Steve Saint

  • Jan. 2, 2013
  • #8003

If you’ve ever seen the film, The End of the Spear, you may be familiar with the story of Steve Saint. There is so much to this remarkable missionary and businessman; click here to listen to his story.

Steve Saint

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with the remarkable story of Steve Saint.

Steve was born in a mission hospital in 1951 to Nate and Marj Saint who lived in Quito, Ecuador. His family lived in that country because his father was a missionary pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship. In 1956, in an effort to make peaceful contact with the Waodani Indians, Nate Saint and four other missionaries, including Jim Elliot, were killed. They were speared to death, and their bodies left on a sand bank in a river. It was a story that drew international attention back in 1956 — and you can read more about it in the classic book by Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor.

But, let me get back to Steve’s story. After the death of his father, the family moved to Quito, Ecuador where young Steve attended school. It was during this time that his aunt, Rachel Saint, and Elisabeth Elliot were trying to make peaceful contact with the very Indians who killed their brother and husband. Five years later, after much prayer and effort, Elisabeth and Rachel were able to successfully reach out to the Waodani Indians. In fact, the two women missionaries even lived with them in the jungle. At 10 years of age, Steve Saint went to live with the Waodani, staying with them during the summers. As a young boy, he learned about living in the jungle, and also developed friendships with many members of the tribe. Then, in June of 1965 —“Babae,” as he was called by the tribe — Steve Saint was baptized in Christ in the very river by two of his father's killers who had also since opened their hearts to Christ.  

After graduating from high school in Quito, Steve Saint moved to America where he attended Wheaton College. And soon after graduation, he returned to Ecuador and worked for a time as a tour guide. It was there that he met and married his wife Ginny who was visiting Ecuador on a short-term mission team. Shortly after the birth of their first child, the Saints returned to the United States and lived in Minnesota where Steve Saint began a successful career as a businessman.  

Then, in 1994, his Aunt Rachel died in Ecuador after spending 36 years with the Waodani. Steve immediately traveled back to Ecuador to bury her. And it was then that the Waodani tribe who had known Steve as a child… they asked him to move his family down to live with them! After thinking the decision over with his family, he accepted the tribe's invitation, and he moved to the jungle in 1995. Steve Saint worked closely with the Waodani to improve their living conditions. And he helped build a community center and develop a desperately needed economy. 

Steve Saint left Ecuador in 1996, feeling that his continued presence with the tribe would hinder their progress towards self-dependency. He has, however, continued to work with the tribe. During one trip, he was helping a group of Waodani Indians put together their own airplane. A group of Quechua Indians approached him and asked why they could not build an airplane for their tribe. That’s when Steve Saint realized the need for a global effort aimed at teaching practical skills to indigenous people. So, shortly afterward he founded the Indigenous Peoples Technology and Education Center, Inc. called I-TEC. Steve has been hard at work on I-TEC projects for many years now. And, in fact, it was during the development of one of those projects that he suffered a terrible accident — he became a quadriplegic … a broken neck landed him flat on his back in a hospital. Steve himself will be with us tomorrow to tell us about that. So, please join us next time for more on the remarkable story of my friend, Steve Saint.

© Joni and Friends


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