In the past, I’ve written about Elisabeth Elliot and her husband Jim–how they met, fell in love, and ended up on the mission field in Ecuador. In 1956, Jim and four other missionaries gave their lives to reach the Auca, now called Waodani, people for Christ. The book Through Gates of Splendor tells the story of these brave men.
The book also inspired a documentary, Beyond the Gates of Splendor, which shows interviews with the Waodani and the widows and children of the martyred missionaries. One of those left behind, Nate Saint’s son Steve, then wrote a book called End of the Spear, in which he shared the Waodani side of the story—what motivated them to kill and what brought them to repentance and salvation after the deaths of the five young men. His book was made into a major motion picture of the same name.
The legacy of this story now continues in a documentary called The Grandfathers, featuring Steve’s son, Jesse Saint. In this documentary, Jesse tells the story of his time living with the Waodani tribe and how he built relationships with the men who speared his grandfather—men who are now believers desiring to follow the one true God. They played important roles in his life as he searched for his own purpose in Christ.
I’ve admired the families involved in this story for years and, during my younger days, wondered what it would be like to be one of them. I assumed my spiritual journey would have been easier had I shared their powerful legacy. Jesse’s story reminded me that God acts with perfect wisdom when He puts us into families and chooses the circumstances of our life journeys. As Psalm 139 says, “All the days ordained for [us] were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” It didn’t matter that Jesse Saint’s grandfather and father were famous men of God, he still had to find his own place in the world—apart from the burden of expectations their legacies created.
Here’s an excerpt from the promotional blurb about the movie: The Grandfathers is a motion-graphics documentary by writer/director Jim Hanon and producer Mart Green. It tells the journey of Jesse Saint. In the heart of the jungle, Jesse must confront his family’s past as he determines his own future. This documentary is a moving tribute to a young man’s quest for significance and purpose – and his remarkable impact on the three tribal elders who, unwittingly, are on a quest of their own.
You can find out more about the film at this website. It’s also available for purchase at Amazon.com.
This is a great film to use with a youth group or home school group. I’m reading the book Through Gates of Splendor with my junior high English class right now and plan to use this movie, along with End of the Spear, at the end of our unit.
This post also gives me a great opportunity to remind you about the Heroes of the Faith Book Club started by Julia at Dark Glass Ponderings. We’ll be discussing Through Gates of Splendor at Julia’s blog and here at Doorkeeper on April 30th. (I’ll be on a New York City day trip with my class, so my post will go up on the 29th.) You’ll find further details about the book club in this post.
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