Here is an interesting evangelical cultural artifact from sixty years ago, when Rachel Saint (1914–1994)—missionary to Ecuador—appeared on the NBC television show “This Is Your Life.” The set-up for the program was that host Ralph Edwards would surprise his guests by providing a retrospective of their lives, including appearances by their friends and family.
The young woman accompanying Rachel on this program was Dayuma (c. 1930–2014), who was born into the Huaorani tribe but had left for a season to assimilate with the Quechua people. Members of Dayuma’s immediate family were among those who killed the five missionaries—including Jim Elliot and Rachel’s younger brother, Nate—just 17 months earlier—attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people through Operation Auca.
Dayuma was the first member of the Huaorani tribe to convert to Christianity and was instrumental in helping Rachel and others study and translate the “Huao Terero” language for the first time.
Unsurprisingly, the host Ralph Edwards is clearly uncomfortable communicating with through translation to someone who does not speak English and does not understand American culture, and he displays many of the subtle and not-so-subtle cultural insensitivites one would expect from this time period.
You can watch the half-hour show below:
Rachel, trained by the Summer Institute of Linguistics and sent by Wycliffe Bible Translators, first served in Peru but moved to Ecuador in February of 1955 when she was 41 years old.
The same summer that this television program was filmed, Rachel and Duyuma also appeared at Billy Graham’s Crusade at Madison Square Garden on July 7.
In May of 1958, they returned to Ecuador, where Dayuma reunited with her family.
In 1973, SIL sent anthropologist James Yost to investigate Saint’s work in 1973, and the resulting report was quite critical of her methods. In 1976, SIL asked her to retire. She continued to work there independently.
On November 11, 1994, Rachel Saint died of cancer. She is buried where she had lived with the Huaorani in Toñampare, Ecuador, having poured out her life for nearly four decades to introduce this people, whom she dearly loved, to the gospel of Jesus Christ.