Simplicity

by Boyce Mouton

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3).

The Huaoranis, also knows as Aucas, were perhaps the most violent people on earth. These stone-age savages lived in the jungles of Eastern Ecuador, and were split into three mutually hostile groups: the Geketaidi, the BaVidi, and the Wepeidi. Some died of snake bites and disease, etc., but 60 percent of the deaths within the tribe came when they killed one another. They had no form of government, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. By 1956 their numbers had dwindled to 500-600 and they were on the verge of extinction.

It was at this point, as you know, that five American missionaries died taking the gospel to them. The martyrs were Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, and Pete Fleming. They died on Jan. 8, 1956.

Then Elizabeth Elliot (the widow of Jim) and Rachel Saint (sister of Nate) went into the jungle to live with and teach the Huaoranis. These were the first outsiders to survive in Huaorani territory. Perhaps because they were women, the warriors did not fear them. After a couple of years, Elizabeth returned to the States, but Rachel spent the rest of her life in the jungle. She lived in a simple hut, and is buried in a simple grave a few steps away from her front door.

The Huaoranis call the Bible "God's Carvings." There is a simple explanation for this. Each family member has a unique way of marking the trail so that their loved ones can follow. If you want to be with your husband, you follow his "carvings." Similarly, if you want to be with God, you follow His carvings, too. How simple!

Their Bible is also simple. Rachel, the principal translator, was not a scholar of Greek and Hebrew. She simply translated "God" as "The Man Maker," and "sin" as "that which offends the Man Maker." Since they had never traveled more than 50 miles away from home, the Huaoranis had neither concept nor word for "world." Neither did they have a numerical system beyond the use of their fingers and toes. Their translation of God's Word is very simple. Certainly, the scholars and textual critics can find plenty of things that are wrong with it.

Yet, remarkably, the power of the gospel is still present in "God's Carvings." In fact, the love and harmony the Huaoranis experience could well become a worthy example for the rest of us. Some years ago Steve Saint was giving his testimony in Eastern Europe. Afterward, a reporter came forward with some constructive criticism. He said that the translator had given the mistaken idea that Steve had been baptized by these savages, when he knew it was the other way around. "No," Steve replied, "I was, in fact, baptized by two of the men who killed my father. They are elders in the church and my spiritual leaders." It took several minutes for the impact of this to sink in to the reporter's sophisticated mind. Then he said: "Is this true? If it is, then this is the message that Europe has needed for centuries."

Even more incredible is that Mincaye, another of the killers, has become like a father and grandfather in Steve Saint's family. Their love for one another is both obvious and transparent. In fact, when Jesse, Steve's son, graduated from school in the States, the only graduation gift he wanted was for Grandpa Mincaye to be able to attend. (Video interviews with Steve Saint, Mincaye, and Tementa are available through Good News Productions, Int., Joplin Mo.)

Today, by grace of God, an ever-growing number of the Huaoranis are Christians and the tribe has increased in number to about 2,000.

The Bible word for "simplicity is hapltes. It refers to something that is "single" or "simple," as opposed to diplos, or "double." Even though these stone-age people cannot read or write, they have still been transformed from the works of the flesh to the fruit of the Spirit. How simple! It was not necessary for them to become experts in Greek and Hebrew, or to take a class in hermeneutics. When the "good seed" was planted in "good soil," it grew. How simple!

Stories like this are being repeated all over the world, and ought to serve as a reminder to all of us to be wary of Satan and his subtleties, lest we lose that simplicity which is in Christ.

Reprinted with permission from the Spring, 2008, issue of One Body magazine, published by Peace on Earth Ministries, Joplin, Mo.

Boyce Mouton has been a preacher of the gospel for more than 50 years. He had
student ministries in Illinois and Kansas and fulltime ministries in California and Missouri.
He and his wife, Betty, have been serving with the Christian Church in Carl Junction, MO,
since May, 1978. For 22 years he hosted the daily radio program "Family Forum."

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