Rachel Saint Reaches the Auca Indians in Ecuador

Rachel Saint was born in Pennsylvania on January 2, 1914.

As a young girl Rachel had a dream of dark skinned natives in green jungles. She worked for over a decade in outreach to alcoholics in New Jersey and then joined the Peru branch of the Summer Institute in Linguistics (SIL) in 1942. For the next decade she worked with several different remote tribal groups.

When Rachel made contact with a run-away Huarani woman named Dayuma she became convinced that she had found the native tribe the Lord had given her a vision for as a child.

As a skilled linguist working with Wycliffe Bible Translators, Rachel learned the Auca language and saw Dayuma converted. This remarkable convert later appeared as a guest on the platform of Billy Graham`s 1957 Madison Square Garden Crusade, New York.

The Huarani Indians (also written Waorani) were a warlike tribe, known for their ferocity, living in the Ecuador jungles near the Andes Mountains. They were so violent and murderous they were known by the title “Auca”, which means ‘savage’. The Christian world knows the tribe best as the Aucas.

It was Rachel’s interest in the Huarani Indians that prompted her younger brother, Nate Saint, to take interest in reaching the tribe and to fly over a remote Auca village many times over a four month period, dropping gifts to them, in preparation for the missionary visit.

When Rachel was 42, Nate Saint, piloted his Piper aircraft with four other missionaries aboard, onto a small beach in the Ecuadorian jungle. Their aim was to befriend and evangelise the Huarani Indians. On 8 January, 1956, the five daring missionaries were massacred on the beach where their plane had landed. News of this tragedy shocked Christendom. The five Brethren missionaries were speared to death. Their names are: Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Peter Fleming and Ed McCully.

Cameron Townsend, the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, organised a whirlwind USA tour for Rachel and Dayuma (the Huarani convert), including television interviews which stirred the hearts of the American nation. Rachel Saint became one of the best known American missionaries overnight.

By 1958 Rachel and Dayuma joined forces with two widows of the Auca massacre who were ready to carry on the ministry their husbands had commenced.

With the assistance of Gospel Recordings, another missionary organisation, Rachel Saint produced messages in the native tongue. This was followed by a friendly confrontation with these people who had killed her brother. Conversions took place as the Gospel was preached to them. Six of those who had taken part in the massacre were among the converts. One of them, Kimo, even became pastor of the church that was established and baptised Steve & Kathy Saint, Nate’s children.

Less than three years after the five missionaries had gone Through Gates of Splendour, Rachel Saint and Elisabeth Elliot (widow of Jim Elliot) had established permanent residence in a Huarani settlement, where they practised basic medicine and began the process of developing a written form of the language.

Rachel lived for two decades with the tribe and saw great fruit. She also translated the Gospel of Mark into the Huarani tongue.

Rachel Saint died on 11 November, 1994, in Quito, Ecuador at the age of 80… but her nephew Steve Saint continued to serve the Lord as his parents had done among native tribes in this same Ecuadorian jungle.

(References: Christianity Today, December, 1994; Evangel, March, 1996)

Note from Chris Field – Yet another member of the Saint family is working in South America, Evelyn Saint-Jimenez is working in Cordoba, Argentina and translated my book, Family Horizons, into Spanish for me.

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com