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April 28, 2005

“Science” catches up with Christians -- 49 years later

Delivering and receiving material or personnel from spaces lacking adequate landing area has plague society since airplane and helicopter use began. Airplanes need a landing strip and helicopters need at least a somewhat wide and level ground to land. Even lines lowered from helicopters posed problems are the rotors created severe downdrafts and even electrical discharge. The solution has been around since 1956, but ignored due to the prevalent anti-Christian bigotry that strangle holds so much of science and technology.

From NewScientist:

ECUADOR, 1956. A small aircraft skims dangerously low over the rainforest, making tight circles above a narrow canyon. The pilot is Nate Saint, a missionary from the Mission Aviation Fellowship. He wants to show the Waodani people in the remote settlement below that he is friendly. Gifts are a universal language. Now all he has to do is drop them into a small clearing.

Keeping one hand on the joystick, he reels a basket loaded with machetes and cooking pots out of the plane on a long line. When enough rope is paid out, Saint's tight circular flight path combines with the forces of gravity and drag to hold the basket almost motionless in the air. He lets out more line, lowering the basket until it hovers a metre above the ground.

The Waodani understand, and reach into the basket for the gifts. They even leave some in return - a feather head dress, some smoked meat and a parrot which Saint's son later adopts as a pet.

Although Saint's "bucket drop" technique, perfected over the orange groves of California, proved invaluable for making contact, it has been largely ignored - until now.

Nate Saint, a pilot for Mission Aviation Fellowship, BTW, along with Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Roger Youderin and Peter Fleming were murdered by the Waorani (also known as the Auca) in Ecuador as they attempted to contact them.

Almost 50 years after Saint's flight, Pavel Trivailo and a team of engineers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia are exploring the same basic principles to devise a more sophisticated air delivery system. They are working on an automated device that will allow them to pick up and put down loads - including people - with hardly a jolt. If their system is successful, it could speed up rescues at sea, make cargo or aid delivery far easier and help collect injured people from otherwise inaccessible regions of jungle or mountain.

While this technique will more than likely prove to be very helpful in many areas, the writer of the article is obviously oblivious to the more important consequences of Nate Saint's work:

...the Waorani had maintained the highest levels of homicide ever recorded in the annals of human history. Fully fifty per cent of all deaths in the preceding five generations had been the result of homicide as the Waorani engaged in a continuous and deadly internal vendetta, pursued mostly at night, in spearing raids. No death, it seemed, whatever the cause, went unavenged. Furthermore, the Waorani were even reputed to kill by spearing any, although only a few instances have been proven, of their old people who no longer had the means to support themselves; and they practised infanticide, either strangling unwanted or malformed babies with vines, or burying them alive.

...the Waorani invited Rachel Saint and Elisabeth Elliott, one a sister and one a widow of the speared missionaries, to come to live with them. The invitation was accepted, and when the two American women travelled to the forest, the first ever peaceful contact with the Waorani was made. Rachel Saint and Elisabeth Elliott settled into a life with the killers of their loved ones and began to convert them to Christianity.

It has often been stated that the spearing of the five missionaries was the turning point in Waorani history. But the truly pivotal point was when Rachel and Elisabeth showed the Waorani that they were ready to forgive them for the killings. Forgiveness was a new concept to them, and it brought, for the first time ever, a possibility of peace, something the Waorani had longed for and sought for many generations, but had failed to attain. The appeal of the Christian message for the Waorani had more to do with the promise of an end to living in constant fear of spearing raids than any promise of an afterlife or relationship with God.

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 28, 2005 09:12 AM

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