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A Special Day In Church History

To God's Beloved:


January 8, 1956 is a special day in church history for me.

One of my heroes went home, and it is well worth remembering and celebrating!  It is worth being encouraged and challenged by!

He had been raised as a fairly ordinary boy in Portland, Oregon but when he gave His life to Jesus, he was all in.

He felt the call of God to Ecuador, and went with his wife, Elisabeth (another of my heroes) to seek to show them the greatness of God and His Gospel to an unreached people.  His story is one that shows courage and faith, and the words of his that echo in my mind and heart, “He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose”. 

 He lived as though God was real because he knew it to be true at the very core of his being.

That day on the beach (January 8, 1956) seeking to share the Gospel with the Auca warriors is well known in missions history, they had some friendly interaction before, but on that day the interaction was not friendly as warriors ran towards them with spears raised.  There is a risk, when living for Jesus, of all the world has to offer, but this risk never puts in danger the eternal that is kept in heaven for the faithful.

Each of the missionaries had promised not to kill an Auca Indian who did not know Jesus to save their own lives.  All who went to this tribe that were on the beach that day died, but they did not give their lives for nothing!

The next morning a pilot flew a plane over the area where Jim, Ed, Roger, Peter and Nate had been and they saw a badly damaged plane and chaos.  A search team was sent, and the missionary bodies were found, and although they looked dead, each of these men were now truly alive!

Jim had given up what he could not keep, to gain what he could not lose, he had lived in faith, loved with self-sacrifice, and given his life for Jesus!  He believed the Gospel, and it changed his life.

This is not the end of the story, in fact, perhaps greater than the sacrifice of Jim and his friends was the sacrifice of some of the widows, who eventually had the privilege of leading many in this tribe to Jesus, through their love and ministry.  Elizabeth and her daughter Valerie moved into the village less than two years later, and the rest is history (one of my treasured possessions is a book she signed).

What is it that would cause someone to risk their lives, to give up their right of self defence, to minister to people who killed their husband and destroyed the dreams of their future?

What is it that can motivate that kind of commitment and devotion…from ordinary people…who did extraordinary things for Jesus?  What can motivate us to live this kind of life?

The answer is that they believed three things.

  • God Exists
  • He rewards those who earnestly seek Him
  • He has called us to live for Him and in light of eternity


If you will believe those three things, you can live a life of excellence for His glory.  You can make a difference for Him!

It has been a long week for me of working from home and avoiding people.  I have been in isolation, and am close to the end of that (Tuesday).  Every ache, or waking pain has reminded me that we are in a pandemic right now, and that many are suffering...and it has given me more time to reflect on the meaning of my life, and our lives, and what it really means to walk by faith and not by sight.

 I have a long ways to go!

It seems that at times like this I need a wake up call, and it is a reminder for me that there are much bigger things going on!  HE IS NO FOOL WHO GIVES UP WHAT HE CANNOT KEEP TO GAIN WHAT HE CANNOT LOSE. 

Do you believe that?

As we journey into 2022 I was reminded of January 8 1956, and of my desire to follow the footsteps of ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives.  From a worldly standpoint, Jim missed out on all of his daughter’s life, and his dreams.  From a worldly perspective, Elizabeth missed out on justice, and even worse saved many from the revenge of God. 

But from Jesus perspective, they lived lives that mattered, and I hope, this brief glimpse down the hallway of a modern hall of faith will help us to commit to live our lives for Jesus today.  To live by faith and make choices that display you know Him and believe what He has said. To choose a Luke 9:23 life, that knows the reality of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

May we at Cloverdale Baptist Church choose to share the Gospel with people who need it, choose to give up rights of a future, and self defence for Jesus, choose forgiveness when vengeance seems so obvious.  It is impossible not to choose the worlds way if you do not walk by faith, but if you know He exists, that He rewards those who seek Him, that He has a mission for us as His people, it is impossible not to live for Him.

This is the pathway of the faithful, and it is well worn in history, and I want to be an ordinary follower of Jesus like Jim, like Elizabeth, and to live…as though God exists, and rewards those who seek Him, and has called me to a mission. 

 He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.


Let us walk by faith, and not by site, and may those who come after us look down this hallway of history and see it marked by self sacrifice, by love, by forgiveness, and by taking risks for the glory of the Gospel. 

Read Christian biography, and remember we are not the first on this journey for His glory, and He is, was and will be FAITHFUL!

Your servant because I am His,  

Pastor Rob


For more, read, Through Gates Of Splendour, by Elizabeth Elliott.