Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

Simplistic Walking His Trail Short on Inspiration

  • 2007 18 Sep
Simplistic <i>Walking His Trail</i> Short on Inspiration

Author:  Steve Saint with Ginny Saint
Title:  Walking His Trail
Publisher:  Tyndale House

“Your story is the greatest legacy you will leave to your friends and the longest-lasting inheritance you will leave to your heirs,” writes Steve Saint, author of End of the Spear, the 2005 memoir in which the author recalls the Amazonian death of his missionary pilot father, Nate, as well as the subsequent conversion of the killers.

Prompted by an unbeliever who asked Saint for evidence that God had intervened in his life, Saint penned this collection of stories with his wife, Ginny.  In answering the young man’s question, “Where are the signs of God along the way?” Saint doesn’t limit himself to dramatic tales.  Some, in fact—like his memories about marrying his wife and later, finding the perfect home (told from Ginny’s perspective)—are quite mundane. 

“As we age,” Saint writes, “we come to grips with the sobering fact that most of us are just common, ordinary people whose lives will never make headlines and whose deeds will never be recorded in history books.”  Here, he shows us that even through everyday events, God is still very present and active in the lives of his people.

Thankfully, Saint also shares dramatic instances of God’s intervention, like how they successfully recreated his father’s plane (to the exact “N” number), and how Saint’s memoir was transformed into a Hollywood feature film.  Many will remember the controversy surrounding this film when Chad Allen, a homosexual activist and actor, was unknowingly hired to play Saint’s father by the film’s producer, Mart Green

After Saint claimed to have heard from God and refused to fire Allen, Christians around the globe erupted in fury.  The situation was even discussed on CNN’s “Larry King Live” show.  Here, Saint shares his side of the story.  He also talks about the way that he was treated by fellow believers.  Finally, he shares memories of the wives of the five missionaries who were killed along with his father (a group which included Jim Elliott), including several stories that have never been told about their own heroic deeds.

Unlike many memoirs which inspire readers through their eloquent prose, Saint’s writing is simplistic.  At times, it feels almost as if he has dictated the story to a typist.  He offers little in the way of setting, fails to describe characters and dispenses with literary basics like scene, suspense and conflict.  He rarely even uses dialogue, preferring to recount stories from memory.

This hampers the book, making it much less appealing than it could have been especially given the drama of Saint’s life.  His book therefore reads more like a series of lectures than an actual memoir where readers experience each conflict as it unfolds, reliving every thrilling detail.   Still, the reality of God’s work throughout Saint’s life is undeniable, and those who persevere with this book will be forced to agree.  They may even be inspired to write their own stories of God’s ‘sign’s along the way.’