Aug 26, 2013

How Big And Beautiful Is Your Forgiveness?

I went to a Missions retreat recently.
It concerned short term missions, how we do them as Americans.
Where can we improve and where do we actually do more harm than good.
Important questions to consider.
It gave me insight into how we are perceived by the receivers of these mission trips.

There is no perfect answer when it comes to this... as I have seen youth who had no business being on mission trips, and also witnessed life changing moments where a teen has felt called to ministry and I now watch a dozen young people follow this path.
They witnessed truth, grace and a love for the Lord from the adults who led them on missions trips and mentored them through adolescence.

But this was not my take away from this day.

The man speaking at this conference was Steve Saint.
If that name doesn't mean anything to you, let me give you a little background. 

Steve Saint was the son of Nate Saint, a missionary pilot. Steve was born in Quito, Ecuador in 1951. His father was killed in 1956, along with 4 other missionaries in the jungle of Ecuador by the Huaorani Indians, whom they were trying to make peaceful contact with.
I visited Quito, Ecuador a few years ago with a Compassion International group, but was far from this wild, untamed part of Ecuador.

When this tragedy occurred in 1956 one would think this project had ended.
Not so.
Some of the wives and children moved to Quito, where the children were educated. Soon Steve's aunt, Rachel Saint and Elisabeth Elliot, wife of one of the murdered missionaries, went back into the jungle and lived among these people.
With time, they built relationship with them.
 When Steve was 10 he went to visit and began spending his summers with them.

In 1965 Saint was baptized in the jungle river of Curaray, by two of the men who had killed his father.
These two men had become Christians.

You still with me?
 It's amazing, incredible and doesn't make sense.
I will share one more thing.
Steve became very close with one of the men who murdered his dad.
He became family to Steve's family.
He became grandfather to Steve's children.


My family first saw Mincaye and Steve Saint at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert and heard the story of forgiveness and grace. I remember feeling overwhelmed.
I never forgot it.
How do you forgive like that?!

When I heard Steve talk recently,
he told of a time he and Mincaye were in India, who along with a team were
doing rudimentary dentistry on an Indian woman.
Mincaye was the most proficient at pulling diseased teeth and he was chosen for this procedure.
After he pulled the tooth, he took the woman's face in his hands and started praying over her.

Steve had been holding her face during the procedure and Mincaye's hands overlapped Steve's as they prayed for this women.
In that moment Steve realized, "These are the same hands that put spears into my father."
The emotion was evident even as he retold this scene.
All these years later, Steve is still amazed by the redemption Christ offers... to us all.


 The story is amazing and if you are not familiar with it, I encourage you to read the book, The End Of The Spear and the documentary, Beyond The Gates Of Splendor.

One of my favorite quotes was spoken by one of the martyred missionaries, Jim Elliot.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

Read that over a few times.
Think on it.
What are you giving, keeping, hanging on to that has no value?

These men gave up their lives, and in the aftermath the jungles of Ecuador were changed forever.
They found a faith they could not lose.

Is there something you are holding on to, that you need to let go? Someone you need to forgive? Don't delay.
Live this kind of extravagant grace, love and forgiveness.
Let it be big and beautiful.
The kind God extends to us... everyday.

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