Nate Saint: Operation Auca by Nancy Drummond
The story of Nate Saint is remarkable one for anyone interested in knowing what it looks like for a man to follow Christ, to use his gifts, and to love his fellow man regardless of what they can do for him. Nancy Drummond has written an accessible mini-biography of Saint’s life for children ages 7 and up to dive into. The chapters are written succinctly in roughly 6-8 page chunks. The story brings together Nate’s passion for flying, his desire for the Waodani people to know Christ, and his ingenuity in creating the right repair parts for planes that were utterly demolished.
The story begins with Nate having an ever-growing passion for flying. Even at an early age after sitting in the cockpit of a plane, Nate exclaimed, “It’s the greatest feeling in the world!” (9) Nate grew up in a family that regularly worshipped the Lord, met in prayer meetings and were constantly gracing the doors of the church. The soil in which he was raised was fertile for the ministry that would come in his later years in Ecuador. Yet, what was also evident in his early years was the way he looked up to his big brother Sam, a pilot. From very early on, Nate was always tinkering with planes, their parts and the ways in which he could construct planes from scratch as models. Little did he know that his gifts for working on planes would be mightily used in the mission of Operation Auca.
After his conversion at age 13, Nate developed a bone infection that was cause him great grief for a large part of his life. Through the prayers and encouragement of his family, he was able get better after a while. Nate, after spending some time in the Army began to pray for the Lord’s leading for what was next in his life. At the right time, his dad led him to an article about a new ministry called the Christian Airmen’s Missionary Fellowship which was ‘to use planes and pilots to service missionaries in remote areas, bringing news and supplies and offering necessary transport (31). Through various trials and hardships, Nate was eventually deployed to help in the remote areas of Ecuador. At one point, Nate’s heart was stoked because of his meeting with a visiting missionary who had heard about an Indian tribe, the Aucas who were known for their savagery and willingness to kill anyone who meets them (68).
Through Nate’s effort alongside his team, they were able to drop all kinds of supplies, including shiny things in the area of the Auca people and forged what they thought was a initial relationship. The story ends tragically but Drummond tells Nate’s story with a sensitivity that cannot be matched. A few of the things that Drummond brought out in the story that were very encouraging: One, God was preparing Nate at every step of the way for his time in Ecuador. His desire and passion for repairing and building planes was extremely valuable for the team. Therefore, God was faithful to equip Nate for ministry at every point. Secondly, this story encapsulates the vision of Nate that he had for the Auca people and his commitment to love a people who would eventually do them harm. There is something resolutely powerful when a man loves the Lord in such a way that he would lay down his life for a people he met once and were hostile to him. Lastly, the way Nate loved his family and kept them involved in every aspect of the mission is evident in the way his son Steve has been an instrumental part of helping the Waodani people.
What a great book at introducing readers to the life, faith, and mission of Steve Saint. Younger readers will find much to be encouraged about here. Older readers, I included, were encouraged at the faithfulness of Nate, even to the point of death.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and Christian Focus Publications (CF4K) for the review copy of this book in exchange for review.