- Paperback: 274 pages
- Publisher: Tyndale Momentum; Revised, Updated edition (June 3, 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0842371524
- ISBN-13: 978-0842371520
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 243 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Through Gates of Splendor Revised, Updated Edition
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Through Gates of Splendor is the true story of five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. The story is told through the eyes of Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the young men who was killed.
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By all means, read her books. But remember that they are not the Bible. Read them prayerfully and critically.
Five men, sold out for God, entered the dangerous territory of the Auca tribe in Ecuador in the 1950's to try and reach them with the Gospel. They never returned. Their bodies were found a few days later on a beach. Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of Jim, collated their journals and filled in the gaps with first-hand knowledge.
What struck me most forcefully was the wholehearted commitment of every one of these men to give up everything worldly for the sake of Christ. This, despite pressure and opposition from many, perhaps unexpected, directions; they were well educated, with bright futures and still young!
Pete was expected to become a college professor or Bible teacher. But to throw away his life among ignorant savages. It was thought absurd.
Jim wrote to his parents: 'Seems impossible that I am so near my senior year, and truthfully, it hasn't the glow about it that I rather expected. There is no such thing as attainment in this life; as soon as one arrives at a long coveted position he only jacks up his desire another notch or so and looks for higher achievement--a process which is ultimately suspended by the intervention of death. Life is truly likened to a rising vapor, coiling, evanescent, shifting. May the Lord teach us what it means to live in terms of the end, like Paul who said, 'Neither count I my life dear unto myself, that I might finish my course with joy....
Nate wrote, It was the first time that I ever really heard that verse: 'Follow me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.' The old life of chasing things that are of a temporal sort seemed absolutely insane....As we have a high old time this Christmas, may we who know Christ hear the cry of the damned as they hurtle headlong into the Christless night without ever a chance. May we be moved with compassion as our Lord was. May we shed tears of repentance for those we have failed to bring out of darkness. May God give us a new vision of His will concerning the lost and our responsibility.
The stark contrast between the statements of these men and our, often, half-hearted commitments to the cause of Christ today are convicting and challenging. Are we called to any less, in terms of our heart devotion?
One of the men, Roger, had already experienced the hardships of a missionary life, yet still went willingly with the others believing it was of God:
A missionary plods through the first year or two, thinking that things will be different when he speaks the language. He is baffled to find, frequently, that they are not. He is stripped of all that may be called 'romance.' Life has fallen more or less into a pattern. Day follows day in unbroken succession; there are no crises, no mass conversions, sometimes not even one or two to whom he can point and say, 'There is a transformed life. If I had not come, he would never have known Christ.'...The forces of evil, unchallenged for so long, are now set in array against the missionary.
Every prospective missionary should read these paragraphs. This is the reality. Mass conversions and daily encouragements would in our day be referred to as 'fake news!' The missionary life is hard....
One of the things that makes this book is the reaction of the wives to the news that their husbands have all been killed. They had committed them to God and continue to trust that God is faithful and knows what He is doing despite their grief.
From the author, Cause and effect are in God's hands. Is it not the part of faith simply to let them rest there? God is God. I dethrone Him in my heart if I demand that He acts in ways that satisfy my idea of justice. There is unbelief, there is even rebellion, in the attitude that says, 'God has no right to do this to five men unless....
The women recognised that God allowed the terrible tragedy to unfold. They stood by the decision of their men when questions were asked as to why they had gone into Auca territory in the first place; the men had sincerely believed it was the will of God.
Events that took place afterwards reveal aspects of God's bigger plan, but that's contained in other books, so I won't spoil it for you! Eternity alone will tell how many souls were saved as a result of the sacrifice of these men either through hearing about the story or through people responding to the missionary call.
There are many spiritual lessons in this book that can be applied directly. I recommend that all Christians read this. Then, instead of just saying, "Wow, that's inspirational", or "What a sad story", take up the torch and follow wherever Jesus is leading you.
This book is clean: Free of bad language and sexual content. There is violence due to the subject matter but it isn't sensationalised.
As their plans were coming together, one of the men wrote, "We believe that in a short time we shall have the privilege of meeting these fellows with the story of the Grace of God." Even knowing that they could lose their lives, they already considered their lives to be God's and knew they were in His hands, even if the worst should happen. Their wives were of the same mind, even as they considered the possibility of becoming widows. Elisabeth wrote,
"God gave us peace of heart, and confidence that whatever might happen, His Word would hold. God's leading was unmistakable up to this point. Each of us knew when we married our husbands that there would never be any question about who came first -- God and His work held first place in each life....It was a time for soul-searching, a time for counting the possible cost...The point of decision had been reached. God's command 'Go ye, and preach the gospel to every creature' was the categorical imperative. The question of personal safety was wholly irrelevant."
The Bible promises that men would be redeemed from every tribe, every kindred, every tongue, and every nation, and in the mind of the Elliots and their fellow missionaries, that included the Aucas of Ecuador. Even up to the point of their tragic deaths, these men and their wives remained optimistic that their efforts would result in the penetration of the Gospel into the Auca tribe. "To the world at large this was a sad waste of five young lives," wrote Elisabeth. "But God has His plan and purpose in all things...Letters from many countries have told of God's dealing with hundreds of men and women, through the example of five who believed literally that 'the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: be he that doeth the will of God abideth forever."
After the loss of the five men, efforts to befriend and reach the Auca's continued. No thought of hate or revenge even entered the five widows; in fact, after the tragedy all but one remained (with their children) in the Ecuadorian jungle and continued in missionary work. And God blessed as after a couple of years, friendly relationships were established with the Aucas and salvation came to this lost people group. This account of men and women who were willing to give everything for the cause of Christ is one every Christian should be acquainted with. I also highly recommend Elisabeth Elliot's biography of her husband Jim, Shadow of the AlmightyShadow Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (Lives of Faith)
The title of this books comes from the lines of a hymn that the men loved;
"We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender,
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor
Victors, we rest with Thee through endless days."
The photo is of a necklace made by an Auca 25 years ago, and given to my wife by Steve Saint. Notice the intricate weaving of roots which had been chewed until pliable.