I picked it up because I was feeling dry.
The well-thumbed copy of Bruchko seemed to call my name from my bookshelves. I slid it from the shelf, must creeping to my nose with the satisfying feeling of an old, delicious story. (Wow, I realized–they left out a lot in the newer version of the book.)
I’ve found that a good missionary biography refreshes me, puts life back into my dry bones.
Life is like that, sucking you dry at times. Same thing each day. Good stuff, sure. But tiring.
(What breathes life into your dry days? Find out. Dry days do come.)
In my hands, the real-life tale of Bruchko came to life. It’s the story of a young Minnesotan, Bruce Olson, from a dry difficult home. Convinced God said “go”, Olson up and went”–not sure where or why.
And nothing went right.
Slowly, persistently, day after day he walked the trails Jesus drug him along in Caracas, Venezuela. Hungry, without friends, no money, living wherever he could, he kept going.
Olson was–is still, at 79–one of those tenaciously independent missionaries who didn’t plan ahead.
Interesting how God showed up.
DRY DAYS–and God’s Missions BootCamp
Eventually, Olson started on the real jungle trails of the Yuko Indians. Men shooting arrows at him. Olson was ignored, struggling to find anything to do in a village he doesn’t understand, where he can’t communicate with anyone. He began learning their language.
Remember the “leadership training program” God put David through in the Old Testament? It started off great – a nobody watching sheep, who became the national hero.
But yikes–the boss lobbing spears at you is rarely a good thing. Then, of course, there’s running for his life! Not dry days, per se, but perhaps “terror-filled.” (Sign me up!)
Olson seemed to be traversing a similar path of his own dry days. All of that was just practice–training–for the real thing.
Now to the Motilone Indians, the ones he really came to work with, the ones who really kill you, the ones not even the Yukos went near. (Spoiler: “Bruchko” is the Motilone version of Olson’s name.)
After all the pain, nasty diseases, and repeated feelings of failure–finally sweet days began to appear.
Slowly he was accepted, allowed to join the hunts. He learned their language and stumbled upon odd pieces of their culture that opened doors to understanding and even connecting.
God had hidden in the tribe’s collective memory stories that pointed to himself! Those stories left a haunting question, a missing piece that God would one day provide.
There in my comfortable chair, my thoughts lingered over Olson’s descriptions of the hammocks swung high in the large communal home, and his amazing friendship with Bobby (the first young Motilone to start walking the “Jesus trail”). Bobby introduced Jesus to the Motilone people in their weird-to-us way.
It all took so long. But the fruit of the Spirit was real as the tribe learned to walk the “Jesus trail”.
I read all over again things that stretch my understanding of the world and how life really works. Things that mess with my predictable, boring, Western-world, meaningless fluff life.
God-sort of things that make you pause. That strip the dull and lifeless from dry days, exposing what’s real.
Mmmm ….. I read halfway through the book this morning. And I already feel some living water seeping in.
Sun’s up, time to start the day. It was worth waking up early.
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Global veteran David Armstrong has set foot in 15 countries, and confesses that Crepes and Waffles in Bogota, Colombia is one of his favorite restaurants. Catch his classic post here on 8 Ways to Help your Family Flourish Overseas.