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(You must be connected to the internet to see this picture.) "Tragedy's Triumph"
by Tom Goodman
January 24, 2006

On January 8, 1956, five American missionaries were speared and hacked to death by a tribe in the deepest jungles of Ecuador, making headlines around the world.  “End of the Spear,” in theaters now, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the event—and the stranger-than-fiction tale that followed.

This Wednesday, January 25, at 6:30 p.m., come to Hillcrest and learn more about this fascinating story.  We’ll see an abridged version of the documentary called “Beyond the Gates of Splendor.”  This film covers the same subject as the film now in theaters.

While many churches are showing this documentary to promote “End of the Spear,” we have a bonus at Hillcrest.  Our own John and Gloria Mosiman know the characters of this true story.  I’ve asked them to share their experiences with us following the documentary.

The five martyred missionaries were young men eager to bring the Gospel to a savage tribe known as the Waorani who routinely killed any outsiders they encountered.  The men spent months of careful preparation, and their initial contacts were promising.  But then several tribal warriors burst out of the jungle and killed the five with spears and machetes.  Though the missionaries had guns, they shot their weapons into the air rather than defend themselves, an action they had decided upon beforehand.

The news was excruciating for the five widows, but it was not the end of the story.  They all shared their husbands' vision, and three stayed in Ecuador after the deaths, working toward the opportunity to make another contact with the tribe.  The women learned the Waorani language, eventually translating portions of the New Testament for the tribe; "God's carvings," the Indians called them.  The women also taught the natives rudimentary medicine.

The ministry of these women resulted in a remarkable change.  In this 250-person tribe, characterized by some anthropologists as the most violent ever encountered (the homicide rate even within the tribe was more than 60%), the killings stopped.  Today, there are about 2,000 Waorani and a third of them are Christian.

This is a story of the power of forgiveness, the transformation of the gospel, and the passion of believers who continue to reach out to those who deeply hurt them.  You will like what you see and hear this Wednesday!

(Today’s article was adapted from “Triumph from Tragedy,” by David M. Howard, Jr., in the Wall Street Journal, Friday, 20 January 2006.)

Important Notes:

Online Articles about “End of the Spear.”  For more information about this film, see the following sites:
Triumph From Tragedy. Five missionaries' murders were not the end of the story. (WSJ Opinion Journal)
The Rest of the Story.  Half a century after killing five missionaries, the 'Auca' find themselves on the cutting edge of modern missions. (Christianity Today)
Death Worked Backwards.  End of the Spear, a new film about the 1956 missionary martyrs in Ecuador, is similar to the Narnia story in some ways, says Steve Saint, son of one of the murdered men. (Christianity Today)
End of the Spear.  A review of the film. (Christianity Today)
Of forgiveness and friendship.  Families of missionaries killed 50 years ago in Ecuador turn tragedy into tale of love, redemption. (JS Online)
Baptism and Communion this Sunday.  If you need to follow Christ in baptism, contact me right away at

Pastor’s Prayer Meetings.  Diane and I are committing two nights a week for seven weeks to pray with every Hillcrest member and interested attender.  If we have your address, you’ll soon get a letter inviting you to a particular night.  Watch for your letter, then contact my assistant to confirm that the date works for you.  Jami can be reached at or 345-3771.  It will reduce our work load in the office if you reply to the letter once you receive it.

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