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My Father’s Will

with Mart Green, Steve Saint | January 6, 2006

On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Mart Green and Steve Saint about the making of the movie, The End of the Spear. Mart, the founder of Bearing Fruit Communications, tells how they made Steve's father, Nate Saint's, life and missionary work into a full-length feature film. Mincaye, one of the Auca's who killed Nate Saint, also joins them.

On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Mart Green and Steve Saint about the making of the movie, The End of the Spear. Mart, the founder of Bearing Fruit Communications, tells how they made Steve's father, Nate Saint's, life and missionary work into a full-length feature film. Mincaye, one of the Auca's who killed Nate Saint, also joins them.

My Father’s Will

With Mart Green, Steve Saint
|
January 06, 2006
| Download Transcript PDF

Steve: When he said, "We want your permission," I said, "Well, what is the story you want to tell," and when he told me that he wanted to tell this story, that millions of people have read, over the years, he said, "But I want to tell it from the Waodani perspective."  And I said, "Well, it seems to me that you should ask the Waodani," and so Mart said, "How could we ask them?"  I said, "Well, I'll take you down there.  I'll lead you to them, and I'll translate for you."  And I thought, "That will be the end of this."  And Mart got on his cell phone and some of the guys on his team, and they said, "Okay, we've cleared our calendars."

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, January 6th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We will meet today the Waodani warrior who said yes to the making of the movie of the story of the five martyred American missionaries.  Stay with us.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  It was 50 years ago this Sunday that five young American missionaries were martyred on the banks of the Curaray River in Ecuador.  Their deaths became a national news story here in the United States.  It was in "Life" magazine back in January of 1956, and here in the next couple of weeks there is a major motion picture that is being released that tells the story of those American missionaries and, Dennis, I think God is going to use that movie in a powerful way.

Dennis: I do, too.  The movie is called "The End of the Spear," and it tells the story of these five martyrs and their widows, and it's not just a story at a point in time.  The story continues on to this day, and the son of one of those who gave up his life there, Nate Saint, his son, Steve, joins us on FamilyLife Today.  Steve, welcome.

Steve: Hi, Dennis, Bob, nice to be here.

Dennis: Also, the one who had the vision for this film, Mart Green, founder and CEO of Bearing Fruit Communication out of Oklahoma City, joins us again.  Mart, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.

Mart: Thank you, Dennis.

Dennis: And our first-ever warrior from the Waodani tribe, Mincaye joins us.  And all these names are a challenge, but tell him he's been welcomed to our broadcast and that there's a couple of million people listening to him right now.

Steve: [speaks Waodani to Mincaye]

Mincaye: [responds in Waodani]

Steve: He's wanting to know how he came here.

Mincaye: [speaking Waodani]

Steve: He says, "Before I came here, I had to go teach some of my people how to walk God's trail, so I was way off in another part of the jungles, a long ways away, and I had to come all the way back so that I could start coming all the way back up here," and now he's going to want to tell you all that he had to go through to get here.  He's counting on his fingers how many days – six days it took him to get here.

 He said, "I had to go and get on the auto thing" – the bus – "to come all around our territory.  Then I had to go on a canoe with a motor and – it is a long way.

Mart: It's a long way.

Bob: Tell him we're happy he has made the journey.

Steve:  [speaks to Mincaye in Waodani]

Dennis: I want to ask you, because earlier this week Bob and I had the privilege of being at the premier showing of the movie.  If he can tell us without taking us all the way back to Ecuador, ask Mincaye what he thought about the movie as, I suppose, was this the first movie he's ever seen in his whole life, too?

Steve: Well, he's seen videos.  He's never seen this film before.  [speaks to Mincaye in Waodani].

Mincaye: [responds in Waodani]

Steve: "Wa" is the word for good.  He said, "I saw it very well."

Mincaye: [speaks in Waodani]

Steve: [translating] I said, "Look at that thing.  Oooh, is that supposed to be me?"

Bob: Did it bring a lot of memories for him, do you think?

Steve: In the tribe, they have an oral tradition.  Mincaye doesn't read and write, so the time that we spend reading and writing and making notes, they lock it into their memory.  Those memories have been alive for Mincaye since 1956.

Bob: And you were pictured in the movie as about a 7- or 8-year-old boy, is that accurate?

Steve: Well, there, all the way up to 45, I guess.

Bob: That's true, yeah, we show, from your childhood.

Steve: Cute and young to old and scruffy.

Bob: And we saw you with your aunt and with Aunt Betty, Elisabeth Elliott, going back into the jungle as a young boy.  There had to be fear in the heart of a young boy to think, "We're going back in here.  These men killed my father."

