For Andrew Stuck of Markle growing up as a missionary child in Ecuador meant living with what most Americans would consider primitive conditions. “Our use of electricity was hit and miss,” said Stuck. “We had a generator for backup and were miles from a supermarket. Our family traveled to Quito to stock up on food.”
Stuck was born in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. His parents, Tim and Ruth Stuck, had themselves been born and raised in Ecuador as children of missionaries.
While growing up, Andrew and his two younger brothers, who were also born in Ecuador, lived in various locations with their parents. At one point the Stuck family lived in a coastal city called Esmeraldas (meaning ‘Emeralds’), then a town bordering Columbia, South America. “It was not a dangerous area then,” he recalled. Later, the family lived in Santo Domingo (Saint Sunday) while Andrew studied at boarding school in Quito. During his high school years, the family lived in Quito.
As part of his mission work, Tim Stuck often took a canoe with an outboard motor on the river to reach groups of people. “He wanted to present the news about Jesus to them,” said Stuck. The Stuck family returned to the United States every four years for a one-year furlough.
Besides the important work of teaching people about God, the Stuck family has historical significance. Andrew’s great uncle was a missionary in Ecuador in the 1950s. Another missionary in that area, Jim Elliott, desired to tell the Aucan tribe of Ecuador about God. Unfortunately, the Aucan Indians were headhunters and feared by most people. In 1956 Elliott and four other male missionaries, including a pilot named Nate Saint, entered the Aucan village, intent on befriending the tribe. Sadly, the Aucans murdered the entire group.
When the missionaries failed to contact their mission base by radio, a pilot flew over the area. He saw bodies lying on the ground and radioed for help. The ground team that found the bodies was led by Andrew’s great-uncle (his aunt’s father). “My father’s parents were working in the jungle and knew all of the missionaries who had been killed,” said Andrew.
Amazingly, two widows of men killed by the Aucans returned to live with the tribe. Several of the tribe members became Christian and church leaders. Elliott’s widow, Elizabeth Elliott, authored the book, Through Gates of Splendor about her husband’s experience and her decision to live with the Aucan people after his death. In 2006 the movie, End of the Spear, was based on the story of Nate Saint, and his life with the Aucans.
After Andrew graduated from high school and left for college in the States, his family moved to Uruguay where they reside today. “They are establishing strong friendships with the people there by helping them in various ways,” said Andrew. His mother tutors the people in English, while his father assists local churches.
While attending Bethel College, Andrew, who majored in Social Studies Education, met his future wife, Sarah. They married in 2008. In February 2009 the couple moved to Korea to teach in an elementary school. They returned to the States to live in October 2010. Andrew is employed with the Bluffton-Harrison School system.
With such a varied background, Andrew Stuck believes he has led a rather peaceful life. “Some missionary kids had horror stories to tell, but I didn’t,” he said. “My family taught my brothers and me at early ages to be grateful. We understood that living in a different culture made our experiences special. We were not deprived, but blessed, especially by the people we met.”
Published in Ossian Sun Riser