Back in 2001 Missionaries Jim and Roni Bowers were being flown by a missionary Pilot into Peru. With them were their six-year-old son Cory, and their infant daughter Charity. The Peruvian Air Force mistook the private plane for a drug cartel flyer. They opened fire, killing mother Roni and infant Charity.
At the funeral a few days later, Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint the missionary pilot who was martyred decades earlier at the hand of the Auca Indians, spoke one-on-one to heart broken Cory. He told him that he understood what it was like to lose a missionary parent at a very young age.
Elisabeth Elliot, whose husband Jim was also martyred by the Aucas on that same riverbank in South America alongside Nate Saint, then stood to speak. She began:
“You wonder what God is doing, and of course, we know that God never makes mistakes. He knows exactly what He is doing, and suffering is never for nothing. . . .”
She ended with a poem by Martha Snell Nicholson (A “mendicant” is a beggar.):
I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.