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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Missionary (10/19/06)

TITLE: Suffer Me to Stand
By Ann Grover
10/26/06


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I stagger through the last steps of the gauntlet, but the Iroquois warrior drags me forward. Rivulets of blood stream down my chest and legs, and my feet are numb from the snow.

While I’m being lashed to the stake, I seek out the Hurons who were captured with Brother Gabriel and myself.

“Look to our Father in Heaven for grace. Be strong. Our suffering will last but a moment. Great will be your reward.”

I am punched for my words of encouragement.

The smell of scorching flesh assaults my nostrils, and I remember the first scent I encountered when I approached this foreign land years before: the tangy fragrance of evergreens rising through the mists along the rocky shore. I had breathed in the magnificent, heady perfume, eager to begin my life among the natives in the New World.

Red-hot hatchet blades have been placed on my shoulders, and I stifle my cry. Echon, “the man who carries the load,” the Hurons called me. Many times, I carried a canoe or pack in portages around rapids or waterfalls; now, I willingly carry this burden for my Lord.

I was so exhausted as we travelled deep into Huron territory that I couldn’t imagine how I would endure another day, but at the same time, I was overwhelmed with amazing joy that my suffering was for God. The hordes of ravenous blackflies and mosquitoes, the mud, the bare rock that cradled our weary bodies each night. All for Jesus, all for Him.

An Iroquois spits into my face. I gaze on him with all the love and compassion that I know Jesus bears for him. He is a ransomed child of God. He draws back, confused.

Another warrior approaches with a knife. Grabbing me by the hair, he slices through my scalp. Blood obscures my vision, and then, as the flow abates, I see he is frowning. The two warriors peer at me intently.

Boiling water is poured over my head.

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”

The Brothers and I had baptized the sick and dying first, those who had succumbed to smallpox and other diseases. In the beginning, the Hurons thought we had brought plagues on purpose, to lure them into baptism. We were blamed for crop failures and defeat in battle with other tribes, but we calmly maintained our trust in God. Later, the Hurons’ faith in Jesus grew, and we baptized them by the thousands.

We continued to teach the Hurons about Jesus, to love their neighbours as themselves, and to embrace the way of peace. They put aside the weapons of warfare. But the Iroquois nation rose against them, penetrated deep into Huronia, and destroyed village after village, killing my beloved brothers and sisters.

Now, peering through swollen eyes, I see that many of the Huron captives are already in the everlasting arms of the Father. God, have compassion on their precious souls.

Pieces of pitchy bark are laid about my chest and shoulders, around my loins and feet, and then set ablaze. The smoke surrounds me, rising as incense, carrying my prayers for swift and sweet mercy.

The warrior returns. Encouraged by the crowd of Iroquois, he takes a mighty swing with his axe. My bones crack, and I feel a curious lightness. Another swing, and I realize my feet have been severed.

God, give me courage. I have walked with You in joy, followed You with gladness all the days of my life. Now, suffer me to stand, during my last moments, as one worthy of You.

I hear faint whimpering from Brother Gabriel, and I comfort him through my blistered lips.

“Our Father sees us, dear brother. A few final sufferings and we’ll see His face. What joy, Gabriel!”

What manner of treatment comes now? I welcome the Iroquois warrior with a smile, but I fear it’s a distorted grimace. For answer, he pries open my scalded mouth and shoves a searing iron down my throat.

Here am I. Send me.

And so I came.

I cannot breathe.

A knife is raised. Sudden fiery pain in my chest.

For one darkening moment, I see the throbbing mass of my own heart.

Into Your hands, Father...

***

Based on the life and death of Jean de Brébeuf (1593 - 1649) - Missionary to the Huron people. “Suffer me to stand” is a phrase from his writings.


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This article has been read 4087 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 10/26/06
Wow!
Linda Watson Owen10/26/06
It has taken me a few moments to compose myself in order to type after reading this skillfully written, moving account. I bow my head in humble thankfulness for such missionaries who have given absolutely everything for the sake of the gospel of Christ. One of my favorite hymns is by Jean de Brebeuf, one he wrote to help share the gospel message to the Hurons. The title is "Twas in the Moon of Wintertime" and is #244 in the Methodist hymnal. When I sing it during Advent this year I will sing it with a new understanding of its author's great sacrifice. Thank you, dear writer.
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/29/06
This is indeed a powerful piece. I did find it curious that there was little direct mention of the unbearable pain the MC was going through, but his spirit shone through strong. Good job.
Betty Castleberry10/30/06
You had me from the first sentence. A part of me almost didn't want to finish reading this, but still, I had to read to the end. This was very intense, and very well done.
Sandra Petersen 10/30/06
I had to come back to this article after reading it out loud to my husband last night. He and I were moved by the strength to endure and the compassion to love shown by this missionary. Very well-written! Your descriptions, while horrifying to think about, really made this account shine.

