Stories You Should Know: Operation Auca November 29, 2023

Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, Ed McCulley, Operation Auca, Missionaries killed in Ecuador

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

A Snapshot of the Life of Nate Saint and Summary of Operation Auca:

Born: Aug. 30, 1923 – Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania

Died: Jan. 8, 1956 – Curaray Beach, Ecuador

One of five Auca Indian martyrs. Nate was converted at age 13 and served for three vears in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII. Saint was the pilot of the Piper Cruiser that landed on “Palm Beach” in a daring plan to contact the Stone Age Auca Indians. Wooden spear wielding Aucas came to the beach and killed the missionaries. Nate was married to Marjorie Farris on February 14, 1948. Saint went to Ecuador in 1948 with Missionary Aviation Fellowship, opening a base at Shell Mera. He invented a number of safety features in missionary aviation circles. For twelve weeks, they had contact with the Aucas prior to their martyrdom. His watch stopped at 3:12 p.m. His sister, Rachel Saint, and Betty Elliot, widow of Jim, finally reached the Aucas [with the gospel]. – (Excerpt taken from the Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies. Used by permission.)

A Spiritual Application for Our Lives:

Many people are familiar with the life and death of Jim Elliot (of whom you may read here). However, far fewer are familiar with the other strong Christian men who gave their lives for the cause of Christ. Not as much was written about Nate Saint, Pete Fleming, Ed McCulley, or Roger Youderian – but their record stands in Heaven. Volumes of their own writings have been preserved and ought to be read. I pray that these brief thoughts by each of those men would be a prod in all of our hearts.

Nate Saint

We draw from this letter from Nate Saint that was written 3 weeks before his death. Allow these words to penetrate your heart and mind today.

As we have a high old time this Christmas, may we who know Christ hear the cry of the damned as they hurtle headlong into the Christless night without ever a chance. May we be moved with compassion as our Lord was. May we shed tears of repentance for those whom we have failed to bring out of dark-ness. Beyond the smiling scenes of Bethlehem may we see the crushing agony of Golgotha. May God give us a new vision of His will concerning the Lost and our responsibility.

Would that we could comprehend the lot of these Stone-Age people who live in mortal fear of ambush on the jungle trail those to whom the bark of a gun means sudden, mysterious death . .. those who think all men in all the world are killers like themselves. If God would grant us the vision, the word “sacrifice” would disappear from our lips and thoughts; we would hate the things that seem now so dear to us; our lives would suddenly be too short, we would despise time-robbing distractions and charge the enemy with all our energies in the name of Christ. May God help us to judge ourselves by the eternities that separate the Aucas from a comprehension of Christmas, and Him, Who though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor so that we might, through His poverty, be made rich. ‘Lord, God, speak to my own heart and give me to know thy holy will and the joy of walking in it. Amen.‘”

Roger Youderian

Roger Yudarian was a strong believer who wrestled with the mind of God about Operation Auca. Finally, he found victory and peace in Christ. On December 19, just a few days before his death, Roger wrote this: “I will die to self. I will begin to ask God to put me in a service of constant circumstances where to live Christ I must die to self. I will be alive unto God. That I may learn to love Him with my heart, mind, soul, and body.

Then, just before leaving to join the other four men, Roger penned:

There is a seeking of honest love
Drawn from a soul storm-tossed,
A seeking for the gain of Christ,
To bless the blinded, the beaten, the lost.
Those who sought found Heavenly Love
And were filled with joy divine,
They walk today with Christ above…

Roger never finished that poem. Yet, his life and service speak more clearly than any words he could have penned. He had eternity in his heart.

Ed McCulley

In college, Mcculley battled long over his call to missionary work. In 1950, he wrote these words to Jim Elliot:

I have one desire now–to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy into it. Maybe he’ll send me some place where the name of Jesus Christ is unknown. Jim, I’m taking the Lord at his Word, and I trust him to prove his Word. It’s kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket, but we’ve already put our trust in him for salvation, so why not do it as far as our life is concerned? If there is nothing to this business of eternal life, we might as well lose everything in one crack and throw our present life away without life hereafter. But if there is something to it, then everything else the Lord says must hold true likewise.

This fervor for the eternal only intensified – giving his life for Christ was a choice made long before Ed’s death. After Ed’s passing, Marilou McCulley immediately began proclaiming boldly that God had not failed the men or their families. She was sure that God was using it already and would continue to accomplish His purpose! Marilou testified how God taught her to know Him in a deeper way. She said – “I’m sure that the Blood of the five martyrs will be the seed of the Acua Church.” She went on to remove any doubt, declaring: “God has not failed us, He has taught us.

Pete Fleming

When discussing the mission, Pete Fleming declared, “I am longing now to reach the Aucas if God gives me the honor of proclaiming the Name among them…I would gladly give my life for that tribe if only to see an assembly of those proud, clever, smart people gathering around the table to honor the Son – gladly, gladly, gladly! What more could be given to a life?” As with the other men, eternity was in his heart. The things of this life had fallen from view in the light of eternity.

This article is different for a reason. All of us are different. One thing is true of people that God uses – they are happy to trade the temporal for the eternal. God does not work in or through any of us the same way. But for God to use us, we must have eternity in our heart.

A Suggestion for Further Reading…

Through Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliot; 1981, Tyndale (Orginal publication, 1957) 

The Journals of Jim Elliot, Jim Elliot, edited by Elisabeth Elliot; 2020, Revell – (All of these men are mentioned in the course of the journal entries).

End of the Spear, Steve Saint; 2007, Tyndale – (this is written by Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint)

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