This true story is not exactly about a man going into a foreign country and preaching the gospel to an unknown people. That would have been his father’s story. As Steve Saint explains in the beginning chapter of the book, he wasn’t even a missionary.
“I had not been sent by North Americans to help people of the Amazon with their medical, educational, political, economic, and spiritual needs. I was born here. Though my “shell” looked North American, my heart and thinking processes were quite Latin American. And my passport said I was just as Ecuadorean as the president of the country.”
Steve Saint grew up with a foot in two entirely different worlds; the fast paced United States and the slow, uncomplicated, but often deadly jungles of South America. His father was one of the five missionaries killed by the savage “Aucas" when he was a small boy, but through a miracle of God and the ministry of his family they had turned to Christ, put aside their killing lifestyle, and accepted Steve as part of their family.
Steve was in his forties, married, and the father of four teenagers when the Waodani asked him to return and live in Ecuador with them. They were requesting, almost demanding, that he teach them to survive in the modern world that was fast pushing in on them. Outside groups had lavished medicine and other commodities on them, but it was putting them into a state of dependence that, if continued, would take their remaining freedom away.
It was fascinating to read about the Saint family’s move into the rain forest. They faced many challenges, but their love for the people and the knowlege that they were following God's plan for their lives kept them going. I was touched by the sincere love the Waodani “God followers” had for their Savior. It was wonderful to read the prayers and sermons given by the Christian elders in the community. They were filled with faith in Christ and thankfulness for His plentiful mercy.
Mincaye, the man who killed Nate Saint but is now called “Grandfather” by Steve Saint and his children, said once, “My heart was black and sick in sin, but then I heard that God sent His own son. His blood dripping and dripping, He washed my heart clean. Now I see you well because you are truly my brothers, God’s blood having washed your hearts clean too.”
I highly recommend this book. The message is one of God’s forgiveness and sovereign plan. He knows the beginning from the end and uses everything for our good.
“We acted badly, badly until they brought us God’s markings. Now, seeing those markings and walking Waengongi’s (God’s) trial, we live happily and in peace.”