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John Piper on 60th Anniversary of Jim Elliot's Death: 'No One Can Frustrate the Designs of God'

  • Veronica Neffinger
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2016 Jan 08
  • Comments

Today, January 8, marks the sixtieth anniversary of the deaths of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Flemming, and Roger Youderian who were killed by tribal peoples they were trying to reach with the Gospel.


On his Desiring God website, John Piper recalls the missionaries’ story and how God ultimately showed his sovereignty, even through their deaths.


The story of these missionaries to the unreached Huaorani people of Ecuador has been immortalized by Elisabeth Elliot, wife of Jim Elliot, in the book Shadow of the Almighty


In the book, Elisabeth shares a quote by which her husband lived and died. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose,” said Jim Elliot.


Piper reminds Christians not to forget that last part of the quote, especially. When news of the martyred missionaries came out, the world viewed it as a terrible tragedy, but Elisabeth Elliot and other Christians realized that even death is not outside God’s sovereign plan.


“If we have the faith and single-mindedness and courage of those five missionaries, we might find ourselves saying with the apostle Paul:


‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:36–39),” says Piper.


The story of these missionaries is especially amazing because many of those to whom they were trying to evangelize ended up coming to Christ later, through the continued missionary work of Elisabeth Elliot and others. 


“[N]o one, absolutely no one, can frustrate the designs of God to fulfill his missionary plans for the nations,” Piper sums up.


Though we may be tempted to view these missionaries’ deaths as most of the world did and does, Piper challenges us to trust God’s deeper plan, for Jim Elliot, his fellow missionary martyrs, and for ourselves. 



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Publication date: January 8, 2016