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Decades after his grandfather Nate was speared to death by the Waodani Indians of Ecuador, Jesse Saint still does not understand his part of the story. His grandfather died a martyr trying to reach an unreached tribe. His father spent most of his childhood with the same tribe, helping the Waodani end the violent cycle of spear killing that had claimed his father’s life. Now, over two decades after his grandfather’s death, Jesse has spent his entire life trying to dodge the immense pressure to live up to his father and grandfather’s story. As he makes the trek deep into the Amazon rainforest to meet the Waodani, Jesse is searching to understand his family’s past, and discover what his own future might hold. From the award winning creators of Beyond The Gates of Splendor and End of The Spear comes a moving documentary about the quest of a young man in The Grandfathers.
Jesse Saint never knew his grandfather, Nate, who was martyred for his faith by the Amazon Indian tribe of the Waodani. In fact, he pretty much only knows what the rest of the world knows. His father, Steve, grew up with the tribe, but Jesse never understood that either. The documentary style film The Grandfathers tells the Saint family story through new eyes. Viewed through flashbacks and pieces of his family history, comes Jesse’s own story of misadventures in the Amazon jungle as he comes to know the tribe-- some of the very men-- who killed his grandfather. As he steps out of his grandfather and father’s shadows, he comes to realize the fear, hope, and joy of finding his own purpose in life. As he comes to befriend the men who killed his grandfather, he comes to realize that there might be room in the Saint family legacy for him as well. Watch his difficult struggle as he learns to befriend the very men who took the lives of his grandfather and see how this incredible journey of forgiveness leads to a powerful friendship of redemption.
The Story of Nate Saint
Jesse’s powerful story, brought to life in the film The Grandfathers, comes to being because of the actions of his grandfather, Nate Saint. In 1955 Nate Saint set out to reach the lost tribe of the Waodani people. This tribe was violent, full of hatred, and had never met a white man before. Nate, and his fellow teammates Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian were undeterred, however, and set out with high hopes and great prayers of reaching the Waodani people. For months the men used planes-- Nate was a pilot-- to drop gifts and messages to a Waodani village. They hoped to make contact with the tribe some day. Finally, after months of prayer and preparation, on June 3, 1956, the men landed and made camp some four miles outside the village. They successfully made contact with a small group of Waodani a few days later, and because of the friendly interaction, the men had great hopes of reaching the tribe. On June 8th, however, all five men were killed in a violent attack by the Waodani, and left dead on the same beach they had landed on. The Saint family story was not finished yet, however, as viewers of The Grandfathers may well know. Rachel Saint (Nate’s sister) and Elizabeth Elliot (Jim Elliot’s wife) successfully reached the Waodani people, helping to change their culture of rage and hatred, and teaching them of God’s forgiveness, mercy, and love. Steve Saint (Nate’s son) visited his missionary relatives many times, and gained a true heart and love for the Waodani people-- the very ones who had killed his father. Now, in the film The Grandfathers, viewers are introduced to the continuation of the Saint family’s work, through the eyes of Nate’s grandson, Jesse.
Forgiveness and Other Themes
Just like the preceding films Beyond The Gates of Splendor and End Of The Spear, the film The Grandfathers is filled with themes of forgiveness and unconditional love. As Jesse comes to know the men who killed his grandfather, he realizes the power of forgiveness has transformed these men into new creations. He also discovers what forgiveness can do in his own life. Jesse also comes to understand how the love of God can transform a person so dramatically that though they may have the same hands and eyes that killed his grandfather, they have different hearts. The Grandfathers is in many ways a resounding message of unconditional love. Not hampered by the fact that this tribe killed his grandfather, Jesse comes to love them-- even calling the older ones grandfather, and having some visit his home in the United States. The Grandfathers serves as a powerful reminder that God’s love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness is not constrained by action, and that ours should not be either.
Based on inspiring true events, The Grandfathers continues the legacy of Nate Saint to the third generation, through the eyes of his grandson. With plenty of convicting messages, inspiring stories, and bits of rain forest inspired humor, The Grandfathers will remind you once again that the loving actions of one man can change the course of generations, and that love and forgiveness are not bound by history, present, or future-- they are gifts of God.
The Grandfathers was rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for thematic material and violent content. Some scenes, topics, and issues in The Grandfathers may not be suitable for younger viewers, but this film received the “Family Approved” award for ages twelve and up from the Dove Foundation. As always, it is recommended that parents preview all content to determine what is suitable for their children, but the film The Grandfathers is considered appropriate for most older audiences.
If you enjoyed the film The Grandfathers or would like to learn more about the story of Nate Saint, you might enjoy the films End Of The Spear and Beyond The Gates of Splendor.
Based on inspiring true events, The Grandfathers continues the legacy of Nate Saint to the third generation, through the eyes of his grandson.