Roger Youderian

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Roger Youderian (January 21, 1924 – January 8, 1956) was a Christian missionary to Ecuador, where he was killed by Huaorani warriors.

Roger was born in Sumatra, Montana. He contracted polio at the age of nine, crippling him slightly. He overcame the effects of the disease during high school, making it possible for him to play basketball. After graduating, he attended Montana State College until he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943. As a paratrooper stationed in England, he assisted an Army chaplain and eventually became an evangelical Christian. In 1944, he participated in the Rhine jump and the Battle of the Bulge, and then returned to Montana in 1946.[1]

Upon returning, Roger entered Northwestern College in Minneapolis, by this time having been called to the mission field. There he studied Christian education and met Barbara Orton. The two married in 1951, and applied to be missionaries with the nondenominational mission board Gospel Missionary Union. Upon being accepted, they underwent training for six months in Kansas City in preparation for their work in Ecuador.[2]

Roger and Barbara and their infant daughter Beth left for Ecuador in 1953, staying first in Quito to study Spanish and eventually moving to Macuma, a mission station in the country's southern jungle. Youderian began work in Ecuador in 1953 under the mission board. Along with his wife Barbara and daughter Beth, he settled in the southern jungle of Ecuador, in a mission station called Macuma. There, he and his wife worked with a veteran missionary couple, ministering to the Shuar people. They focused on learning the language and developing a literacy program, and with that in mind, Roger spent time visiting Shuar homes and learning more about their culture.[3]

After working with them for about a year, Roger and his family began ministering to a tribe related to the Shuar, the Achuar people. He worked with Nate Saint to provide important medical supplies, but after a period of attempting to build relationships with them, he failed to see any positive effect and, growing depressed, considered returning to the United States. However, during this time four other missionaries in Ecuador were planning Operation Auca, an attempt to reach another people group, the Huaorani. Nate Saint approached him about joining their team to meet the Huaorani, and he assented.[4]

Roger set up camp at "Palm Beach" along the Curaray river with Jim Elliot and Ed McCully on January 3, 1956. During the day they were joined by Nate Saint and Pete Fleming. Having already contacted and exchanged gifts through the air with the Huaorani, the men hoped to have friendly encounters with them. On January 6, several Huaorani approached them and appeared to be friendly, but two days later, all five were attacked and killed by a group of Huaorani warriors. Roger's body was later pulled from the river and buried at Palm Beach.[5]

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