December 16, 2002
Kansas City – One of the men who discovered the bodies of missionaries slain by Auca Indians in 1956 was a chapel speaker recently during World Mission Days at Midwestern Seminary.
Frank Drown, a Gospel Missionary Union missionary to Ecuador for 37 years, was ministering to Indians about 75 miles from where the bodies of five missionaries, including Jim Elliot, were found.
Drown said Elliot was in the north jungle, and he was in the south jungle, and Nate Saint was the link between them as a pilot. They started ministering to the Aucas by dropping gifts to them by plane. The Aucas responded and built a tower platform to watch for the plane. After several months of dropping gifts, they decided to make contact with the Aucas.
"I loaned them my radio, but I was unable to go because I had to preach on Sunday," he said.
On the radio, he heard they had a good visit the first day, but they weren’t heard from for a few days. The wives asked him to go and check on them.
"It took three days to get there. We found the radio with slashed wires. We found two missionaries tangled in the brush, dead, and another one downstream.
"Here’s my good buddies, giving their lives to serve God, and now here they are dead.
"Why did this happen? I didn’t know. Only God knows what He’s doing. It was so sad when I arrived back. I did not fulfill the mission. I did not bring the husbands back to the wives who were waiting for them."
Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel, Nate Saint’s sister, later lived among the Auca Indians. Many of those Indians are Christians today.
Before the slayings, Drown and one of the missionaries who later died had worked to reach a neighboring tribe, whose chief asked them to visit and bring medicine. They did, and the visit went so well that they were invited to come back and tell more about the way to heaven.
While Drown was gone to look for the missing missionaries, the people from the tribe where Drown ministered started a war by killing one of the women of the chief’s tribe.
"Here I had just opened the door for this tribe and the people right from where I live go there and just kill people. What will I do?"
Wycliffe let them use a pilot and plane to go back. They flew over to see if the Indians line up by the airstrip as they had in the past. They did. So the plane came back in for a landing, but the Indians were gone.
"This was after the missionaries had been killed. I had buried them, and now I am in a similar situation. What’s going to happen to me? I started down the airstrip, and the old chief came out of his house with two warriors on each side, and they all had .44 Winchesters. They started to yell, ‘Get out of here. We don’t want you.’"
Drown said his feet wanted to turn around, but God said to stay.
"The chief kept coming, and I kept going. I laid my gun down."
Drown asked, "What are you yelling at me like this for? I’m your friend, I’ve come to tell you about the Gospel." The chief said, ‘You said you were going to get soldiers and get us.’ I said, "No, that’s not true."
The chief "took one jump and put his arm around me. He asked, ‘Why did you shoot at us from that plane?’"
The plane had backfired.
"We need the guidance of God every day because we never know what’s going to happen to us."
Many of that tribe came to Christ and there are many churches among them.
"It was difficult, but the men who gave their lives prepared my heart for possibly giving my life. Every one of us should be prepared to do what God wants us to do."
Drown now lives in Kansas City.