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October 27th, 2010
05:00 AM ET

Missionary builds flying car, FAA certifies it

Editor's Note: CNN Correspondent Kate Bolduan and Belief Blog Co-Editor Eric Marrapodi bring us this story from Dunnellon, Florida.

Sparks are flying as we walk into the airplane hanger. Steve Saint is sharpening a machete on an electric grinder.  He comes over to introduce himself wielding the knife he extols as both a tool and a weapon. But we've come to talk about something else he is working on, a flying car.

Saint heads i-tec, the Indigenous People's Technology and Education Center. He is working with the Waodani tribe at the edge of the Amazon in Ecuador to help them solve a transportation riddle plaguing hard to reach regions all over the world: What do you do when the road ends? His solution, build a flying car. So he and his team did.

See video of the flying car in action here.

While we were getting the tour of the workshop, officials with the Federal Aviation Administration were in the back office with i-tec's engineers going over the final paperwork for the Maverick. By the end of the day, Saint held in his hand the FAA certification for special airworthiness for a light sport aircraft, the first such certification for a flying car. (A vehicle called The Transition is similar, but it's not a flying car. It's a roadworthy plane, meaning it's a plane that can also be driven on the road with its wings folded. Read about The Transition here.)

Saint is one part Christian missionary, one part pilot, one part inventor.

He grew up living in Ecuador. He tells us that his family moved there after the Waodani Indians speared his father to death. His dad, Nate Saint, a pilot, was part of a group of Christian missionaries trying to make contact with the tribe. They did, and according to the younger Saint, paid the ultimate price. Saint's family didn't give up trying to make contact with the tribe.

"I was just a little boy when my dad was killed, but I knew that my dad really cared enough about those people that he was willing to risk his life so that they wouldn't be killed by the oil company and the government," he said.

Eventually his aunt Rachel was able to make contact again and live with the tribe.

"The only sense I could make of that was my dad thought these people were really special people, and my aunt wanted to live with them, mom was praying for them. By the time I met them I was convinced these were the most special people in the world. And then one of the warriors, actually a man by the name of Minkai, he adopted me, and started treating me like on of his boys, because he realized having speared my father I didn't have anyone to teach me how to live, so he taught me the skills I needed, you know, blow gunning and making spears."

Eventually Saint went away to school, built a career in the United States, and married a girl from Minnesota.

In 1994 his aunt Rachel died. The family honored Rachel's request to be buried in Ecuador. The tribe told Saint it was time for him to return. Saint and his family agreed and went back to live in the jungle.

The tribe asked Saint to teach them to fend for themselves rather than have to depend on outside aid to survive. Out of that grew the small Florida based non-profit that today is i-tec.

"What we're doing here at I-Tec is we're reinventing the technology so it fits the people so that they don't have to become like us," Saint said. "And it's taken a while. I retired from business 16 years ago, and people don't pay you to do this, and my wife Ginny and I just decided, 'hey let's do this.'"

The Maverick flying car is just one piece of the puzzle for I-Tec. "We've been working on this particular project for six years," Saint said. "But it's just one, the bigger thing that we do is developing health care technology and tools and training systems so that we can train people that live out in the jungle areas, that don't have any formal education, and don't have access to doctors or nurses or midwives, or optometrists, or dentists, teaching them how to take care of these needs for their own people. That's really what we're doing."

Scattered around the shop are some of the innovations. They developed portable dentistry equipment that can be carried on your back through the jungle. They also created a hand bike designed to help the handicapped conquer difficult terrain in areas where a wheelchair won't work. But the pièce de résistance is by far the Maverick.

I-tec experimented with several different versions of the powered parachute to take the car from the road to the air.

To switch from drive-mode to fly-mode, the operator has to deploy a mast and parachute. The chute is tucked away on the roof for the car and the mast is underneath the chassis when the car is in drive mode. The mast locks into place, the parachute is attached, and it is raised to over 25 feet. All the driver has to do then is switch the motor from drive to fly, pull back 100 yards, and take off.

When they sat down at the drawing board, Saint and his team had two goals for the vehicle in addition to flying: It had to be rugged enough to drive in the jungle and cheap enough that non-profits like his could afford one.