Steve: Well, actually, not.  Mart said "adventure."  It was an adventure.  We had been praying as a family – my mom and dad prayed for these people, so I knew these people were special somehow.  We were praying for them, then they killed my father, but my mom and Aunt Mary Lou and Aunt Barb and Aunt Betty and Aunt Olive, they didn't act like, "Oh, this is a terrible, terrible calamity."  Now, I could tell they were sad, but so I thought, "Oh, these people are still special to us."  And Aunt Rachel was living with Dayuma [ph], and Dayuma is from this tribe, and Dayuma was special, and, no, so I just – when the chance came to go in and meet them, when Aunt Rachel felt that the time had come that a male child related to my dad could come in without being killed – because I was a terrible threat to the tribe, because in their culture, they would have expected that when I grew up, I would have the right and the responsibility to avenge my father's death.  When Aunt Rachel finally thought, after about a year that she'd been in there, they really understand that we walk a different trail and that we won't avenge, then she invited me to go in.  I just couldn't wait.  These people are so special to me, I expected them to come gather around me to see who I was, and that surprised me, because they didn't.  They stood off and looked at me.  I felt really self-conscious.

Dennis: Were they afraid of you, do you think?

Steve: No, they didn't know what I was.  I was as tall as some of the shorter adults at nine, or not much shorter than they were.  But I didn't have any physical features of a man or a woman, and they didn't know what I was.  And I had these strange things growing out of my head.  They thought my glasses were actually part of my face, which is pretty scary to some of the kids.

Bob: In 1999, when you and Mart had made contact about the possibility of doing this movie, you felt it was essential to get the okay of the tribe.  Now, I'm not sure that was a legal requirement.  In other words, I don't think they'd have come back and sued you for making the movie, but you felt it was necessary for the continuing work, for the integrity of the project, and you went in and asked for permission, right?

Steve: Well, Bob, people have been talking about making this story into a movie since I was a boy, but I knew that it was a big job.  I didn't have any idea how big a job it was to do it, and …

Dennis: Mart is shaking his head over here.

Steve: We all agree.

Bob: He didn't have any idea how big …

Mart: Neither one of us knew what he was getting into.

Steve: It took huge creativity, a big team of people with specific talents and abilities, it took financial resources, but what Mart came asking me for was permission to do my story and for seven years I've been saying, "This is not my story.  I didn't write it.  I had a front-row seat, and I had a repetitive part in it," but when he said, "We want your permission," I said, "Well, what is the story you want to tell," and when he told me that he wanted to tell this story, that millions of people have read of over the years, he said, "But I want to tell it from the Waodani perspective."  And I said, "Well, it seems to me that you should ask the Waodani," and, really, I wanted in a nice way to say no, and so Mart said, instead of saying, "Oh, we couldn't.  I'm busy, can't do that."  He said, "How could we ask them?"  I said, "Well, I'll take you down there.  I'll lead you to them, and I'll translate for you."  And I thought, "That will be the end of this."  And Mart got on his cell phone and some of the guys on his team, and they said, "Okay, we've cleared our calendars.  When do we go?"

Dennis: It took Mincaye six days to get here, I'll bet it took you a while, Mart, to get down there.  How much travel did it entail?

Mart: We flew from here down to Quito and then Steve put us on a bus for several hours.

Steve: I took in the bus; I went with you.

Mart: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all went together, and then we got on a bush plane for an hour, and then he stuck a backpack on us for six or seven hours, and then we got in a dugout canoe for four or five hours in the rain, and then we went to a hut that had 22 hammocks, and we checked into the Waodani Hotel.  And it took us a couple, three days to get down there.

Bob: And describe for us the meeting as you and Mart were together with the tribe, and you translated.

Steve: Well, first, we were just – we got there late in the afternoon, everybody was tired, everybody went to sleep, nobody knew how to sleep in a hammock, they didn't know where to get food.  The next day we got together, and I said, "Inyana [ph] people, my group," this is my extended family in the tribe that we were meeting with, and I said, "These people want to make a video of your history.  What do you say?"  And several of them smacked "Bah, we say no." 

I thought, okay, we've come all that what Mart was just describing – all the way out here, and they say, "No."  And I said people – they said, "How do you see it?"  I said, "I see it – well, if you say no, I, too, say no.  But well, if you would say yes, I, too, would say yes."  And they said, "Why?" and I said, "Well, people, do you know that foreigners, too, live angry and hating and furious," and I began to tell them what had happened at Columbine and at a couple of other schools, and when I described what happened at Columbine, Mincaye said, "That's just how we used to live – hating and being furious, killing for no reason at all."  And he said, "I say yes.  If those foreigners are living like we used to, then maybe if they see that we lived that way, and then they see look how we live now, happily and in peace, maybe they, too, can learn how to live in peace." 

