A couple years ago, I met Steve Saint and Mincaye. Steve is a super-nice and very humble guy. Mincaye constantly had a big smile on his face, and he gave me a big hug (as he was hugging me, I thought to myself, "I'm being hugged by a murderer...a man who has murdered many people by spearing them and/or cutting them up with a machete." Of course, now Mincaye is a born-again Christian, and no longer a murderer.) I bought a copy of "End of the Spear" at one of the tables that was selling them. Steve signed my book, and Mincaye put his inked thumb print on it (since he cannot write or speak English). Then, after driving away, I drove back, wanting to buy a copy for my mom and one for my sister. By the time I got there, they were closing up, and all the books were gone. I found Steve and double-checked with him to make sure there were no more books left, and he said he had a few left in his truck. So I walked with him and Mincaye to Steve's truck, and he gave me two signed copies. I tried to pay him, but he refused payment, and said to consider them his Christmas gift to me (it was Christmas time).
The below video features Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint, one of the five missionaries murdered by the Auca Indians in Ecuador in 1956; and Mincaye, one of the Auca tribesmen who killed the missionaries. The woman in the video is Ginny Saint, Steve's wife.
Nathanael "Nate" Saint (August 30, 1923 – January 8, 1956) was an evangelical Christian missionary pilot to Ecuador who, along with four others, was killed while attempting to evangelize the Waodani people through efforts known as Operation Auca.
In September of 1955, after the arrival of teammates Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, and Peter Fleming (Roger Youderian would join them a few months later), Saint found a Huaorani settlement while searching by air. In order to reach the remote tribe, Saint and the team lowered gifts, including machetes and clothing, to the Huaorani in a bucket tied to the plane. The Huaorani were a widely feared tribe, because of their chronic fear and anger. They tended to attack and kill any outsiders without provocation. Nevertheless, the tribe displayed excitement on receiving the gifts, and soon gave back gifts of their own. After three months of successful air contact, the missionaries decided to attempt to meet the people on the ground, and on January 3, 1956, they set up camp four miles from the Auca settlement, using a portion of the beach as a landing strip. Their initial personal contact with the Huaorani started out encouraging; however, on Sunday, January 8, 1956 the entire team was killed on the beach when armed Huaorani met them. Saint's body was found downstream. He was 32 when he died.
Saint and the other four men became famous worldwide as a result. Life Magazine published a 10-page photo essay on the story, which was also covered in Reader's Digest and many other publications. The story is credited with sparking an interest in Christian missions among the youth of their time and is still today to find Christian missionaries working throughout the world who claim to have been inspired by it. Today, a small school for missionary children in Shell, Ecuador bears Nate Saint's name.
Rachel Saint, Nate's sister continued the mission efforts to the Huaorani, which eventually came to fruition.
The son of Nate Saint, Steve, now works with the Huaorani Indians and often travels around the world preaching the gospel, often accompanied by, Mincaye, one of the killers of Palm Beach. In 2005, a documentary based on the story was released entitled "Beyond the Gates of Splendor." The following year, a feature film entitled "End of the Spear" was released on January 20, 2006, a week and a half after the 50 year anniversary of the killings. Saint wrote a book about his experiences, also titled "End of the Spear," to coincide with the release of the film.
Obviously, the willingness of the five missionaries to die for their faith—and to refuse to shoot at their attackers—looms large. Equally as heroic, however, were the actions of these missionaries' wives and relatives, who, according to one interviewee, "were in this thing just as much as the men were." Despite being hesitant to allow her husband to venture into Waodani territory, missionary wife Barbara Youderian says she realized, "I can't keep my husband home just because I have a fear." Another wife, Elisabeth Elliot, joins up with Steve's aunt, Rachel, in staying behind after the killings to forge a lasting relationship with the Waodani. Their efforts ultimately curb the imminent self-extinction of the tribe, as noted by anthropologists and Waodani alike. In fact, one older tribesman says his people "were almost down to two people. ... If [Rachel and Elisabeth] had not come, there would have been no one left."
Prior to their interaction with the missionaries, the Waodani had no method for resolving conflict, which led to numerous unnecessary deaths. Theirs was an individualistic society with no concept of acting for the good of the group. The consistent love—through action—of Rachel Saint and others helped effect change on this social setting, leading to a 90 percent reduction in the Waodani homicide rate in only a few years.
At the core of this transformation, this documentary shows, are the elements of forgiveness and redemption. Rachel, Elisabeth, Barbara and the other families continue to love the very people who murdered their husbands and brothers. Later, Steve follows suit and leaves his life in the United States to return to the Waodani with his entire family. His children end up calling their grandfather's killer, Mincaye, their own grandfather. Steve's sister is even baptized in the same water her father had been killed in—--by two of the men who had killed him. "All I knew was that I really loved these two guys," she says.
Just as Rachel Saint and others helped effect the Waodani's social changes, they also influenced the spiritual culture, inviting the tribesmen to live in the peace, forgiveness, hope and love of Jesus Christ. Though they included a creator God called Waeumi, the Waodani's ancient spiritual beliefs were based around "jumping the great boa." The ultimate test in death that they spent their lives preparing for was to climb a trail upward and jump over the great snake. If they failed, they would fall back to the ground and become termites. Because of this, the Waodani believed life's purpose was to become as strong as possible—--which, in their eyes, included (and somewhat excused) killing each other.
Anthropologists Clayton and Carole Robarchek describe the Waodani as one of the most violent people in human history, and the stories told by several natives undergird this (along with the culture's 60 percent homicide rate). We hear of relatives speared, drowned, cut into pieces or hacked across the neck and face with machetes. A mother is said to have strangled her young daughter so she could be buried with the mother's dying husband (as was the custom).
To convey the notion of God's Word, the Waodani are told that "if they followed His carving while they were alive, then they would find His house when they died." These "carvings" included the instruction to not kill. Dayumae, a native Waodani girl who was taken in by Rachel at an early age, comes back to teach her tribe the Bible on Sundays, which she says is God's day.
Mincaye is the one who murdered Steve's dad, and yet Steve grew up among the Waodani, after his dad was killed. Once the Waodani tribe members became Christians, Mincaye 'adopted' Steve and raised him as his own. Steve considers Mincaye part of his family now. Such is the power of forgiveness through Jesus Christ; not to mention the power of the Holy Spirit to change a primitive tribe of murderers into loving followers of Christ Jesus.
The other man in the video who doesn't say anything is Randy Alcorn, an American Christian author and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, a non-profit Christian organization dedicated to teaching an eternal viewpoint and helping the needy of the world. Eternal Perspective Ministries owns the royalties to his books and 100 percent of them are given away to support missions, famine relief, pro-life work, and other ministries.
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