In 1956 five American missionaries to Ecuador were speared to death by members of the Waodoni tribe. Since then, millions have drawn inspiration from the slain missionaries and from their wives who chose to befriend the killers.
The End of the Spear by Steve Saint, unravels much of the mystery around the event and also the motivations of both the missionaries and the Waodoni. Steve is the son of Nate Saint, one of the men who was murdered. As a boy of 9, Steve went to live with his Aunt Rachel who herself chose to live among the Waodoni. His early immersion into the culture gives him a unique perspective and a fierce love for the people who killed his father. The End of the Spear reveals which of the men killed Steve’s dad and also that Steve now loves this man as a father.
After Steve had lived apart from the Waodoni for decades, they asked him to return – to teach them skills held by outsiders – especially health related skills such as uses of medicine, treating wounds, and dentistry.
Steve agreed and took his amazing wife and teenagers with him. But he was determined not to simply make the Waodoni dependent on him or any other outsider. His affection for them was so fierce that he wanted only to preserve the tribe – not to turn them into a welfare society or to put them at greater risk for those who might prey upon them.
It took me a little while to really get into this book; there were many strange names to pronounce and Saint moves back and forth in time to unravel the story. But eventually it settles into a thoroughly absorbing read!
One of the things I especially loved is the way in which Saint writes about faith. While this is clearly a book about the expression of Christianity there is nothing cliché about it! There is no religious jargon – only the Waodoni’s beautiful way of expressing their relationship with God.
This story is deep and multilayered - filled with inspiring examples and profound truths.
For information about how the Waodani are learning to be independent and to use technology that is feasible for their setting, visit http://itecusa.org/who.htm