The Story of Dayuma
By Colin Harbinson
The story that inspired the stage production In January 1956, word sped around the world that five missionaries who had ventured deep into the heart of the Amazon jungle, were out of radio contact with their base. The wives waited expectantly for the promised communication.
The radio remained silent. The five men lay face down in the Curaray River, speared to death by the feared Indians they had hoped to reach with the gospel.
The five men were from different backgrounds. Jim Elliot, a champion wrestler, had a burning desire to reach the world with the gospel. Nate Saint, prevented from flying with the US Airforce in World War II, became a pilot with Missionary Aviation Fellowship. Roger Youderian, crippled by polio at nine years of age, was decorated for his part in the Battle of the Bulge. Ed McCully, a star football player, and Pete Fleming a philosophy major, completed the group.
The Waorani, known to outsiders as Aucas, lived in a stone-age
culture, spearing fish, killing monkeys with their poisonous blow darts
and traveling down river in long dugout canoes. They were feared for their
murderous hostility to foreigners and their own violent lifestyle Every
Auca expected to die one day, speared by his own people.
From what seemed like a total tragedy, God brought about a beautiful
miracle. Dayuma, a young Waorani girl, had run away when her father was
speared to death and her own life had been threatened. At about the same
time, Rachel Saint, the sister of Nate Saint, was called to the mission
field to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Rachel, believing that
God had spoken to her about the Waorani, heard about Dayuma and arranged
to meet her at a hacienda in the Andes. So began a friendship that was
to lead them both down an unbelievable path.
Another of the killers prayed, ...we shall see them again in the hut you are thatching for us in the sky, and seeing them, we will be happy.
One by one the Indians began giving their lives to Christ, and the Waorani
church was born. They met each day in Gods speaking house.
Rachel and Dayuma taught them from the Bible, which they called Gods
carving. Seven years after the Palm Beach killings,
Dyumi, one of the young Waorani men, said that God had shown him to go
to the down river people. The others told him he would be killed. He replied,
It is God who sends me and I will goif I die, my body will
be buried and my soul will go to Gods house. Then God will send
someone else, as he sent someone else to us after we
The creator of the stage show, Dayuma, has flown into the tribe to see the situation firsthand. He met with Dayuma herself and was taken down river by the Waorani in a dugout canoe to the place where the men were killed. Standing beside the common grave of the five missionaries, in the heart of the Amazon jungle, he had the deep conviction that God has not finished with their story yet!