SaiEndo 06-9-134      




Steve Saint

Tyndale, 2005, 358 pp.  ISBN 0-8423-6439-0


Steve Saint is the son of Nate Saint, one of the five missionaries speared by the ‘Aucas’ of Ecuador in 1956.  The massacre made headlines at the time and influenced thousands of young people to consider a missionary career.  In this book, Steve tells the story of the Waodani (formerly known as Aucas, or savages) as it relates to his life.


Steve was 5 years old when his father was killed.  He grew up with the Waodani, living with his Aunt Rachel, who lived with them as a missionary until her death in 1994.  Steve went to college in the U.S., married, had children, and became a successful business man.  Upon Rachel’s death, the Waodani insisted that Steve and his family return and live with them and help them face the challenges of encroaching “civilization.” 


His experience with, love for, and efforts on behalf of the Waodani, and their response and efforts on their own behalf, result in a story of suspense, hope, and occasional hilarity.  The impact of Christ upon their lives is irrefutable.  This is a must read.


By inference, it also includes a number of important lessons for missions today.  To see these fleshed out, read Steve Saint’s book, The Great Omission.  Steve Saint demonstrates how missionaries who live with, know, and love a people can help them in important long term ways that short-termers can never know.


“I have long dreaded the thought of getting to the end of life and regretting that I allowed my own timidity or other people’s expectations to determine the course of my life.  I had decided at a much younger age that several of my beliefs should determine the course of my life.” (144)


“I believe that the same Intelligent Designer who created me has given me the freedom to make choices within the script of my life.  But I also believe that Waengongi, the Creator, has an epic script into which my minute presence has been written.” (144)


“After each chapter, life just grinds on, and we have to go on making choices and living with the consequences.” (145)


“I knew there would be people who would try to make heroes of us for the sacrifices we were going to make for the Waodani.  I also knew that our sacrifice would not be what those people were thinking of: leaving our world of ease for a world of deprivation and hardship. No, our real sacrifice would simply be to continue giving up control of our lives.” (145)


“Hands had been stretching out to the Waodani for decades.  They had responded to the temptation by receiving that unending stream of gifts from a variety of organizations, from a number of countries.  There is a tendency for generosity and the desire to be significant in the lives of other people to mix with a bit of selfish desire.  We like to find a little pond where we can be big fish.  This deadly form of altruism ruins the lives of the people we want to help and steals future dignity from them and their descendents.” (171)


“People can’t take responsibility for things in life that they don’t have authority over.  That just doesn’t work.”  “The converse is also true.  You can’t have authority over something unless you are also willing to take responsibility for it.” (176)


“If we let the status quo determine what we did with our lives, we would risk living lives of self-indulgence and insignificance.”  (182)


In a conversation with his Aunt Rachel before she died:  “Well, Aunt Rachel, why do you think God gave you this assignment?”  “Well, Stevie Boy, I loved the Lord Jesus with all my heart, and I trusted Him completely.”  She paused before continuing, “And I guess I just learned to persevere in whatever He gave me to do.” (184)


“Dependence was a major affliction for people groups all over the world in frontier areas.  I wondered who would help all those other people groups.  If someone believed he or she was capable of mastering the skills required to meet their own changing needs, maybe the quagmire of dependence could be avoided.  It is not easy to avoid dependence, but it is far easier to avoid it than to heal it once it has become systemic.” (236)


“Education is not the solution to all the world’s problems.”  “Much of the blame belonged to outsiders who think everyone has to be like us to do the things we do.  Why not change the way things are done to fit the culture and natural abilities of those needing to learn?” (236)


“But during my time in the jungle, I realized the absurdity of trying to prove my value or establish my identity with possessions or money in the bank.” (255)


“One of life’s greatest blessings for me is knowing what God wants me to do and then being able to give myself completely and unreservedly to it.” (2620


“One of the downsides of the ‘good life’ is the difficulty we have in continuing to appreciate it.”  “Everything just seemed too rich, too easy, and way too fast.” (267, 268)  “I realized that we were spending more for auto insurance than for our complete living expenses in the jungle. (270)


“The Quechuas, like the Waodani and Shuar and thousands of other people groups all over the world, were struggling to be taken seriously.  But they kept being told they just didn’t have what it takes.  That is a debilitating form of discrimination that pushes capable people into a unique kind of poverty: poverty of the soul.” (279)



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