For the final 3 years before I left Gracechurch to move to Swansea we ran a yearly camp for the men and boys in the church called Band of Brothers. During that camp I would take the opportunity to teach about a brother who made history.
Nate Saint is one such man. He with his four friends were murdered on the 8 January 1956. Today is the anniversary of his death.
These men had determined that God had called them to share the news of His Son to the Waodini Tribe in the Amazon Rain Forest. This tribe had a proven reputation of murder using the spear. In fact most of the tribe had a relative that had been likewise killed. It was a risky and dangerous calling.
On the 6 January 1956 after several weeks work they made direct contact with three of the tribe, and were particularly excited two days later when they saw a group of them heading their way. The men’s wives were expecting a radio update at 4.30pm and it never came. The radio was silent.
A few days later a search party was dispatched. They found the bodies of Nate and his friends, and their plane destroyed. They had been speared.
End of the story. Wasted lives? No.
Their deaths opened two doors. The first door was that when the story hit the news in 1956, it compelled many thousands of men and women to lay down half-hearted lives for Christ, choosing rather to live for Him with everything they had.
The second door was that within a few years some of the men’s wives and their children were living with the tribe, and many of the tribe came to put their faith in Christ. Indeed Nate’s son, Stephen, would later call one of his father’s murderers Grandfather.
Here is the video I used on Band of Brothers to share the story. It has clips from the film End of the Spear. In the story you will see a dramatised encounter of ‘Grandfather’ telling Stephen Saint that he killed his father.
Nate Saint knew the one who had been pierced by men (Isaiah 53), and with his life he led others to lay down murder with a spear for good.
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16
Nate Saint Tribute from The Hill on Vimeo.
NB: You can read the story as told by one of the wives in the book Through the Gates of Splendour