Roger Youderian was one of the 5 missionaries killed by the Auca Indians. His story might help some of my missionary friends. This is how Nate Saint spoke of him before his involvement in the fatal ministry.
Roger Youderian was a soldier of Christ, “a man capable of great effort, trained and disciplined.”
“He knows the importance of unswerving conformity to the will of his Captain. Obedience is not a momentary option; it is a diecast decision made beforehand. He was a disciplined paratrooper. He gave Uncle Sam his best in that battle and now he is determined that the Lord Jesus Christ shall not get less than his best. Everything that made him a good soldier has been consecrated to Christ, his new Captain!”
Roger was going through a deeply personal spiritual struggle like so many of our missionaries go through. I think as you read it that you might be encouraged to realize that you are not alone.
A missionary plods through the first year or two, thinking that things will be different when he speaks the language. He is baffled to find, frequently, that they are not. He is stripped of all that may be called “romance.” Life has fallen more or less into a pattern. Day follows day in unbroken succession; there are no crises, no mass conversions, sometimes not even one or two to whom he can point and say: “There is a transformed life. If I had not come, he would never have known Christ.” There will be those among the Indians who say that they accept Christ, but what of the forsaking of heathen custom and turning from sin to a life of holiness? The missionary watches, and longs, and his heart sickens.
Roger Youderian wrote in his diary: “About ready to call it quits. Seems to me there is no future in the Jivaria for us, and the wisest thing for us to do will be to pull stakes. Will wait until I’ve had a chance to talk it over with Barb and see what she has to say. We might pass Christmas here, finish the hospital in Shell, and head home.
The reason: Failure to measure up as a missionary and get next to the people. As far as my heart and aspirations are concerned, the issue is settled. It’s a bit difficult to discern just what is the cause of my failure and the forces behind it.
Since March, when we left Wambimi, there has been no message from the Lord for us. I just picked up my Bible to share with the same Lord who made me a new creature in England eleven years ago. There was no word of encouragement from Him. He had kept us safe wonderfully, and met our needs, but the issue is far greater than that. There is no ministry for me among the Jivaros or the Spanish, and I’m not going to try to fool myself.
I wouldn’t support a missionary such as I know myself to be, and I’m not going to ask anyone else to. Three years is long enough to learn a lesson and learn it well. Some people are slow to catch on.
It will be tough on Barb and the children, but I’ve always been convinced that honesty and sincerity pays. The milk is spilled—I’m not going to cry over it. The cause of Christ in the Jivaria will not suffer for our having been there, but I must be honest and confess that it has not been helped. I don’t think it will come as much of a surprise to many and will only be an ‘I told you so.’
“There is no spiritual pressure in the issue, and in fact very little of emotion or stress; perhaps none.
“I realize that many along the way will say that we gave up too easy. Perhaps. But I believe that God’s way is to face the issue and let our yea be yea and nay be nay. I’m amen for the cause of Christ but believe that the part I ch——, no I cannot say the part I chose; I believe that the Lord chose the Jivaria for us but I just didn’t measure up to it. You will say that when the Lord calls, He supplies. You can have my boots anytime you want them. It isn’t there. I’m not good at pretending.
“I do not put any blame on personalities or circumstances involved; the failure is mine, and my failure to achieve the personal experience of Christ that could meet the needs here. It didn’t pan out. It is not because of wife and family. Macuma station is ample for a home for them and all we need has been offered.
“The issue is personal, and personal it shall remain. What is the answer? I do not know. And I’m discouraged about finding any satisfactory solution. Have been battling and thinking the issue for many months. There is no answer. It is a combination of situations and talents that has me buffaloed. This is the first time in my life that I have turned my back, but they say there is a first time for everything.
“We are a happy family. He has kept us well and given us sound bodies and, we trust, sound minds. Whatever He has for us is fine but I’m afraid that anything along missionary lines has been scared out of me. If I couldn’t make the grade here in Macuma I’m not foolish enough to expect a change of setting would change me.
This is my personal ‘Waterloo’ as a missionary.
“It seems strange to try and sit back and view it in an impersonal way. Of this much I’m sure: it will draw me to read His word more, be more tolerant of others, and less venturesome in my activities.
“Some will wonder why we don’t seek a place in the Spanish or Quichua work. Frankly, I’m not interested. And, especially after this experience, I’m not begging for any more headaches. Only a fool makes the same mistake twice. One mess seems to me ought to be enough.
“Here I sit at 11 A.M. Wednesday listening to the services. I told them from the window that I would not come. First they sang ‘Wonderful Words of Life,’ and then ‘Oh Say but I’m Glad.’ I’ve found an English hymn book to see if there might be some consolation in a hymn. There is none. It is beyond me. My, what a world of time I’ve wasted. The ruts are worn deep and it won’t be easy to change habits and give up the lost ground or let it be gained by the Lord. But surely it will be worth the battle. My mind was made only to love Him; my body, also, which includes my tongue in all its activities. How slow some of us are to learn.
“I will be led and taught of the Holy Spirit. God desires full development, use, and activity of our faculties. The Holy Spirit can and will guide me in direct proportion to the time and effort I will expend to know and do the will of God. I must read the Bible to know God’s will. At every point I will obey and do.
“A week spent in Shell Mera, prior to this period, when I reiterated many times a day ‘Thy will be done’ helped much to fortify me for this struggle.”
Roger had not yet emerged from his “dark night of the soul” when Nate approached him. The days which followed found him in a desperate struggle to know the will of God. He had no doubt of his own desire—he would go if that were all that mattered. But to go without the smile of God—that would be impossible. “If Thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence.”
Roger recognized something of what this decision might mean for him, and the hours spent on his knees with God witnessed agony of soul. But God, “who causes us to triumph,” brought him out of his slough of despond.
“He was cleansed through the Spirit for the task that lay ahead of him,” said Barbara afterward, “and went with a happy, expectant mind and his heart full of joy.”
I would ask you to ask yourself if this is where you are. Roger was ready to quit. He hung in there and God had something greater for him. He died to himself and lived for the Lord’s will in his life.
His Waterloo turns out to be the breaking before God greatly used him. I want to be used. I know you do. I want a life that counts. I want God to make a difference in me and then to use me to make a difference in others.
E. B. Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2012).