Last Sunday we read in Matthew 26 of the woman who poured out expensive perfume on Jesus’ head. Some thought it was a waste. But Jesus said, “Wherever the Gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will be told as a memorial to her.” Similar sentiments were expressed sixty years ago on January 8, 1956 when Auca Indians (now known as Waorani) killed five young missionary men in the jungles of Ecuador. They had prayed, planned, and prepared for months to establish a “friendly contact”, seeking to obey God and bring the “good news” to those who had never heard of Jesus. But the story only began with those men (one of whom was Jim Elliot, uncle to Steve Hawthorne, now serving God in Potosi, Bolivia). God used women in continuing the outreach - Jim’s wife, Betty, Nate’s sister, Rachel, Dayuma, an Auca who had fled the violence of the tribe earlier. Today, there is peace among the tribes and an estimated 300 believers among an estimated 1800 Waorani in 15 jungle villages. Eight of these tribal groups have regular church meetings and a Bible school serves and trains the young. The Waorani have been served by Wycliffe, Compassion International, Missionary Aviation Fellowship and the VosAndes Hospital.
Why note a 60 year-old story? Such history encourages us to pray long-term for God’s work from the present into the distant future. In praying for the Haitian church, ask God to display His glory so future generations will see and believe. In praying for India where “our friends” have gone in faith, ask God that those who have never heard will believe for the long haul. In praying for Steve and Mary Hawthorne in Bolivia, ask God to build a church among the miners of Potosi and for other displaced peoples. In praying for missionaries serving in Africa in medical and educational care, ask Jesus to help them see generationally. Then by faith, praise God that “this expense” will “smell good” for a long, long time.