At the age of 19, Nate Saint signed up for the US Army with the goal of flying and eventually becoming a commercial pilot. WWII was underway, but Nate was “grounded” due to a recurring infection in his leg. He served in the Army for three years, and during this time became aware of the need for missionary aviators. Soon after, Nate committed his life to missionary work and transferred his skills to “God’s Army.” In 1948, he married his sweetheart, Marjorie Farris, and together they set out with MAF to open the base in Shell Mera, Ecuador. Their children—Kathy, Stephen and Phil—were born there.
Always one to dream up “gadgets,” Nate invented a number of devices that are still in use by missionary pilots today, such as the dual injection engine and the “bucket drop.” Ultimately, though, Nate was driven by his desire to reach the lost for Christ. Even the Aucas (now called Waoranis)—a tribe known for their unprovoked killing sprees—had a place in his heart. After a few successful air drops to deliver gifts to this tribe, Nate and four others (Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming and Roger Youderian) decided to attempt a face-to-face meeting. On January 8, 1956, they flew to an area near the Auca village and landed at Palm Beach. Despite some encouraging initial meetings, they were all martyred at that beach when the tribesmen attacked with spears a few days later. But evangelism to the Aucas did not stop because of this; in fact, it was hastened. Many in the village came to accept Christ, including six of the killing party.
MAF staff and the local believers and missionaries we work with are following in Nate Saint’s footsteps. Sign up here to get access to the current stories showing how this incredible legacy is continuing around the world.