Monday, January 28, 2019

Book Review: Through Gates of Splendor

Through Gates of Splendor. Elisabeth Elliot. 1956/1996. Tyndale. 219 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Santa Juana is under way. White stars breaking through a high mist. Half moon. The deep burn of phosphorus running in the wake. Long, easy rolling and the push of a steady wind.

This biography has become a classic, and not without good reason! For within its pages, Elisabeth Elliot tells the story of five missionaries who became martyrs for Jesus Christ. Jim Elliot, the author's husband, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming. Five men, five very different men. Readers learn how each came to Christ. See how each one was called to serve, to give. Not only called to serve in general. But each called to serve specifically. God is in the details. God led each man to want to go to Ecuador to reach the native tribes who had not yet heard the gospel. Though each was initially called to serve different tribes, different regions within the country, each came to see that God was leading them to serve together, to reach out to one tribe, perhaps the tribe with the worst reputation, the people in the most need of hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. In the first edition of the book, these people are called Auca. A word that means "savage" in one of the neighboring languages. It's not until the second epilogue, that readers learn the tribe's name for themselves, Waorani.  God was writing their story. And he was preparing them day by day, week by week, month by month to accomplish HIS will. Preparing them to serve, to love, to give. Giving them strength and courage and desire. Giving them peace and joy and hope. (Not that they didn't have their down moments, not that they didn't have their discouraging moments. But they were living for Christ. They were ready TO LIVE OR DIE for Christ. No matter the outcome, they knew that they were right where God wanted them to be. And they trusted that whether they lived or died, Christ would get the glory, that HIS will would be done, HIS purposes accomplished.) 

This book focuses on their time in Ecuador--the years leading up to January 1956. I won't lie. I won't say that I found it compelling and powerful from the first page. But. By the end, I was swept into the story. It was powerful and compelling and emotional and beautiful and haunting and terrible and wonderful all at the same time.

I first read this one in 2011. This was my first time to reread it. It was even better the second time around I think. I have read a few of her other books now. I think that helped the story resonate even more. 

The fixedness of the human mind is the 'wall of Jericho' to Gospel preaching. God must shake, or there will be no shaking. ~ Ed McCully (8)

"My sister-in-law is dying!" This in Quichua, may mean anything from a headache to a snakebite. If one is in excellent health, he is "living." Otherwise, he is "dying." (33)

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." ~ Jim Elliot. (167)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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