Twenty-five years earlier, close to the bustling city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a young baby was born into the home of a stain glass artist. The baby was named Nate Saint. Two months earlier, in rural Missouri, a baby girl was born. Her name was Marj Farris. These two babies would grow along two completely different paths. Marj went to Idaho and then on to California, where she became a nurse. Nate would serve in the army during WWII and would then become a pilot.
But God brought the lives of these two wonderful young people together. When he was in California, Nate saw a beautiful young nurse and fell in love. Soon, they were married.
On the day of their wedding, the young couple chose a marriage verse for themselves. It was Psalm 34:7 ‘O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together.’ That was their plan. They were going to work together to exalt the name and glory of the Lord. And that was just what they did, until God had other plans…
The same year of their wedding, the newly weds flew down to Shell Mera, Ecuador to open a supply base for missionaries in the area. Nate would use his plane to carry supplies and Marj would be his contact back at the base, keeping an eye on the weather and correspondence. It was while they were working in Ecuador that the Saints got involved with a new mission: Operation Auca.
Operation Auca was a plan to reach the Auca Indian tribe with the Gospel. There were five missionary couples involved with the mission. Nate and Marj soon found themselves playing an important role in the plan. Nate would use his plane to fly over the Auca village and drop off gifts to the Indians. Marj stayed at the home base and kept continual radio contact with the plane as it traveled, helping ensure their safety.
In January of 1956, Nate landed his plane near the village and prepared to make contact with the Indians. On the 8th, he radioed Marj and said, “Looks like they’ll be here for the early afternoon service. Pray for us. This is the day! Will contact you next at four-thirty.” Excitedly, Marj gathered the other wives together and they prayed for their husbands. At 4:30, Marj picked up her radio and tried to contact Nate. All she got was static.
For eight years, Nate and Marj lived out their marriage verse. For eight years, they had exalted and gloried God’s name together. But God chose to separate them and end their ministry together. But their legacy lives on. While speaking at a conference, their son, Steve Saint, was giving a list of common mistakes missionaries make. One of the mistakes was “Marrying wrong; getting married to someone who isn’t equally committed.” Steve had seen his parents and how they shared their commitment to the Lord’s work. He realized that this shared zeal was vital!
This Valentine Day, ask God what you and your spouse could do to “exalt his name together”. You never know how much time you will have to do it together…
Eighteen men and seven women responded to the appeal and on the 25th, they met at the home of George Wood. Led by Luther Rice, they formed “The Baptist General Tract Society.” The Society declared that “its sole object shall be to disseminate evangelical truth, and to inculcate sound morals, by the distribution of tracts.” In time, the Tract Society developed into one of the major religious publishing houses in America. From the first, its basis was to be distinctly Baptist.
During its first year of operation, the Tract Society received only $373 in offerings but managed to issue nineteen tracts dealing with doctrinal, devotional, and moral topics. Most of the tracts were brief, from 4 to 12 pages, and included such titles as “Life of Bunyan,” “Friendly Advice,” “The Death Bed of a Medical Student,” “Address to the Sinner,” and “The Dreadful Superstition of the Hindoos.” By 1830, the Tract Society had issued almost 100 titles, for a total of 1,394,000 tracts with 15,393,000 pages.
The tracts put out by the society did much to allow the average person to become a bold witness. It was said that: “Not the least advantage of the tracts is, that they enable every man to become a preacher of righteousness.” Such a witness enabled the gospel to penetrate to destitute places which could not sustain a preacher. The Baptist Tract Magazine, a monthly launched in 1827, carried frequent testimonies and examples of persons converted from reading tracts. One pastor wrote:
I have often known a tract to be read repeatedly, … And when I have conversed with a man who has no interest in Christ, and left him alarmed at his condition as a sinner, I wish to put into his hand a tract that may be the means of directing him to his Saviour. But I am grieved, from day to day, that I have no tracts.
The Tract Society also helped to unify American Baptists. The vast extent of the country, the scattered churches, and difficulty of communication hampered the emergence of common views and practices. By its publications, the Tract Society led Baptists along the path of unity, helping them to develop common viewpoints on doctrinal and moral questions and more uniform styles of worship.
Today the Society is called “The Judson Press”.
This Valentine day, show your love for Christ and those who have never heard by leaving them a gospel tract. The message it contains could change a person’s life completely!
The Baptist heritage By: H.L. McBeth
Check out bcwe.org