The Maverick is rugged. Saint took us for a spin around the airport where i-tec is based. It rides like a car on the road and bounces like a dune buggy off road. Its structure is chromoly-steel tubing and the black skin of the vehicle is canvas. That, in combination with the fact the car propulsion and air propulsion use the same engine in the rear of the vehicle, makes the Maverick extremely light. It is half the weight of a Smart Car.

"The Maverick is not only a practical flying car but it's also a beefy car," says Logan Ward from Popular Mechanics. "They put a Subaru engine in this thing with 250 horsepower. It goes 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds.We were really impressed they gave it that sort of on-road performance."

Popular Mechanics gave the Maverick one of its 'Breakthrough Awards' in 2009 after Ward wrote a piece about the prototype. "This thing is poised to hit the market. They have plans to sell it, to manufacture it. They have a price tag. This is becoming a reality where so many flying cars have just been pie in the sky toys for billionaires," Ward told CNN.

I-tec hopes the Maverick will go into production soon now that they have secured FAA certification for flight and road certification as a kit vehicle (the Maverick has a Florida license plate that reads "FLY CAR"). Saint says if they can manufacture about 100 per year, a job they will send out to a manufacturer, they think the price will be around $80,000 for each Maverick.

Saint wants to get the price down and believes the commercial market is the best way to reduce the cost. "The commercial market will get the quantities up to get the cost down. Plus we're a non-profit company so we don't live to make a profit, but if the commercial market is successful we'll use that for more research and development and to make these available to people in frontier markets - people who don't have the resources to buy it at a commercial rate," he said.

Saint thinks there are hundreds of commercial applications for the Maverick. ."You can take it on really rugged terrain. So with this one, you can fly over, find somebody that needs to be rescued, and you can land and drive to them," he said.

"Border patrol, pipeline monitoring, out on the gulf, BP with the big oil slick.  You could take off from the back of the fishing trawler. Get the fishing trawler going 20 miles an hour, and you could take off in about 20 feet, and then you could go out, what you can't see from the surface you can see from 1000 or 2000 feet. You see a huge expanse. Ranching and extreme sports - there's just all kinds of uses. I'm sure we'll be surprised by the uses people put this to."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Florida • Missionaries • United States

soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. Joe

    God bless you Steve Saint.

    October 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • Dennis

      and your toys too

      October 27, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
  2. sully

    80k? You can buy a dune buggy and an ultralight aircraft for about 20k or a real basic ready to fly sport plane for 80k...talk about a specialty market. Would be interesting to hear how long it takes to deploy the mast, prep the chute and then undo it after landing.

    October 27, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
    • Dennis

      You have to shell around the money somehow.

      October 27, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  3. neal

    Where will these tribes get gasoline and how will they pay for it?

    October 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @neal

      LOL, good point!

      October 28, 2010 at 12:13 am |
  4. MandoZink

    "When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible.
    They taught us to pray with our eyes closed.
    When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible."
    - Jomo Kenyatta -
    Former President of Kenya, Grandson of a Kikuyu medicine man, Kenya's first statesman

    Destroying civilizations for Jesus, one village at a time. Just fly in with your magic car and impress the heck out of the unknowing peoples. Take along some magic flashlights, radios, butane lighters, laser pointers, etc. This is some sick stuff.

    If only I spoke their language. "Let the flying car land. Take what you want from it. Burn it. Then make the intruders walk back home. But let them live because that's what Jesus would do."

    I wish evangelicals weren't so insecure about the existence of others.

    October 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
    • Joe

      Here come the atheists, can't have a Christian comment without 'em...lol

      October 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
    • Matt

      @ MandoZink

      Its interesting that you ignore all the good that has been done in the name of Christ. Do you believe it is a coincidence that so many hospitals bear the names of saints? Yes, much evil has been done while people claimed christianity, but please don't credit that as true Christian behavior. There are many, many more strong Christians that every day go forth to help those in need. (i.e. many more Mother Theresas than there are Jim Bakers)

