My 10th grade bible class at school just finished watching the film “The End Of The Spear.” Unlike so many other classes I have taught over the years, showing video to this group of guys (its an all boy’s class) is a good thing because they really watch it (of course I do give a test after the video which I am sure helps the concentration aspect of watching a movie). They were glued to the movie and had great discussion afterwards. It makes giving up 3 days of class to show the movie that much more worthwhile.
About half way into the movie, right after the Waodani warriors kill the 5 missionary men on the Curaray River bank, one of my students made the comment that I obviously was not trying to convince them into becoming missionaries! Most of the 34 students (2 classes) had not seen the movie and were completely taken by surprise when the 5 men died. It certainly was not what they were expecting. “Why would anyone risk their very lives to go into an area that dangerous?” they asked. Good question. Why would THEY go?
As we watched the second half of the movie they were completely blown away at the fact that the wives of the men went into the Ecuadorian jungle to live with the Waodani. By the end of the movie they were amazed at the level of dedication the missionaries showed in their effort to teach this indigenous tribe about God and His Son Jesus. They were very impressed with the movie, especially knowing that it was based on a true story.
At the end of the film, right after the credits, there is a small clip with an interview with Steve Saint (son of Nate Saint, one of the missionaries that was killed) and Mincayani, the tribal leader who actually killed Nate Saint. Mincayani was converted and he and Steve came to the States when the movie was released back in 2006. In the clip it showed Mincayani in America and experiencing life here for the very first time.
Can you even imagine what it was like for Mincayani? Living in the jungle your whole life hunting monkeys to eat? Living in straw huts with no electricity or running water? No flush toilets or furniture? Walking everywhere you go on small paths and living day to day with your main concerns being feeding your family and keeping them safe? Then, climbing into an airplane (try to experience that one through his eyes!) and landing at one of our major airports. Hundreds and hundreds of people hustling through the buildings. People movers and escalators shuttling people from point A to point B. Riding in a car for the first time… on paved highways traveling 70 miles an hour. Seeing a Super Wal-Mart for the first time? Can you say “Overwhelming?”
The clip is quite humorous as you listen to Micayani’s take on “moving pathways” and “food houses.” But to be honest, it was very difficult to get my 10th grades to see all of this through Micayani’s eyes. Why? They have never been out of the country. They have never seen anything that contrasts the way they live everyday of their lives in America. They cannot imagine what it would be like NOT having all of the things that are around us everyday. To them, what surrounds them is normal. But you know what? It isn’t.
Time to take a quiz. This time it is only 3 simple questions. Your answer will either be “Yes” or “No.” No trick questions, just simple yes or no questions. Here we go:
Do you have a phone?
Do you have the opportunity to eat 2 meals per day?
Do you live in a house that does not have a dirt floor?
Did you answer, “Yes” to all 3 questions? If so, according to WHO (World Health Organization) YOU are among the top 12% of the richest people that live on the planet. 88% of the world cannot answer “Yes” to all 3 of those questions. Surprised? Shocked? Welcome to America. The world we live in is not the norm. It is FAR from it. Try seeing life through the eyes of the rest of the world.
Several years ago a good friend that I met in Honduras came to America. He had to go to Vanderbilt for medical treatment that was not available in any of the hospitals in Tegucigalpa. He too traveled on a plane for the first time. He left an area with no electricity, no running water, and dirt roads. His capital airport has one runway. Maybe 12 airplanes a day land there on a busy day. Gerardo landed in Miami, one of the largest airports in the world and his eyes were opened. He entered our world the same way Mincayani did in the movie. And Gerardo’s life was changed forever.
The same thing is true for those of us that travel to Honduras, Mexico, or Ecuador. Our lives are changed forever because we see the world through different eyes. So, let’s go back to the question one of my students asked mid-way though the movie. Why would THEY go (to Ecuador to work with the Waodani tribe? Maybe the deeper question would have been, “Why don’t WE go there?” Or maybe, “Why don’t YOU go there?”
This summer about 100 people from Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Texas will climb aboard airplanes to fly to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. These volunteers will form our Torch team and for 11 days we will work among the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere. We will build houses; playgrounds; distribute food; visit orphanages; do service projects; visit hospitals; conduct a VBS; teach adult bible classes; and provide a free remote medical clinic. We will have morning and evening devotionals and will attend a local congregation for worship services. And we will, without a doubt, realize what it is like to be part of the 12% of the richest people on the planet.
Why did that mission team go to Ecuador? Probably for the same reason we go to Honduras. Little Stevie asked his dad, Nate Saint, right before he flew to the contact site, if he would fight and defend himself if he was attacked. Nate Saint replied he would not. Why? Because he was ready to meet God and they were not. And He said unto them, Go into all of the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who had believed and been baptized will be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. Mark 16: 15-16. That is why we go. We are ready and they are not. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39. As Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me!” Thank you Lord for sending us.