Elizabeth Elliot was a missionary who inspired generations by returning to Ecuador with her toddler daughter to preach the gospel to the Indian tribe that killed her husband when her daughter was an infant. After Mr. Elliot and his colleagues landed by plane on Jan. 2, 1956, he kept rehearsing a message of goodwill — “Biti miti punimupa,” meaning “I like you, I want to be your friend” — from a Waorani phrasebook. Three tribe members made a friendly visit, but then there was apparently a miscommunication or a perceived threat. After the missionaries failed to make radio contact with a base station, searchers found their bodies pierced by wooden spears. Elizabeth Elliot renewed contact with the tribe over the next two years. In 1958, accompanied by her 3-year-old daughter and the sister of one of the murdered missionaries, she moved in with the Waoranis, known to their neighbors as Aucas, or savages. She ministered to them and remained in their settlement, in the foothills of the Andes.

Jesus, in the last moments of his life, stripped and tortured, asked the Father to forgive those who didn’t know what they were doing. Jesus endured death on the cross for us to have the opportunity to be reconciled to God the Father. Knowing that, how can we as believers not forgive? We might not even know we are holding onto unforgiveness, but we can ask the Lord to reveal it to us. Think how differently the lives of Elizabeth and the tribe would have played out if she hadn’t forgiven those who killed her husband.

The only thing that costs more than forgiving someone is not forgiving them. What happens when we don’t forgive ranges from loss of joy to depression, and even physical ailments. Forgiveness is not just about saying the words, it’s a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings whether the person deserves it or not. It’s about making a conscious choice to let go of the negative feelings and begin to feel empathy and compassion for the person who wronged you. To live like Jesus, we have to say “Father forgive . . .”  just as He did. Hebrews says it this way, “…fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2   That’s what Jesus did for us, so we can extend grace to others.

Deb Hill
Executive Assistant

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