And then I thought, "Well, now, wait a minute, the no was maybe a little bit premature but maybe this yes hasn't been completely thought through.  So I said, "People if they tell your history, they are going to show you like Aucas, like the people said that you were – naked, living like savages out here in the jungle."  And Mincaye's wife, Ompoteh [ph], she said, "Bah" – and she whipped off her blouse, and she tore off her skirt, and she's just sitting there, almost naked, in the middle of the group.  The whole group is trying to pretend like they didn't notice what was going on.  She said, "I say if they have to show us like we lived," – now, she didn't mean naked, she said, "living hating and furious," but the nakedness was part of that culture, she said, then I say, "Just tell them to show us like we were."

Dennis: Mart, I have to ask you at that point what did you think?

Mart: Well, it was exciting to know for the story – it was exciting to know that they understood and that they saw as a mission field in North America that their story, the power of a story, could help North America and they could give back to North America was just overwhelming at that point.

Dennis: The irony is amazing, isn't it?

Mart: It's amazing.  It's their turn to come back and help us now.

Dennis: And so, Steve, they went ahead and signed off on it?

Steve: Well, they didn't sign off on it.  If you noticed, Mincaye yesterday autographing stuff.  He doesn't write, so he puts his thumb on an inkpad and gives a thumbprint so they may be printed off on it instead of signed off on it.

Mart: They said yes.

Steve: We say yes, and then they asked me – I said, "Well, there's details here that you all don't know how to deal with.  They said, "Bavay, we saying yes, you be the one to talk to them."  So not for the whole tribe but for the clan that I'm part of, the people that killed my dad that were part of this story, they said, "We say yes, and you talk to them about it."

Dennis: Will there be a showing for them of this film?

Mart: We took the documentary down there and showed it to them in the jungle, and then we hope to do a premier in Panama.  The movie was shot in Panama, so we hope to bring some of the Waodani up to Panama so they'll get to see the film there.

Steve: They actually – Mart and team – actually showed the premier of the docudrama was done down in the jungles.  The Waodani were the first ones with surround sound, speakers hung in the trees, the big screen leaned up against the long house.

Dennis: Way to go, Mart.  That's the way to do it.

Bob: Did you have to take a generator?

Mart: I think it stopped eight or nine times, you know, the generators, you know, we were so disappointed but only because the document had them in it, so it was more powerful for them than the movie, because they have actors in that.

Steve: Well, and they could understand a lot of the dialog.

Bob: And speaking of that, the movie is in subtitles.  Is the language accurate?  Could Mincaye watch last night and understand the language?

Steve: No.  It was authentic language, but the film couldn't be shot in Ecuador because the infrastructure was lacking.  There was no place for the actors and crew and grips and all those people to stay out in the jungles, so it was shot in Panama in an area of jungle that the U.S. military used to use to train U.S. soldiers for jungle warfare.  They had a big hospital.  That hospital has been turned into a beautiful hotel, but you walk out of the hotel and, what, Mart, a quarter of a mile, and you're in jungle.

 And so because it was going to be shot in Panama, they chose a tribe of Indians in Panama, the Embera, to play the Waodani.  And these people had a very similar background, but the people today, the Embera, are about three generations removed from living as hunter/gatherers, so to make it authentic the film team asked me to bring a delegation of Waodani up from Ecuador to teach the Embera how to be Waodani.  And that was a fascinating process.  These people realized these Waodani live like our ancestors, now they're going to teach us, and it was just like, guys, we are going to school.  They're going to teach us who we used to be, and they were fascinated by it, and they did an absolutely excellent job of portraying the Waodani.

Dennis: I have to agree with you.  Again, I don't know the tribe you're speaking of and how they behaved, but both Bob and I turned to teach other and said, "How did they train that tribe to be able to act?"  I mean, because they became actors, actresses.

Steve: You know what I think it was, I was there telling the Embera the story, and they kept asking me, "What happened here and what happened here?"  And it wasn't so much, I don't think, that they learned to act.  They understood the story, and so they got into the story, and so when the story called for fury, they were furious.

Bob: Well, and it's interesting, too, to compare how they present the story in the movie that folks are going to get a chance to see in theaters in a couple of weeks, with the documentary, "Beyond the Gates of Splendor," that is now out on DVD.  In fact, last summer I got the whole family together, and we watched this documentary together, and there were some points where I had to fill in a few of the details for my younger children who weren't as fully aware of the story, but the DVD, "Beyond the Gates of Splendor," is a documentary about the martyrdom of these missionaries, and the movie that's coming out in a couple of weeks is a theatrical motion picture, and you get a chance, if you have both of them, to see the story told two different ways and from two different perspectives.

