The end of an era . . . (When the Saints go marching in!)

Years and years ago when I was in 6th grade, I believe, the cover of Time magazine featured Dr. Paul Carlson,  martyred missionary during the Congo uprising. Somewhere in my mind’s eye, I have a picture of his bullet riddled body lying at the foot of a wall – a wall where all the other captives had stepped into his surgeon’s hands to be lifted up and over to safety. Years later in my life I would meet the man who was holding Dr. Carlson’s hand to lift him over the wall when there was a burst of gun fire. . . and that hand went limp.
My parents were very missionary minded to the extent that my father, who owned a construction company, purchased a house and land to be used for missionaries to enjoy while they were home on furlough. The stability of having a home base allowed them to go out and do all their visiting and fund raising and then return to their own place – they didn’t have to pack up small children and live out of suitcases for a year! I know that this was such a blessing to these people, most of whom are still in contact after all these years. Our family and theirs, bound by Christ and the simple friendships that formed during that time.
As a toddler, I was unaware of the 5 missionaries killed by the Auca Indians in Equador, but their legacy would certainly color my life as I grew up. Though I heard of Jim Elliot’s famous quote: “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” it would take years to grasp the depth of love and commitment this took.
Haunted by the image of Dr. Carlson, hearing of the 5 men speared to death by the Aucas – I did mental battle with a God who would allow this to happen to those who had given up everything to go and serve Him, only to die in the process.
As the years passed, the wife of Jim Elliot and the sister of Nate Saint would go to these same men who had killed their husband and brother and tell them of Jesus Christ and offer forgiveness in His name.
Little did I know that my life’s path would cross with these people – the man who held Dr. Carlson’s hand and the wife of Jim Elliot. . . but God knew.
It is an amazing thing to look at the path that one has traveled and marvel at the God who ordained it to show you His wonder and majesty.
When I got home from school each day, I would turn on the TV and watch the Mike Douglas show. He came across as such a nice man. Gentle and genuine, sincere and kind. I got the impression that he just wanted to be himself and not a celebrity. Years later, I found myself sitting backstage at his show (November of ’72) when Cybil Shepherd and Robert Goulet were the guests. Mike Douglas walked past on his way onstage and stopped, looked me in the eye and greeted me with, “Hi, how are you?” as he shook my hand. I responded “Fine, thank you” before I realized who it was. The shock struck my body the second he moved on toward stage. There was no one with me to say, “I just shook hands and spoke with Mike Douglas!!!”
My senior year in high school, my family moved to Delaware and I wound up calling the local radio station to ‘request songs’. This was thrilling to me, as the radio station was a long distance call from the town in which I grew up. I wound up talking to the disc jockey, Lee Masters, every evening and finally met him. We developed a friendship that lasted 7 years. During this time, he took me to Bucks County PA to meet his mom and sister. His real name was Jarl Mohn. I moved away, and my job allowed me to run into him from time to time, but then, I married.  The last time I spoke to him was to tell him we had named our first born son Jarl.
Four years ago, I ‘Googled’ him to see what had happed to him . . . he went on to be the CEO of MTV, the creator of E! Entertainment network and recently became the CEO of NPR – he lives in the same neighborhood as Arnold Schawrzenegger. I contacted him on Facebook and he remembered me ‘vividly’, (his words), but I was soon ‘unfriended’ when he found me to be conservative while he posted pictures of he and Obama shaking hands and likewise with Hillary . . . I don’t fit his profile of friends, it appears.
The recent home going of Elisabeth Elliot brought back all these memories. I became aquainted with her ministry through her books and her radio program “Gateway to Joy” – a reference to her book, “Through Gates of Splendor” where she told of her husband’s death at the hands of the Aucas. As the years passed, I purchased many of her books and got up the courage to send her one of my calendars that I have produced since 1988, along with a letter that expressed how much her ministry meant to me. That began a yearly mailing of my calendar (which she hung in her breakfast nook) and light correspondence, which I still treasure.
We met twice in these years – once when I purchased tickets to hear her speak down near Ashville, N.C., and the second time at her beckoning. I can’t express what an impression she made on this young mother and how her wisdom and insight armed me for the task of rearing my 3 sons. She was an amazing woman.
So – meeting Mike Douglas, knowing Jarl Mohn before he was anybody, and learning at the knee of Elisabeth Elliot has taught me this: People want to be people. They want sincerity, a genuine ‘look me in the eye’, a realness that can’t be manufactured. As enamored I was of Elisabeth Elliot, I gave her a genuine me when I was with her and let her be her – warts and all – because we may live in the same neighborhood in heaven. . . We are all saints. Some are more saintly than others, eh? She taught me much with  her books and her radio program, and I will be ever grateful to God for allowing me to cross paths with her in my life.
I am still learning – she has her reward. Our God IS an awesome God.