Pilot Nate Saint, Ecuador Missionaries, Martyred 60 Years Ago

saintsLast week, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) noted it was exactly 60 years ago on January 8, 1956, that Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming and Roger Youderian were killed by the Waoranis (Auca), an unreached native people the group had been hoping to evangelize. Saint had flown the group out in his PA-13 and landed on a riverbank.

The story made international news, including a 10-page story in LIFE Magazine entitled “Go Ye and Preach the Gospel – Five Do and Die.” The US Air Force deployed a rescue helicopter from Panama, flown by Maj Malcolm Nurnberg. Saint’s story became the book Jungle Pilot, originally published in 1959, which has inspired generations to enter the field of both evangelism and missionary aviation.

Elliot’s widow, Elisabeth Elliot, famous and well-respected in her own right, died just last year, as did Dayuma in 2014, one of the original members of the tribe. Elliot wrote about the mission to Ecuador in Through Gates of Splendor, which was the subject of a 2005 documentary (Beyond the Gates of Splendor) and 2006 movie (End of the Spear).