“ ‘He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.’ I have been directed to these and similar passages again and again. I should like to put these truths to the utmost test… Seemingly God delights in many instances to place men in situations which magnify their weaknesses for the simple delight of showing Himself strong to all observers” (Unfolding Destinies by Olive Fleming Liefeld).                                  

Peter Fleming was raised in a Christian home but was not a believer  until age thirteen. In his youth he was respected for his spiritual maturity and knowledge of God’s Word. As a gifted athlete he had opportunity to pursue a career in sports. However, it was God, not sports, that had Pete’s heart.

While studying philosophy at the University of Washington, Peter made a friend named Jim Elliot. Jim’s influence on Pete  was tremendous, and they both followed God’s call to Ecuador. In 1954, Pete married his childhood sweetheart, Olive. God put a burden on their hearts to take the Gospel to the Waodani (Auca) Indians, a tribe well known for their brutality.

Pete, Jim, and three other men spent three months dropping gifts from the air and planning their first attempt to make contact with the Auca. They finally landed their plane in Auca territory on January 2, 1956. For several days, the missionaries enjoyed visits from three Auca Indians. Hopes were rising that the Indians would realize they wanted to be friends.

However, on January 8, 1956, a group of spearmen attacked the missionaries at the beach, killing all five men. I wonder if, as Peter Fleming faced death at the hands of the people he was trying to reach, he thought of the statement he had made years earlier. I wonder if he knew that in his death, the ultimate magnification of man’s weakness, God would be shown strong to millions of observers. Through the weakness of five men, God raised up a mighty army of laborers to enter His harvest fields, including some who eventually saw the Auca people evangelized.

Regardless of what weaknesses must be revealed, may we be willing for God to use our lives to show Himself strong!