Fifty years ago, Steve Saint was a 5-year-old missionary kid in Ecuador whose father, Nate, was one of five men trying to reach out to the native Waodani tribe, who were known as merciless killers—of each other, and of outsiders.
On Jan. 6, 1956, Nate and his buddies—Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully and Roger Youderian—made friendly contact with several of the Waodani. But two days later, six Waodani warriors speared all five men to death.
But that wasn't the end of the story. Steve's Aunt Rachel went on to live with the Waodani for years, leading many to Christ. Steve got to know them too, spending time with Rachel and Waodani, and even befriending Mincaye, the man who had killed his father. When Rachel died in 1994, Steve went to live with the Waodani for about 18 months, further deepening his relationships with a tribe once known as "naked savages."
It all adds up to an almost too-amazing-to-be-true story, and it's chronicled in the brand-new feature film, End of the Spear, opening nationwide on Friday. The movie is the brainchild of retail mogul Mart Green, who heard Steve Saint and Mincaye speak at a conference in 1999 and was so moved by the story that he decided to turn it into a film—two films, actually; the companion documentary, Beyond the Gates of Splendor, released last year. But first, Green had to get in touch with Saint to get the wheels in motion.
We recently talked to Saint about End of the Spear, for which he served as a consultant for the script.
Do you remember when Mart Green first contacted you?
Steve Saint: I remember the conversation because people have been wanting to make a movie out of this story since I was a boy, but Mart presented it differently. He asked if he could come ...1