About Shell, Ecuador

Shell, Ecuador is a town of appoximately 10,000 people. It is located almost exactly in the middle of Ecuador, along the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains. It is just west of Shell where the plantlife turns from that of the mountains to that of the jungle. The elevation is about 3300 ft. above sea level.  The Shell Oil Company came to the area in 1937 prospecting for oil, and in the beginging, the town of Shell consisted of only an airstrip and a few shacks. Atfter numerous attacks by indigenous tribes, and having not produced any oil, Shell Oil pulled out of the area in 1948.  Because of its airstrip and because of road access to Quito, Mission Aviary Fellowship reocupied the area around 1949 as an operations base for missionary work in Ecuador. Shell has grown over the last 60 years to have a military base, businesses, churches and schools, as well as a home for abandoned and abused children called Casa de Fe. 

This is an aerial image of Shell, Ecuador. Pastaza river (left), airstrip (middle), town of Shell (to right of airstrip), Casa de Fe (yellow dot)

Perhaps you have heard of Shell for reasons other than the oil company, MAF or Casa de Fe. Perhaps you know of this place because 5 young men, in September of 1955, found a Huaroni settlement in the jungle and knew God was calling them to this area to visit these people. For the next 3 months they brought gifts and items of interest and dropped them into the jungle for the Huaroni people. The Huaroni's, in return, started giving gifts to the men in the plane. On January 3, 1956, the men landed on a beach about 4 miles from the Huaroni village and then flew over the village to invite the community to visit them at the beach location. On January 5 some of the Huaroni did indeed visit, and on January 8 the men were visited again. On this day, however, all of the men were killed. One would think that this tradgey would stop people from trying to minister to the Huaroni people, but it served to intesify the desires of the Christian community. Over 1000 college students applied to take their place to reach the Huaroni in the jungle of Ecuador, and within 3 years, Jim Elliot's widow and Nate Saint's sister were living with the tribe. 

So why were they killed? The Huaroni people thought the men to be dangerous but realized only after they had killed them that all five men had guns but did not use them. These men were willing to die to serve the Huaroni, and because of that they were able to pave the way for relationships to be built. Would you have drawn your pistol? (Taken from "Biographical Sketches of Memorable Christians of the Past" James Kiefer)

This is a picture of the plane in the central park of Shell. It is a representation of the Plane used by the 5 missionaries to reach the Huaorani tribe.

"Beyond the Gates of Splendor" is a documentary which later became the feature film "The End of the Spear". (Click the picture above to order the documentary from Amazon.com)

I think this book is incredibly valuable to anyone interested in the heritage of the ministries of the Saints, Elliots, and others who initiated “Operation Auca,” and to anyone with an interest in missions, particularly in ministry to tribal peoples. I hope Menkaye lives a long time to carry out his vision and that others take it up as well. (Book review by Barbara of Barbarah@wordpress.com)

Click the image to order the book.