Archives For Nate Saint

I’ve been re-reading Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot along with my junior high English class, and TGOS is also the May selection for Julia’s Heroes of the Faith Book Club at Dark Glass Ponderings.

This book tells the story of five young missionaries who accomplished what every Christian aspires to—they lived and died for Christ. However, their brief time on earth and the way God took them home have left an indelible impact on generations of Christians.

In 1956 Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian lost their lives in an attempt to bring the Gospel to the Woadani or Auca tribe of Ecuador. There is so much that could be said about these brave men and their wives. I’ve already posted about them several times at the links listed below. So today I’d like to focus on one lesson the book brought home to me.

Words Jim Elliot wrote while in college








The story of these five men reminds me how perfectly God matches a life path to each personality He creates. When I was young, it seemed like Christians who dedicated their lives to Christ were immediately forced to go to some faraway outpost or jungle setting where they had to give up civilized life in order to be holy. I feared that a life of service might mean the same for me and balked at the idea. Nate, Jim, Ed, Pete, Roger, and their wives are a good reminder of what I eventually learned about God’s leading in our lives. God’s purpose is uniquely suited to each of us. He wants us to be happy and fulfilled doing what He created us to do. Since God is the one who made us, who knows better what will please us?

He tells us this again and again. We just need to trust His Word . . .

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11~

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will [shape] the desires of your heart.” ~Psalm 37:4~

“For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” ~Psalm 139:13&16~

The missionaries in this book chose the jungle and enjoyed everyday life among the simple people there. They were pioneers at heart and loved rough, outdoor adventures. Even the actual film footage of their last days—when the five men were camping out on the beach—features them joking, laughing, singing.

And the photos and film of the men’s first meeting with the Auca people show how exuberant they were to have finally made contact.

Reenactment from End of the Spear

The guys did not consider their lives to be filled with sacrifice. In the jungles of Ecuador, they felt they were fulfilling their purpose. 

Quote from Journals of Jim Elliot








Through Gates of Splendor not only relates the details of the men’s jungle adventures, it also shares excerpts from the letters and diaries that reveal their hearts. As I read their hopes, dreams, doubts, and fears in their own words, I realized they were exactly where they wanted to be doing exactly what they’d dreamed of doing.

Each of the guys had been raised in homes that taught their children how to have personal relationships with Jesus Christ. Their parents read and discussed Scripture with them, brought them to church, showed by example how to live for Christ each day, and encouraged their children to discover God’s purpose for themselves. Most of the men and women involved in this story had felt God calling them to be missionaries since they were very young. So the Lord had been getting them ready to go to the Aucas for their entire lives.

What’s your purpose? How has God worked in your life to bring you this far? Have you ever felt God making an adjustment in your life when you’ve gotten off track? Feel free to share!

For more readings about the folks from this story, follow the links below:

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

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.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a happy day!