I think the Holy Spirit will give us plenty of unction and strength should we find ourselves in a similar though contemporary situation. Well done!
Anita Neuman10/31/06
Wow! I was only slightly familiar with Jean de Brébeuf - but this certainly adds some perspective. This is horrifying and encouraging and brilliantly written. Great job!
dub W11/01/06
Thank you for sharing this interesting article. Might think about being more conservative with the pronoun "I"
Sara Harricharan 11/01/06
Reading this made me squirm and wonder if I would ever be able to keep that attitude if I would ever find myself in such a situation.
For me, this was a powerful and emotionally-charged read.
Great job!
william price11/02/06
I thought I had commented on this story already, but I have not. I remember having to read it a few times to get through it. Not because it was poorly written, but so heavy and moving. I had to come up for air. Very well done. I hope this story does well. God bless.
Donna Haug11/02/06
Congratulations, Ann! A well deserved win. My goodness. That hurt just to read! It's so hard to imagine such suffering as we sit in such comfort and freedom. Terrific work!
Helen Paynter11/02/06
Phew! A very well deserved win. Congratulations.
Joanne Sher 11/02/06
Oh, my. This was SO hard to read - but so very worth it. Your imagery is so very powerful and wonderful and vivid. Definitely a masterful masterpiece.
Sharlyn Guthrie11/02/06
Congratulations! Your writing is superb. The story is gut-wrenching.
Maxx .07/01/07
This was one of my favorite pieces in the BoB this year! Congrats on yet another BoB placing! You are so gifted ... what an excellent talent! Congrats!
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/01/07
This is a powerful story portraying with wonderful writing the essence of the missionary heart, the Christian heart, being one with Christ's sufferings. Congratulations on BOB placement.
Pat Guy 07/01/07
Congratulations Ann on this deserving and awesome piece - I'm so glad this made it.

Happy dancin with ya girl! Enjoy the air up there! ;)
Joanne Sher 07/01/07
I loved this the first time I read it (I judged for this one the first time around!!) and every other time. So powerful and amazing and every other word like that I can or cannot come up with. Congratulations, Ann.
Sharlyn Guthrie07/01/07
Congratulations, Ann! This is an excellent piece, and well-deserving of recognition.
Catrina Bradley 07/01/07
Ann, I'm overcome. Wonderfully awful account of the horror and the joy of a missionary. Congrats!!!
Suzanne R07/02/07
Congratulations, Ann!

I was a judge the week this was entered, and I hated it then, as I do now. But that's because it was so well written, drew me in so powerfully and I wasn't at all comfortable. So - consider it a high compliment that it involves the reader so strongly, and I'm really pleased it has done so well with the BoB results!
Linda Watson Owen07/02/07
Ann, congratulations on this powerful piece's placement in Best of the Best. Words again fail me in the light of your skillful presentation of Jean de Brebeuf's sacrifice. After reading this the first time, I had our choir sing 'T'was in the Moon of Wintertime' as an anthem. We introduced it with a short telling of his life and death. It was a very memorable addition to our worship last Christmas. Thank you again for so masterfully bringing the inspiring story of this saint to our hearts and minds.
Loren T. Lowery07/03/07
Your eloquent writing brought to mind Oswald Chambers. Presenting this man's life and his sacrfice in the way you have, makes him come alive and serve once more. Congratulations on your well-deserved BoB award.
Sylvia Huffnagle07/23/07
Ditto for me. I agree with the other comments about this article and the writer.
Kimberly Lane09/03/07
Your imagery is superb. Congratulations on your win--can't wait to read more of your work.
David F. Palmieri Sr. 12/05/07
Wow!...otherwise, speachless...and I fear what man may say to me...makes me feel so inadequate...
humbling reading...
Paula Gast02/21/08
Rivetting!
David (The Goliath Assassin)02/27/08
That's how I'd want to go. Of course, an instant-death wound would be much more preferable! Although grizzly, there's a ribbon of sweetness in this piece that floats the mind to thoughts of God and Heaven. I can see why this won a BoB. It also encourages me to keep trying. Thank you for this read.

~The Goliath Assassin
Tammy Bovee03/01/08
It takes a lot to bring me to the point beyond words, but this piece did that!
Laus Deo!
Tammy Bovee03/01/08
Your writing moved me beyond the finite world into the realm of the divine. The heart of it captures the essence of what every earnest believer is longing for more of-eternal perspective. May God be praised for your talent and for the effort you have given forth in desiring to give back to your creator! I am certain it is a pleasing gift to our glorious God.
Laus Deo!
Tammy Bovee
Lynn Jacky04/03/08
Hi: Congratulations. Excellent writing. Great story.
Carol Penhorwood 10/26/09
You have an amazing gift! God will be glorified through your talent!