Died: Dayuma, First Convert from Tribe that Martyred 'Gates of Splendor' Missionaries
Dayuma, the indigenous Auca woman who helped Jim Elliot and Nate Saint begin their short-lived but legendary missionary work in Ecuador and later traveled the United States speaking on evangelism and reconciliation, died March 1.
Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint who was partly paralyzed in 2012 while developing technology for missionaries (including a flying car), highlighted the Spanish-language media coverage of Dayuma's death and Waodani reaction (as the Auca tribe is now called; also Waorani/Huaorani) on Facebook. He wrote:
"A beautiful daughter of Christ has joined Him in Heaven today. Dayuma was the first Waodani that reached out to her own people along with Aunt Rachel. She made God's story known to these people in a way only a Waodani could. Praise God for her life!
The story of Saint, Elliot, and companions Peter Fleming, Roger Youderian, and Ed McCully—most famously narrated in the book Through Gates of Splendor—is perhaps the most chronicled missionary account of the past 100 years, and remains an inspiration for many. (Wheaton College offers video tributes to the five men.)
Dayuma, who had her own Facebook page and Wikipedia entry, along with a stage production bearing her name, was born sometime in the 1930s and ran away from tribal violence as a young girl. She was befriended by Rachel Saint, Nate Saint's sister, and converted to Christianity. Dayuma helped the five missionary men begin to speak her language. After they were killed, she opened the way for Rachel and Jim Elliot's widow Elisabeth to make peaceful contact with her tribe. (Elisabeth Elliot is one of CT's 50 Women You Should Know.)
However, violence continues today with a reported massacre just last year, as the Waodani and other indigenous tribes face increasing tensions over Ecuador's oil wealth. Meanwhile, a new book by Mincaye, one of the Waodani men who killed the missionaries, tells the oral history of the tribe for the first time.Working alongside Rachel and Elisabeth, Dayuma taught the language and brought many of her family to Christianity (who 50 years later joined the "cutting edge of modern missions"). The tribe, among the most violent in the world by some measures, saw a 90 percent drop in homicides over the next 20 years.
Dayuma also toured the United States. Christians who met her shared photos and memories on Steve Saint's Facebook page.
CT often remembers the five missionaries, noting their place in the spread of evangelicalism and examining the reason they were killed. CT noted the stage production that told Dayuma's story and followed a crew of young people as they retraced the footsteps of the missionaries.