Threshing The Wheat From The Chaff

| May/June 1971

  • Billy and his engine
    Billy and his engine just before taking part in a Shrine Parade in 1970. Courtesy of Billy M. Byrd, 369 S. Harrig St., Madisonville, Kentucky 42431.
    Billy M. Byrd

  • Billy and his engine

On this morning's TV 'TODAY' Show there was a most interesting interview of a widow whose missionary husband was murdered ten years ago by a tribe of wild Peruvian Indians. Several of these Indians, now peaceful and regretting that murder, were with her, appearing before Hugh Downs on the NBC show.

It was a most frightening story we read in about LIFE Magazine a decade ago how several male missionaries were brutally murdered when they attempted to take the Gospel to this tribe of Indians in the wilds of Peru. But instead of nurturing vengeance in their hearts over the loss of their husbands, these hardy, God-fearing wives journeyed to the very spot where their men were murdered and proceeded to make contacts for teaching the Gospel of Christian love after it had been so rudely interrupted. It is said that 'Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.' But these women have proven they were no fools and certainly angels were treading along at their sides.

'These Indians were so murderous that, not only did they kill our missionary husbands, but they were killing each other,' the lady missionary explained. 'After we have been teaching them the Gospel, they had ceased all killing among themselves, and they have expressed great remorse in having killed our husbands.'

There were two male Indians and one of their wives on the broadcast. The one Indian had become a minister of the Gospel among his people, aided by his lovely wife. There could be no dialogue between the Indians and Mr. Downs on the show, save only the interpretations by means of the American lady missionary who understood their rare Indian dialect.

'This tribe was actually being goaded on by their witch and devil-doctors to search out various homes within their tribe and killing them off to the point of almost wiping out their people,' the missionary explained. 'Now they are peaceful, one with another, they have renounced all killing and have taken up their lives in peaceful Christian living.'

The missionary went on, 'The tribe, instead of dying out, has now actually been experiencing a 'population explosion'.'


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