Voices From the Past: Ed McCully


Sometimes you just need a good dose of reality to wake you up. In coming to grips with the radical call of Jesus to “follow me”, there is nothing that can bring it home for you like reading a biography or auto-biography of a missionary. I have recently read such in Reckless Abandon.I have been challenged. I have rejoiced. And I have wept. Many times I have been speechless. Yet other times I have been more than eager to share what I have read–most of my Twitter followers can attest to this. In this great missionary auto-biography by David Sitton, he mentioned the “portrait of reckless abandon” so beautifully and sacrificially painted by the blood of the faithful martyrs in Ecuador. In 1956, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian were “repeatedly speared, beaten with clubs, and brutally attacked to death with machetes by a gang of hostile Auca Indians because of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ that they had willingly brought to them. With that picture in mind, read this letter written by Ed McCully to Jim Elliot as he described how he felt God was compelling him to be a missionary. As you read this letter, know that this man would soon give and lose his life for the sake of Jesus and his gospel in an unreached people. But in losing their lives, the “Ecuador Five” gained infinitely more–eternal joy in the presence of God.

Letter written by Ed McCully to Jim Elliot when they were students at Wheaton College six years before they would die for the glory of God and the exaltation of his Name:

September 22, 1950

“Since taking this job [McCully was working as a hotel clerk] things have happened. I’ve been spending my free time studying the Word. Each night the Lord seemed to get hold of me a little more. Night before last, I was reading in Nehemiah. I finished the book and read it through again. Here was a man who left everything as far as position was concerned to go do a job nobody else could handle. And because he went, the whole remnant back in Jerusalem got right with the Lord. Obstacles and hindrances fell away and a great work was done.

Jim, I couldn’t get away from it. The Lord was dealing with me. On the way home yesterday morning, I took a long walk and came to a decision which I know is of the Lord. In all honesty before the Lord, I say that no one or nothing beyond himself and the Word has any bearing upon what I have decided to do. I have one desire now–to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy into it. Maybe he’ll send me some place where the name of Jesus Christ is unknown. Jim, I’m taking the Lord at his Word, and I trust him to prove his Word. It’s kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket, but we’ve already put our trust in him for salvation, so why not do it as far as our life is concerned? If there is nothing to this business of eternal life, we might as well lose everything in one crack and throw our present life away without life hereafter. But if there is something to it, then everything else the Lord says must hold true likewise.Pray for me, Jim.

Man, to think the Lord got hold of me just one day before I was to register for school! I’ve got money put away and was all set to go. Today was registration, so I went over to school to let them know why I wouldn’t be back. I really prayed like the Apostle asked the Ephesians to pray, that I might ‘open my mouth boldly.’ I talked to all the fellows that I knew well. Then I went in to see a professor I thought a lot about. I told him what I planned to do, and before I left he had tears in his eyes. I went to see another professor and talked to him. All I got was a cold farewell and a good luck wish.

Well, that’s it. Two days ago I was a law student. Today I’m an untitled nobody. Thanks, Jim, for the intercession on my behalf. Don’t let up. And brother, I’m really praying for you too as you’re making preparation to leave. I only wish I were going with you.”

— Ed McCully

May we all consider ourselves “untitled nobod[ies]” serving and declaring a glorious Somebody who is worthy of the worship of the nations!

“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” – Psalm 96:3

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