Thursday, February 01, 2007

End of the Spear

I have just finished reading End of the Spear by Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint, one of the five men killed in Ecuador in 1956 by the people they were trying to reach with the Gospel. In 1958, Steve Saint's aunt went to live with the tribe responsible for her brother's death, the Waodani, and since then, many of them have become Christians. Steve himself spent much of his childhood with the Waodani and has come to view them very much as family. When his aunt died in 1994, the Waodani asked him to bring his family from the USA to live with them in the Ecuadorian jungle, to help them adjust to the modern world around them without losing their own identity in the process.

This is a fascinating account of the time Steve Saint and his family spent in Ecuador and the aftermath. It is very easy to read but also extremely challenging. Although you might imagine it would not have much to say about biblical womanhood, one of the aspects of the book that did challenge me in this area was Steve Saint's wife, Ginny. She had to leave her comfortable home in Florida to live for 18 months in a house which lacked proper walls and the most basic of facilities:
The Waodani women loved to sit and watch Ginny prepare food in her "modern kitchen". They cooked over open fires, but Ginny had a four-burner camp stove. Ginny also had a sink cut into two chainsawed boards, although she had to carry her water up from the creek behind the house in a bucket. Then she would carry the dirty water outside to dump it.

How would I cope if God wanted my lifestyle to change this dramatically? Although Ginny Saint initially struggled with the thought of living in the jungle, her husband relates how she embraced the challenge and supported him wholeheartedly in his endeavours.

Another aspect of the book which will stay with me is its focus on God's sovereignty in the midst of human tragedy and suffering. In one of the early chapters, Steve relates how he discovered the circumstances behind his father's death, nearly forty years later, after the death of his aunt. As he relates the events that led up to the fatal spearings in 1956, he writes:
There are too many factors that all had to work together to have allowed the events to happen as they did. Too many for me to believe it was just chance. I have come to the conclusion that God did not look away. He did not simply allow this to happen. I think He planned it. Though this has not been an easy conclusion to come to, I believe it is the right one. I have personally paid a high price for what happened on Palm Beach. But I have also had a front-row seat as the rest of the story has been unfolding for half a century. I have seen firsthand that much good has come from it. I believe only God could have fashioned such an incredible story from such a tragic event.

You can find out more about Steve Saint's continuing work here and buy the book here.

5 comments:

Mrs. "M" said...

I remember reading through the Gates of Splendor by E. Elliot. I have Jim Elliots Journals too. I was very much affected by both. I am definately going to put this book on my "to read" list.

This says it all:

"But I have also had a front-row seat as the rest of the story has been unfolding for half a century. I have seen firsthand that much good has come from it. I believe only God could have fashioned such an incredible story from such a tragic event."

Sandi

Leslie said...

Wow, that sounds like it is a very interesting book. I saw the movie a few months ago, and enjoyed it. Stever Saint also wrote a chapter for Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. It is excellent!

Catriona said...

You can listen to the talk Steve Saint gave at the Desiring God conference in 2005 here.
The rest of the talks at this conference are also excellent. We are currently watching the DVDs at our church Mum and toddlers group.

Carrie said...

(I followed your link through Semicolon.)

I read this book last year, shortly after the movie came out. This is probably the only missionary story that has had me in tears by the end of it. The Saint family has given up so much -- rather happily on the whole.

Good review! Thanks for posting.

Beth said...

I was blessed to hear Steve Saint speak at the Desiring God conference in 2005. I don't think there was a dry eye in the auditorium when he finished. What a powerful testimony to God's sovereign hand in the midst of tragedy. Thanks for posting on the book.