      October 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
    • MzPz

      Matt – Given all the religious wars & killing in the name of God, I think the "good" vs. the "bad" done in the name of Christ is about 50/50 at best. The primary purpose of the "Missionary" is often religious. Today, large amounts of money are funneled from Western Christian groups into 3rd World countries, in an effort to influence policy. For example, a HUGE amount of money from Christian groups in the USA is funneled to assist the Ugandan government in enforcing it's anti-gay legislation (you can receive the death penalty there, not just for being gay, but for harboring a gay or helping a gay). The money is often passed off as "Aid" or "humanitarian funds" but in fact goes to the hands of legislators. It's a very fair and legitimate argument that pure "charity" with no other agenda is hard to come by these days. I think it's fair that people are skeptics. Especially when so many church groups hand out bread along with the Bible.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • senoy

      Just as an aside, the we had the Bible they had the land quote was not Kenyatta (though it has been ascribed to him) It's actually from Desmond Tutu, the Anglican Archbishop. It was meant certainly as a comment on systemic injustices throughout Africa wrought by colonialism, but it is also a comment on how Europe and more particularly white Africans had lost their religious roots.

      October 27, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  5. Jesus

    David Johnson,
    You are right. I'm on the way.
    Good luck, son.

    October 27, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  6. GlenInPhx

    This is an impressive example of a man who sees a problem, then envisions a solution, and then creates and execute a plan to bring the vision to reality. Pure entrepreneurial spirit at work here. The fact that he is trying to get the car to market in order to reduce unit cost is sound, and the fact that he will use the "profits" from the sales of the commercial models to provide other units at reduced (or no cost at all) to these distant and very isolated tribes is pure charity at it's very best. And he didn't need any help from the government whatsoever to make this happen (other than getting the fershlugginer thing FAA certified (x-p)).

    October 27, 2010 at 11:50 am |
    • Dennis

      yeah, how do get money by making a living being a witch doctor....I mean – man of faith

      October 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
  7. guest

    I can't wait to hear about the first DUI (DWI) in one of these things.....

    October 27, 2010 at 11:47 am |
    • MzPz

      An "FWI" Flying While Intoxicated. LOL.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  8. zee

    If the tribe had been left alone, to continue their way of life they would not need this flying car. They would still be living the way their ancestors lived, comfortably off the land with all their rituals and traditions. But missionaries feel the need to infiltrate these isolated tribes to bring them the mainstream religions of the rest of the world. Along with religion, they bring outside influences, modern equipment, dress etc. The tribes get used to it, change their lifestyles and then become dependent on modern conveniences. Missionaries should leave these tribes alone and let them continue their lifestyle and traditions.

    October 27, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • AR

      @Jessica/zee – incase you didn't notice in the article, these inventions are to bring health supplies, etc to these indigenous tribes who have no other access to medical attention they have. The average life expectancy of people in these tribes can be as low as 30-40 years old – the goal isn't to change their way of life but to help them live longer, healthier lives where disease and sickness and early death are just bad memories...if you are so against missionaries why don't you go and do all that yourself?

      October 27, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • Hugo

      Your opinion is based on what? I would guess that you aren't a Luddite. What is your basis?

      October 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
    • informer

      Zee,
      Read a little about the "idyllic" lifestyle these and other Amazonian tribes had before missionary contact. Life for them sucked. They speared everyone all the time over anything. Not all missionaries are good for the people they encounter, but this family changed this tribes life for the better.

      October 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • Mar Komus

      What would have happened is that they would have been forced, cajoled, and bullied around by the oil companies. The unintended result of this expedition is that the people were preserved. And they gave up spearing each other and outsiders.

      October 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
    • MzPz

      I agree. Just "making contact" brings Western diseases to these tribes, which they have no way to cure. Any "contact" permanently alters the tribe, and not always for the better. It's a fair point of disscussion – do we "let" the tribes remain untouched or do we selectively introduce some Western-ways (medicine, for example). And who defines what is introduced? Missionaries? Health workers? Oil companies? Maybe the Ecuadorian Government?

      October 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • vicki

      @Zee, The fact is the way development is happening in third world/second world countries, these people won't have any chance to maintain their "idyllic" in the long run. It isn't missionaries who are going eventually change their lifestyle, but selfish big businesses who are looking for more natural resources. Instead, these missionaries see whats going happen and try to empower themselves, and not become another group of lost/homeless indigenousness people. They are showing God's love in the true sense, that Jesus came down to sacrifice himself to save people. And these missionaries are doing the same, sacrificing themselves to save these people from being destroyed by the world.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • pbsat

      You need to understand history on indigenous peoples around the world. There were many occasions of tribes getting wiped out with viral diseases and tribal wars, even without external influence. Before these missionaries went there, they were killing outsiders, living a secluded life of killing and getting killed. Now they have a better life. Of course, they could be exploited by those after natural resources, but they are more equipped now than before to defend intelligently.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    • Ryder

      obviously you don't know the whole story. watch "the end of the spear". it will give much light upon your thoughts

      October 27, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
    • diver02

      the tribe was killing itself and other tribes. What Nate saint and the other 4 men did was actually save the tribe from extinction.