 We've got copies of the DVD "Beyond the Gates of Splendor" in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  We also have copies of the companion book, Steve, that you've written called "End of the Spear."  If our listeners are interested in getting a copy of the DVD or the book, they can go to our website, FamilyLife.com and click the "Go" button at the bottom of the screen.  That will take you right to a page where you've got more information about these resources and others that are available on this subject.  In fact, if you buy the DVD and the book together, we'll send you the audio CD of our conversation this week with Steve Saint and Mart Green and Mincaye.  We'll send that at no additional cost.

 Again, the website, FamilyLife.com, click the "Go" button at the bottom of the screen or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can let you know how you can get these resources sent to you.

 Steve, I have to ask you one other question, because I know that you have experienced in the last couple of years, some personal tragedy, and God has used Mincaye to minister to you in the midst of that tragedy, right?

Steve: Yes.  God used Grandfather Mincaye to help me trust in the death of my – sudden and totally unexpected death of Ginny's and my only daughter who died after being gone and traveling around the world with a music group for a year, she came home, we had this incredible welcome home party, and in the middle of her welcome home party she had a massive cerebral hemorrhage and died.

Dennis: How old?

Steve: She was 20 years and 20 days.

Bob: You had just gone back to pray for her?

Steve: She had a headache, and Ginny said, "Hey, Steph's back in her room, and she wants you to pray for her."  So I thought it was a conspiracy, you know, for Ginny and me to be with Stephanie alone, because we had  other family and friends kept stopping by, and so Ginny sat on the bed and held Steph – Steph was much taller than Ginny, but she was holding her little girl, and I had my arms around her, and I said, "Yes, God cares about headaches, too," and I prayed that God would take her headache away, and while I was praying she had this massive hemorrhage, and she made a funny sound, and I looked at her, and I saw her eyes roll up into her head, but I called 911, and they rushed to our house, and they ran in with a gurney, and they could realize that she was in deep trouble, and they put her on the gurney, and as they ran out, her head was flopping to the side and hitting the gurney, and it was my little girl, so I didn't have any idea what was happening. 

I thought, "Well, she's just exhausted, she's dehydrated," so I ran out with them to hold Stephie's head, and so I jumped in the ambulance with them, but when we got down to the hospital and Grandfather came down, what he saw was these people he had never seen before, drove up to our house in this strange vehicle with lights all over it.  They burst into our house, they didn't greet us or anything, they ran back to her, and they grabbed Stephanie, and they kidnapped her, and I'm sure it looked to him, this is like a spearing raid, only the foreigners are doing it.  They've come in, and they've taken Stephanie.  And he loved Stephanie.

 So when he got down to the emergency room, he grabbed me, and he had this look on his face that I'd never seen, and he said, "Bavay, Bavay, tell me" – that's my tribal name – he said, "Tell me who is doing this."  And I realized he's ready to kill somebody to defend Stephanie, and he's a peaceful, fun-loving, I mean, wonderful man, but he knew how to kill people, and he hadn't forgotten that, and he said, "These people are doing this terrible thing.  You tell me who is doing this."  And I said, [speaks Waodani], "I don't know."  My head was reeling.  We were just five minutes before we were in the middle of this wonderful celebration that Stephanie had come back to us.  I said, "I don't know.  Nobody is doing this."

 And then he grabbed me, and he said, "Bavay, now I see it well.  Don't you understand?  Wyngnongi is doing this.  God Himself is doing this, taking Stephanie to live with Him."  I thought, "Mincaye, how can you say that God would do something like this?"  And then Mincaye started reaching out to the people in the emergency room.  He said, "People, people, don't you understand, being a God-follower, God Himself is taking Stephanie to live with Him."  And he said, "Look at me.  I am an old man" – of course, none of them could understand, and they were busy with different things that were going on, and they were rushing past us, and he actually was physically grabbing for them – "Listen, listen to me."  He said, "Being an old man, pretty soon I, too, am going to die, and being a God-follower, I, too, am going to go Onatty [ph] and live with Wyngnongi."  And he said, "People, if you will just walk God's trail, then coming to God's place," Stephanie, Star, "Nemoh" he called her – "Nemoh and I will be there happily waiting to greet you, and then we will live happily forever in God's place."

 And I realized Mincaye's faith was real and that night he wrapped his arms of faith around me in the most devastating, awful, unbelievable circumstance of my life, ever.  Mincaye helped me hang onto my faith, and I realized, you know, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature.

Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

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