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    Faith | 4 min read

    Missionary Mindset: Nate Saint

    The Missionary Mindset series looks into the lives of notable missionaries to provide valuable insights and inspiration. Read the last post in the Missionary Mindset series here.

    God uses the smallest details, like the interests and abilities of one man, to bring about extraordinary changes in the lives of many. That’s the story of Nate Saint—a man who soared to great heights to share the gospel in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.

    Nate’s Background

    Nate Saint was born to Lawrence and Katherine Saint in 1923. The Saint family was one of faithful Christians who were deeply devoted to living in complete surrender to Jesus Christ. Because of this, Nate grew up with a firm foundation of faith and a lasting conviction to serve the Lord.

    When Nate was just seven years old, he took his very first flight in his brother’s airplane. A spirit of adventure was instantly instilled in Nate, and he knew just what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to fly like his brother. Little did Nate know how the Lord would later use his love for flying.

    At 19 years old, Nate joined the armed services to pursue Air Corps training. He desired to serve his country through aviation, and the talent to do so. Though his time in the army took him all over the United States and even across the globe, Nate was never one to lose his spiritual grounding. It was the call of Christ that gave Nate a sense of purpose.

    However, that purpose was questioned as Nate faced an unexpected trial. While training with the Air Corps, a recurring infection Nate had dealt with in the past came back once again. This infection was quickly diagnosed, and Nate was dismissed from the Air Corps … crushing his dreams of becoming a fighter pilot.

    It was in this time of hopelessness that the Lord began revealing a much bigger purpose for Nate’s life.

    With more time on his hands, Nate directed his energy towards airplane mechanics. Nate discovered that this skill came naturally to him as he learned to fix airplanes in difficult—if not impossible—circumstances.

    Nate’s Legacy

    After marrying his sweetheart, Marjorie Farris, the Lord began opening doors for Nate. Instead of serving just the United States, Nate was presented with the opportunity to serve the nations by becoming a full-time missionary pilot. Without second thought, he committed to this position. Nate and his wife packed up their lives to halfway across the globe to Ecuador.

    The work there was plenty and Nate was equipped and ready to help fly missionaries to various destinations in the jungle and deliver supplies and resources to missionary families.

    However, in 1948, Nate set off to make another one of his deliveries. Just minutes after a perfect takeoff, Nate knew something was amiss. His plane began to rapidly descend, and crashed in Quito, Ecuador. Even after months spent in the hospital and bed-ridden at home, Nate’s desire to reach the lost for Christ kept him going.

    He returned to his work as a pilot more confident than ever.

    In his faithful and fearless service, Nate helped pioneer missions in hard to reach areas, namely the thick of the jungle. What would take 40 days of land travel, Nate could accomplish within in a matter of hours. This inspired Nate to invent more effective ways delivering supplies and reaching the lost. Among these inventions was the famous “bucket dropping system,” that missionary pilots still use to this day.

    This very system was the backbone to “Operation Auca.”

    While flying one day, Nate noticed a village he had never before seen. This village was home to the Indian tribe known as the Aucas—a tribe characterized by their violent killing patterns. Despite the prevalent dangers, Nate, along with four others—Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, and Roger Youderian—set out to bring the good news of Jesus to the unreached.

    For months, these five men flew over the village and lowered gifts to the Auca Indians as a sign of friendly contact. As the gifts were well received by the tribe, the men began preparation for face-to-face contact.

    On January 8, 1956, Nate flew with the four others to Palm Beach—an area near the Auca village. Despite hopeful initial meetings, all five men were martyred on the beach.

    Thankfully, the story does end there. Rachel Saint—Nate’s sister—as well as Elisabeth Elliot—Jim’s wife—continued their loved ones’ mission work. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, these women were able to bring the good news of Christ to the Auca tribe. Many in the tribe were saved, including six of the killing party.  

    More Inspiration from Nate

    • “When life's flight is over, and we unload our cargo at the other end, the fellow who got rid of unnecessary weight will have the most valuable cargo to present the Lord.”
    • “If God would grant us the vision, the word sacrifice would disappear from our lips and thoughts; we would hate the things that seem now so dear to us; our lives would suddenly be too short, we would despise time-robbing distractions and charge the enemy with all our energies in the name of Christ. May God help us ourselves by the eternities that separate the Aucas from a Comprehension of Christmas and Him, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor so that we might, through his poverty, be made rich.”
    • “And people who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives... and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”

    Read the next Missionary Mindset here.

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