During its time the whole world knew the story. Elisabeth Elliot wrote of her experiences in the amazing novel "Through the Gates of Splendor". Steve wrote his story in his novel titled "The End of the Spear". In 2005 a film adaptation of Mr. Saint's story was released under the same name (definite recommendation as a MUST SEE). I remember the first time my mom asked me to go see the film with her. Being a foolish 14 year old I had no interest in it at all... little did I know how powerfully God would use Mr. Saint's story... and Mr. Saint himself... to impact my life.
Two years later, in 2007 I met Steve Saint for the first time at mission’s aviation fest in Pennsylvania. I heard him speak once having little to no knowledge of his testimony and was completely captivated by his faith, trust, courage, and ability for forgiveness. See one of the most amazing parts of Mr. Saint's story is that after his father was murdered, he went spent much of his childhood among the Woadani tribe. Mincaye, one of men who had been a part of the spearing party that had killed his father, became like a second father to Mr. Saint. Mincaye also became a grandfather to Mr. Saint's own children when he as an adult along with his wife, two sons, and daughter moved to Ecuador to live long term with the Woadani.
There are so many aspects of this story that I could talk about how it impacted my life. I encourage you all to read more about this story... But I want to talk about the personal relationship I have grown to have with Mr. Saint over the years. My after a few meetings in 2007, 2008, and 2009 in 2010, after I had gotten to know Mr. Saint a lot more, I told him about the many ways his story had touched my life. I actually wrote down the conversation we had. I said, "Mr. Saint, thank you for your testimony and for choosing to commit your life to Christ. It's really inspiring." I'll never forget when he said to me, "Well, Sarah, I know that God has an amazing testimony for your life as well. It's not about publishing a book. It's about listening and obeying. It's not enough just to listen, but you have to hear what God is saying and obey anything he asks. God has great things in store for you." Those words of encouragement have never left me. To know that my hero, someone I look up to and respect believes in me and sees God's hand in my life... well that is an indescribable blessing.
It was not the first time Mr. Saint had blessed me with his words. In 2008 when I met Mr. Saint for the second time (pictured above), I, like a silly teenage fan girl told him, "Last year you signed my book and I was in heaven." Mr. Saint laughed and said, "How about this year I give you a hug?" He then proceeded to give me a big, warm bear hug. "Thanks," I replied laughing. He then said to me, "Thank YOU. I haven't had a hug from a teenage girl since my daughter. That was nice." At that moment, I felt the biggest lump I'd ever felt in my life forming my throat. I honestly can't tell this story without tearing up. I'm crying even now as I write it. You see, as if the Saint's hadn't experienced enough pain and loss in their lives, Mr. Saint's daughter Stephanie died in 2000 from cerebral brain hemorrhage after returning from a yearlong missions trip. I knew this about Stephanie from reading The End of the Spear, so when Mr. Saint told me this in 2008 I had a strong reaction... My mother and I stayed and talked with Mr. Saint some more before returning to our van. I remember getting to the van and just beginning to sob. My mom was like, "Sarah? You just got to talk to Mr. Saint? He even gave you a hug! What's wrong?" I explained to her what Mr. Saint had told me, I told her about his daughter, and how he had thanked me for the hug... I can't explain what it is like to know you blessed someone who has experienced as much as Mr. Saint. For him to thank me, when I have learned so much about forgiveness and trusting God IN ALL THINGS from him, is just incredible. It was a simple hug meant to be fun for me, but he thanked me for it. What an honor from the Lord... I will never forget that day and how I learned the importance of never underestimating how God may use you in someone’s life.
Mr. Saint said in one of his speeches once, that he relates his father's death to the words of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia. After he is raised back to life, Aslan tells the Pevensie children, “If a willing Victim that has committed no treachery is killed in a traitor’s stead, the Stone Table will crack; and even death itself [will] turn backwards.” In the tragic deaths of those missionaries, hundreds of Woadani were given life both physically and more importantly, eternal spiritual life through Jesus Christ.
(To be continued...)
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20)