IRIAN JAYA: STANLEY ALBERT DALE
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men. Ecclesiastes 3:11
One by one the arrows struck his flesh, and one by one Stanley Albert Dale pulled them out and broke the cane shafts over his knee. The blood flowed from his many wounds and onto the riverbank. The screaming Yali warriors feared that the white man, or duong, was immortal.
Already, the Yali in another village had tried to kill Dale. They were frightened by his message, for his followers had burned their traditional idols and places of spirit worship. They had also shot Dale, but the duong had walked away and completely healed.
Dale had come to the mountains of Irian Jaya (today’s Indonesia) in the 1960s to share Christ’s love. Now facing hundreds of screaming warriors, he pulled arrows out of his body as fast as they pierced his skin. These Yali had been warned that the Spirit inside him was very powerful. Finally, Dale and the other missionary fell. More than sixty broken arrows were piled at Dale’s feet. The warriors then dismembered his body parts for fear that they would rise again.
The Yali thought that would be the end of the gospel message in their valley, but it was not. Other Christians came, and many of the same warriors who had fired arrows into Dale’s body became believers. The duong who would not die now celebrates Jesus alongside his own converted murderers.
Although the Yali thought Dale’s earthly body was immortal, it was actually his soul that would not die. The missionaries who followed in Dale’s wake helped the Yali understand eternity. They shared God with the Yali. Think for a moment about what events, people, and things took the bulk of your time this past week. Certainly, the practicalities of life call us to deal with things that are hardly eternal issues: dirty diapers, ringing phones, dry cleaning, and soccer practice. However, Dale’s story reminds us to prioritize things that matter for eternity. What part of your daily life does have eternal significance? If you don’t make time for it, who will?
This is one of the readings from the book, Extreme Devotion, available from VOM’s online bookstore. You can also receive devotional thoughts daily via email. Sign up here. Story source: "Lords of the Earth" by Don Richardson.
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