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

William Townsend Births Wycliffe

This is the day that …William Cameron Townsend was born into a Presbyterian family in California, in 1896.

In 1917, after joining the Student Volunteer Movement in his teens, he was selling Spanish Bibles in Guatemala. But 2000 Cakchiquel Indians had no use for the Bible in Spanish, a language they could not understand. He was confronted by the question: “If your God is so smart, why hasn’t He learned our language?” That did it! For the next 13 years Cameron Townsend devoted his life to mastering the Cakchiquel language and translating the Scriptures for them to read.

It was 1929 when he completed the New Testament, by which time he had caught the vision that became “the world’s largest independent Protestant missionary organisation (From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, by Ruth Tucker, page 353), to assist missionaries in the task of learning a foreign language, reducing that language to writing, and translating the Scriptures into it.

In 1934 he founded Camp Wycliffe in Arkansas for that very purpose – now known as Wycliffe Bible Translators/Summer Institute of Linguistics.

By the end of the twentieth century a mighty missionary force about 5000 strong was busily engaged in translating God’s Word into hundreds of languages and dialects, dedicated to the task of reaching the thousands of tribes who still had no Bible in their own language.

Billy Graham described him as “the greatest missionary of our time” (ibid, page 351).

It is to be confessed that “Uncle Cam” never quite fitted in to the evangelical framework of the majority of his workers, or supporters. Involving his translators in “government-sponsored social programs”, his defence of socialism in Mexico and his co-operation with Roman Catholics, have all caused controversy for Wycliffe Bible Translators over the years (see ibid, pages 353-354).

But none can argue with his conviction that “the greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue.” And thousands of dedicated evangelical missionaries are doing what they can to bring the gospel to every nation, in their mother tongue.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.