Don Richardson tells a moving story in his book LORDS OF THE EARTH. Two missionaries, Stan Dale and Phil Masters, were working in Irian Jaya, Indonesia a few decades ago. They were working with the Yali tribe in the Snow Mountains. This tribe observed many customs that we would consider cruel and inhumane.
As one might imagine, when the missionaries began their work among these people, they did not receive a red carpet welcome. One night Stan Dale was attacked by the tribesman and shot five times with arrows. Fortunately, he survived and returned to work with the tribe. Dale worked for several years without results. Meanwhile the hostility and rancor of the tribesman grew until Dale and the other missionaries faced what they knew was an impending attack.
One day, the vicious attack came. While others ran for safety, Stan Dale, Phil Masters, and a Dani tribesman named Yemu, remained with the hope that they could somehow persuade the attacking Yali tribesman to cease.
As Stan faced the murderous men, he was shot by a multitude of arrows. However, as each arrow pierced his body, something phenomenal occurred. Stan would remove the arrow—and break it in two. Finally, he reached the point that he no longer had the power to extract the arrows. Nonetheless, in spite of his physical weakness, he continued to stand.
Seeing the courage of Stan Dale standing with fifty arrows in his body, Phil Masters displayed his valor. Standing in his tracks, Phil was quickly encircled by warriors. By now, the warriors were even more vicious because they were frightened. Stan had not fallen, thus the warriors became desperate. Rapidly they shot Phil full of arrows. After the attackers had finally subdued the two missionaries, they mutilated the two bodies.
Following the mutilation, the Yali tribesman remembered that the missionaries had spoken of a resurrection. To counter-act this, they dispersed the remains of the two missionaries throughout the jungle.
Two men, two lives, two horrible deaths—did it make a difference? Yes. In these acts of bravery, the savage, godless system of the Yali tribe was destroyed. Because Stan Dale and Phil Masters willingly suffered persecution, many of the Yali tribe as well as tribes in the surrounding area decided that they wanted the same faith as these two courageous men.
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life,” (John 12:24-25).