In the words of the publishers: "Bruce Olson (aka Bruchko) has been shot with bullets and arrows, kidnapped and tortured by guerillas, and survived disease, floods, and tornadoes during four decades as a lone missionary in the jungles of South America - for the glory of God!"
One story of him surviving disease was rather graphic but interesting. Describing one trip he took, he writes:
Because I was in a hurry to get medicine for the Motilones, I didn't stop to hunt for food. And the whole trip I didn't happen to see anything I could eat. I just kept going. Nor did I get much water to drink.
It was a mistake. I began to feel weak. On the third night on the trail I was so exhausted I had to stop early. I knew I needed food, but I couldn't even get up to look for any. I fell into a fitful sleep.
I dreamed about the jungle. It was beautiful and green and filled with butterflies. One flew into my mouth and got stuck, because its wings were wet. I could feel it beat its wings and struggle to get out. I half woke up. I was groggy.
There's a butterfly in my mouth. How strange, I thought. I'd better take it out. I put my hand in my mouth - and I did grab something. I started pulling it out. The more I pulled, the more came out.
Then I really woke up. I could feel this thing struggling all the way out of my throat. When I got it out and looked at it, I felt sick to my stomach. It was an intestinal worm, about a foot and a half long. He had gotten so hungry he crawled up my throat looking for food.
From that experience I learned always to eat something on the trail, if only to keep the parasites happy.
What struck me is that in the midst of all kinds if situations like this (and much worse!), Bruce Olson stayed in the jungles to teach the Indians about Jesus.
God even brought lonely, "secluded-deep-in-the-jungle" Bruce Olson a woman named Gloria. She was visiting her brother, who was a lieutenant in the Colombian army in charge of a military outpost in Tibu - a city Bruce would visit to get supplies and medicine for the Indians. Her brother wanted to see the jungle, so Bruce took them both out for a visit.
She fit right in with the Indian way of life on her visit, and, after she changed her career path from law to medicine so she could help the Indians; and, after she was converted to Christ, Bruce got engaged to marry her.
During their engagement, Gloria died in a car accident - they never married. In the face of such loss, Bruce stayed in the jungle, continued to serve Christ and the Indians, and sought first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Latter Bruce also lost his closest friend, Bobby, who was also his first convert among the Motilone tribe. Again, after such loss, Bruce stayed in the jungle and labored for Jesus.
The book ends with Bruce reflecting on why there has to be so much pain and suffering. He writes:
So life has to be like this, I thought. It has to be struggling and crying, even dying . . . I saw the faces of the Motilones, for whom the rest of the New Testament still had to be translated . . . There was so much to do . . . so many things that Christ had called me to do. It would take more pain, more loneliness. Maybe death.
Why was it so hard? Why?
The I saw Jesus. He was struggling up a hill with a great burden. His face was lined with grief, His back bent.
"I think I see," I said. "It's the cross."
"When Jesus calls a man, He bids him come and die." - Bonhoeffer
John 12:24-25: Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Acts 14:22: . . . through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
Oh Father, please make me more like Bruce Olson! Please make me more like Jesus! For Jesus' sake!
Bruce Olson, Bruchko (Lake May, Florida: Charisma House, 2006), 155, 185.