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The Torchlighters: January 8, 1956

The Torchlighters is an animated series that tells the stories of heroes of the Christian faith. The very first Torchlighters DVD told the story of Jim Elliot and four other men who died on this date 64 years ago while trying to take the gospel to a remote South American tribe. (See the trailer above.)

Read below about the DVD, and learn more about the DVDs here.

The year was 1956. From the steamy jungles of Ecuador, news spread around the world that five young American men were ruthlessly killed by members of the Auca tribe (now known as the Waorani)—a people the five young men had gone to serve and tell about Jesus. That seemingly senseless tragedy that occurred a half century ago became an inspirational marvel as family members of those killed, compelled by the grace of Christ, went back to the tribe and shared the message of forgiveness and salvation with the very men who had speared their family members! This is the story of one of those Torchlighters.

The DVD follows Jim Elliot’s adventures from his college years to his work in the jungles of Ecuador, showing young people faith in action as he answers God’s call to do the seemingly impossible. Enter “Elliot” in the Search box of this site to find more stories about him.



Jim Elliot’s Motto

The following activity is from The Torchlighters Ultimate Activity Book. The book is available here, and the companion DVDs here.

The previous post told about Jim Elliot, who gave his life while serving the Lord in South America. Jim’s four companions, Pete Fleming, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, and Roger Youderian, were also martyred. The group understood the dangers of missionary work, and they were willing to lay down their lives in service to God.

Jim had a motto that described his beliefs about risking his life for the gospel. To find the motto, print or copy the grid below, and follow the instructions. Can you explain what the motto means?

1. Jim Elliot served the Lord in Ecuador, South America. Cross out, in columns B, C, and E, the names of South American countries. (Refer to a map of South America if you need help.)

2. Jim Elliot demonstrated unselfishness. Cross out, in columns A, C, and D, words more than five letters long related to unselfishness.

3. Cross out the two-letter words only in columns B and D.

4. Cross out, in all columns, the first or last names of the five men who gave their lives.

5. To read Jim Elliot’s quote, start at the top of the grid, and going in order from left to right, read (or write) the words that have not been crossed out.

The Jim Elliot Story

Elise Wixtrom has grown up learning about persecuted Christians and reading VOM resources. Currently she writes reviews of VOM resources for readers of Enter “Elise” in the search box to read about Elise and to find more of her reviews.

Jim Elliot
Jim Elliot, a missionary to Mexico and Ecuador, attended Wheaton College in his university years. A talented wrestler, Elliot always knew he was called to bring the gospel to the unreached, no matter what.

As the young man left the university, he went straight to the mission field, hitchhiking his way around Mexico after his car stalled on train tracks. Accompanied by a loyal group of friends, he brought the gospel to any schoolchildren who might want to listen. Speaking in broken Spanish, Elliot planted churches throughout the countryside. After a while, he and his team moved on to Ecuador, where they built villages and airstrips, helping the native population with their work while spreading the good news of Christ.

While in Ecuador, Elliot’s team welcomed into their complex a young woman who was running from tribal warfare and had lost her family. The missionaries were convinced that they could reach her people, the Aucas (now known as the Waodani, Waorani, or Huaorani), with the gospel. So they took a small airplane and landed in her village. The people there were friendly, but secretly did not approve of the foreigners who brought them gifts.

After a few trips to the village, the missionaries were seeing progress in building friendships among the Aucas. But that was not to last long. Eventually, the Aucas killed the five Americans as they exited their airplane for the last time.

Jim Elliot and his friends gave their lives in order to spread the gospel of Christ, just like countless other faithful believers throughout the years. Elliot knew when he ventured to Ecuador that there was a great possibility of him dying in the service of God. He died knowing that he had tried his best to live well and to love the Lord.

After Jim Elliot’s martyrdom, his wife, Elizabeth, made it her mission to tell his story. It was the witness of the Elliot couple that inspired The Voice of the Martyrs to continue their legacy with the Torchlighters animated episode The Jim Elliot Story. But it is our job to remember the Elliots and what they sacrificed for the cause of the gospel, and how they stood in the face of danger with unconditional love, bearing the news of God’s grace.

Read more about Jim Elliot and watch a trailer for The Jim Elliot Story here.

Seven Facts About Missionary Jim Elliot

1.    In school, Jim was on the wrestling team.

2.    After Jim received poor grades at school one semester, he told his parents that he thought studying God’s Word was more important than his school subjects.

3.    In college, Jim encouraged his friends to share what they had learned from the Bible that day. He greeted them by saying, “What’s your verse for today?”

4.    Sixty-one years ago in 1956, Jim and four missionaries were killed in Ecuador by members of the Auca tribe (now known as the Waorani tribe). The five had gone to the area to tell the tribe about Jesus.

5.    Jim’s wife, Elizabeth, later went back to the tribe and shared a message of forgiveness and salvation. Many people in the tribe decided to follow Christ.

6.    Jim and Elizabeth’s daughter, Valerie, played with Waorani children while her mother ministered among the tribe.

7.    Ecuador issued a postage stamp honoring Jim.

Read another story about the missionaries to the Waorani tribe here .

Click here to find a clip from the Torchlighters DVD, “The Jim Elliot Story.”

Thinking About Forever


“People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our live as missionaries. They forget that they, too, are expending their lives…and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.” — Nate Saint, missionary

Read a story about Nate Saint here.

To Think About and Discuss
Something with “eternal significance” is important forever. Someone who has thoughts of eternity thinks of their future in heaven with God forever, not just their life on earth.

  • What do missionaries do?
  • What does “expending their lives” mean?
  • What do you think Nate Saint meant when he said, “when the bubble has burst?”
  • What are some activities that have eternal significance?

Photo credit: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos | GFDL 1.2