Colin D. Jones
Day One Publications
64 pages, £6.00
It’s great to see new generations challenged to live wholeheartedly and sacrificially for Christ. The earlier this occurs, the better; before the course of life becomes settled and unhelpful habits take root.
Jim Elliott, Ron Harris, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint and Roger Youderian all paid the ultimate sacrifice for their wholehearted devotion. They were martyred taking the good news of Jesus to the unreached Huaorani (or ‘Auca’) tribe, in the rainforests of South America. Their example has proved enduringly challenging.
Bringing the story alive with contemporary graphics and easy-to-follow, fast-paced text, Ecuador adventure is a helpful retelling of their story. It took about 15 minutes to read to our eight-year-old son and he both followed and enjoyed it. I suspect he might have struggled to read it unaided, but anyone in the Junior/KS2 age range is a safe match.
The Huaorani people are appropriately introduced, although a map would have been a useful addition.
There is plenty of interesting biographical background, as the reader meets each of the young men. Some of their natural abilities or interests clearly equipped them for the task, but, on reflection, it’s frustrating that the book focusses more on their sporting and intellectual abilities than their spiritual motivations as missionaries. If we want our children to be inspired, it needs to be for the right reasons!
The postscript gives a tantalisingly brief overview of what happened next. It would have been insightful and beneficial to hear more about the first Huaorani girl to be converted, and also more about the named killer of the missionaries.
The book refers to ‘the message of God’s love’, but children need to hear what that is and how it can change lives. We want Jesus to be their ultimate hero and for them to see beyond merely human ‘heroes of faith’, no matter how inspiring they may be. Christ’s sacrifice provides the ultimate motivation for any sacrifice we might make.