      October 28, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  9. Jessica

    OK, flying car is cool, I want one. When they killed his father they should have left the tribe alone like they obviously wanted. Why do these missionaries have to force themselves on people? Don't they know the meaning of leave us alone via a spear?

    October 27, 2010 at 11:44 am |
    • NL

      Part of the myth is that Jesus will come back once the gospel is preached to ALL of humanity. So any right that these people have to left alone in the wild must, of course, be sacrificed to that end.

      October 27, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • Mar Komus

      They were afraid of outsiders at first for good reasons. The missionaries came to them peaceably, admittedly committed a couple of unintentional cultural guffaws and paid. But it was the women associated with them who eventually came back to live among them.

      October 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • Ted

      Mssionaries created the written vietnamese language. Jesuits have helped poor people for centuries. Only overly-idealistic liberals think that people like this can't benefit from modern technology. They prefer that there always be tribes out there that live in the sticks with no running water, education or transportation. Seems like a more quaint existence to them I guess.

      November 12, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  10. Gary

    There was a major motion picture a few years ago about Nate Saint called “End of the Spear.” I saw it in the theater and was very impressed. It‘s available on NetFlix.

    October 27, 2010 at 11:42 am |
  11. Mr. T. Bag

    My great grand-mother used to say the devil flys around in a tiny airplane.

    October 27, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  12. teapartier

    you'll like the comment on this one "WoW! Now the fundies can drive to Heaven. They can honk at Jesus, who I am sure is on his way back. LOL"

    October 27, 2010 at 11:29 am |
  13. My Two Cents

    "Get the fishing trawler going 20 miles and hour, and you could take off in about 20 feet..." Who edits these things? 20 miles and hour?

    October 27, 2010 at 11:29 am |
    • Keep them

      It's a quote. Generally you don't edit quotes. Keep your two cents.

      October 27, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  14. Texas Pete

    If he is using it in Ecuador, why does FAA approval matter? Shouldn't he be looking for approval from the Ecuador version of the FAA?

    October 27, 2010 at 11:21 am |
    • Dencof

      My guess is commercial marketability, to either help driv ethe cost per unit down, or to subsidize the folks in isolated areas.

      October 27, 2010 at 11:28 am |
    • stan t

      faa approval means nothing. if you were a fan of 'junk yard wars' on the discovery channel the plans teams bodged together from bits from the junk yard in 2 days got special airworthyness certificates. any airplane that legally flies in the us will need one. all it takes is having an faa inspector come out and review the craft to see that proper general mechanics are used and you dont have your wings held on with duct tape or anything (unless you can prove that the duct tape is structurally sufficent to bear the load needed). this is very different from the inspections and certification process used in a production airplane like a jetliner.

      October 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      Did you not even make it to the 3rd paragraph.

      Border patrol, pipeline monitoring, out on the gulf, BP with the big oil slick...Ranching and extreme sports – there's just all kinds of uses

      October 27, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
    • Hugo

      I could speculate that some nations don't really have the resources to evaluate aircraft so they rely on other nations to do the engineering analysis.

      October 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • Matt

      He's selling it in the USA and taking the proceeds to make it affordable for indigenous people to get. From how it reads he is not wealthy so can't afford to just build them and give them away. Being licensed in the USA allows him to sell them here.

      October 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
    • Brad

      Because his company is based in Florida, USA.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  15. Al

    Woopty doo. For $80,000 it better have a cup holder and cruise control.

    October 27, 2010 at 11:19 am |
  16. notyourname

    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

    – Jim Elliot, adapted from Phillip Henry

    October 27, 2010 at 11:19 am |
  17. Dencof

    I didn't notice a religious overtone to anything Steve Saint mentioned. He stated his efforts were to improve the indigenous peoples health with minimal dependance on outsiders. The fly car is an interesting outcome of his interests and his assessment of the needs of many isolated people. So the way I see it, David, is that you can get one of these fly cars, and drive it to Hell! LOL!

