Bruchko is an autobiography written by Bruce Olsen of his life working with the Indians of Columbia. Containing two hundred and two pages, Bruchko was published by Creation House in 1973.
Bruce Olsen, an American missionary to the Motilone Indians since 1961, began his work at the age of nineteen. While growing up in a quasi-Christian home, Bruce saw a missionary preach at a local church. It was after seeing the pictures and hearing the man’s stories that the young Bruce decided he would become a missionary to South America. Through a series of miraculous and divine interventions, Bruce Olsen was on his way to Venezuela.
Upon his arrival in Venezuela, Bruce Olsen became connected with some other American missionaries. He soon found that he disagreed with their attempted “Americanization” of the natives. This conflict and the fact that Bruce was not reliant on any of the mission organizations quickly made him an outcast among the other missionaries. While staying at a small apartment with friends he had made, Bruce learned Spanish well enough to communicate. During his time in Venezuela, Bruce also learned of a fierce and terrible Indian tribe located deep in the jungle. This tribe was the Motilones. It was no sooner that he had heard of this tribe that God began to speak to Bruce that the Motilones were the tribe to whom he was to take the Gospel.
Bruce now had the daunting task of taking the Gospel to a tribe whose language, culture, and exact location was unknown. On the journey to find the Motilones, Bruce Olsen came upon a different Indian civilization, the Yukos. While staying for several months with this primitive people, Bruce introduced medicine and Christ. Although the latter did not have an instant or obvious affect, a fact which greatly discouraged Bruce, God used the situation to teach Bruce how to deal with despair and boredom. During his stay with the Yukos, Bruce learned the Yuko language and the location of Motilone territory. A long trek ensued; when Bruce neared the heart of Motilone country, he was ambushed and wounded by an arrow shot through his thigh. He was taken back to one of the many Motilone camps where he was held hostage. Without proper care and medicine for his wound, Bruce became deathly sick. Realizing this, Bruce took a God-given opportunity and escaped from the Motilone camp. Bruce, though injured and malnourished, was able to make his way back to civilization. It was not the country he left. Bruce was now in Columbia! Making his way to Bogota, Bruce was able to gain permission from the government to stay, and he received further aid. He was going back to the Motilones.
His return to the tribe was a daunting task which he executed with caution and tact. After gaining the trust of the tribe, Bruce became fast friends with a young man he nick-named “Bobby.” In time, Bobby and Bruce (or Bruchko as he was called among the Motilones) would become pact brothers according to Motilone tradition. Now Bruchko had the extremely difficult task of deciphering the complex Motilone language. It was not for many months that Bruchko finally came to the realization that the dialect was a tonal language (words with different meaning depending on the pitch of voice used). All this time Bruce had been trying to give the gospel of Christ to these Indians with little progress, but now that he could more fully communicate, he even began working on translating the Bible! The Motilone translation was not a literal one. With the help of Bobby (the first Motilone to come to Christ), Bruce made a translation based around the culture of the Motilones. Eventually the rest of the tribe gave their lives to Christ. These primitive natives showed the true meaning of sacrifice and devotion in their walk with Christ, no matter what rejection or persecution they faced. Throughout the book, Bruce points back to the lesson that God was teaching him during this entire time: man may reject you, but that does not mean God has rejected you.
This synopsis does not do the book Bruchko justice in the least for fear of spoiling the plot. Accurately recounting for even some of the miracles and divine interventions told in the book would take pages of writing. Reading the story of Bruce Olsen is highly encouraged for any believer who has ever felt discouraged or rejected in any way. Bruchko is the amazing story of a real man who encountered real problems in order to serve a real God.
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