Ecuador (MNN) — Gilberto Nenquimo, the grandson of Mincaye –one of the Waodani Indians who attacked and killed five missionaries in 1956, including MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship ) pilot Nate Saint, was among a host of leaders to help dedicate the newly-rebuilt Nate Saint House in Shell, Ecuador on Saturday.
More than 250 people attended the official unveiling of the house. MAF leaders from Ecuador and abroad shared at the event.
Nenquimo, who pastors a Waodani church on the edge of the jungle, shared about how the story of his grandfather and Nate Saint became more real to him as he grew older. Nenquimo eventually decided to become a Christian and help his fellow Waodani learn more about the Gospel.
Chris Nevins, founder of the non-profit group "Fuel the Mission" oversaw the construction project which took four months to complete and utilized about 20 percent of the lumber from the original house. Due to a severe infestation of flying termites in the house, Nevins estimated that it would have collapsed within a year without intervention.
"Instead of working 10-12 hours a day on something that doesn't matter that much, this was an opportunity for us to do something that really mattered," said Nevins. "This house represents a powerful story that has inspired and encouraged so many people in missions. We know that God didn't want this story to just go away."
During the four months Nevins has been working on the project, he estimated more than 400 people from various organizations and mission teams have visited the house due to the story popularized by the 2006 motion picture, "The End of the Spear."
As a result, Nevins and his team of eight Ecuadorians and other short-term work crews preserved the front two rooms in the house. The radio room displayed prominently in the movie, as well as the kitchen captured in a famous 1956 Life magazine photo, were restored to look much like they did when Nate Saint first built the house in 1948. Nevins also converted a front storage room into a historical display of MAF and Saint in Ecuador, which includes a display of Ecuador's stamp collection honoring Saint.
"We are thankful to God for the team at 'Fuel the Mission' and the many volunteers who worked on the house," said Dan Whitehead, the U.S. manager of the MAF program in Ecuador. "They turned this building into useful space that will be used for many years to come."
Gene Jordan, a former MAF pilot in Shell; Rick Dickson, MAF's area director for Latin America; David Montero, the Ecuador MAF program manager; Milton Guevara, the MAF Ecuador board president; as well as Whitehead and Nevins all spoke at the event, thanking the team of builders and honoring them for their work.