    October 27, 2010 at 11:15 am |
    • Hugo

      "I didn't notice a religious overtone to anything Steve Saint mentioned. He stated his efforts were to improve the indigenous peoples health with minimal dependance on outsiders."

      Perhaps I can help you to notice. He is "loving upon them." At some point, he hopes, they will want to know why. Now they are listening. The answer is that he's a Christian. Ideally (from Steve Saint's likely viewpoint) that answer leads to a dialog.

      October 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • rfrost

      News stations like to filter out Christian comments in interviews; it has been done before with friends of mine who were interviewed and broadcast.

      Also, in a third world country, there is great practicality in having a car that can rescue, patrol, herd, and do everything else that Steve listed. Mission work requires loving people and sharing life with them, and these different aspects of life might require transportation in harsh locations. I grew up as a missionary kid and am amazed at how this car would help in the work of missionaries as they love and serve people around the world..incredible.

      October 27, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    • Dawn

      Anyone who would rather jam their religion down someone's throat instead of helping them can go to hell first.

      October 27, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
    • Brad

      OMG who cares, so he tells them his views, they are grown ups, they can easily say no, we don't believe that way. I don't believe in God, and I wish religion would go away, but people have a right to believe as they want, and share their beliefs. All these people whining about it, you are just as annoying, your do the same thing you are complaining about, you are trying to force your way on believers, just shut up, everyone. Believe if you want or don't, but just shut up and leave people alone, both sides!

      October 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • Rose

      Dave, sadly the news is not allowed to say anything about Jesus, or gospel, or anything. I'm sure they edited all that out.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • Douglas

      Whether there is a religious overtone in this article or not, I certainly hope that he preaches about the "messiah from sin" Jesus Christ, and not just be a friendly and helpful missionary. People need to at least hear about Jesus Christ and His offer of salvation so that they can choose to believe or not, and then form a relationship with God or not. Eternal death or eternal life ... not a difficult choice to me.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
    • displeased

      Douglas, so if a tribe is unaware of your god, then they will perish in eternal death? Sounds like a real nice god you worship.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
    • Some_Truth

      Douglas,

      You are saying that God/Jesus is not powerful enough nor loving enough to appear to and have a 'relationship' with isolated tribes; and he must rely on people to make his presence known.... that he doesn't exist until people are taught to believe.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • King Arthur

      Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?!

      October 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
    • csr

      Douglas,
      So anyone who doesn't believe/convert to Christianity is doomed to hell? Hmm...did you know that Gandhi studied Christianity (had many Christian friends, read the bible, and even attended services), but in the end felt Hinduism, the religion he was born into, was the best choice for him. I find it ironic that a man who turned his back on the Christian religion lived a life that, according to the bible, epitomized the teachings of Christ more so than any Christian in the past century (with the exception of Mother Teresa). And not even the pope, could convince me that Gandhi died and went to hell.

      October 27, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  18. capnjammer

    This is beautiful. I grew up hearing stories of Nate Saint, who I believed died just to bring the Gospel to the tribe, which would have been a terrible waste. It turns out there was more involved, and he was actually doing it for a good cause. And now to see this about his son is really extraordinary. He may be there sharing his faith, but it isn't in a way that's destructive to the indigenous people's own culture. He's actually complementing their culture instead of trying to convert them to be like white American protestants. This is one missionary I'd like to congratulate.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  19. Peter F

    That is outstanding!

    October 27, 2010 at 9:51 am |
    • jesus

      Maybe he'll see his imaginary and invisible friend called Gawd in those clouds.

      October 27, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  20. Frank

    Cool! And it's for a good cause, so even better. Good luck to them.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:08 am |
    • wisey

      The good cause being recruiting more christians.

      October 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Gary

      "The good cause being recruiting more christians." and what is wrong with that?

      October 27, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
    • DEA SA William Fiock

      Drug trafficking made easy. Great cause.

      October 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • Dereck

      Perhaps…. They should of course be able to go around and at least talk to people about their religion and its perks/downsides to those who wish to listen. But I've encountered more than a few bible thumpers who wouldn't be welcome on my property. And the way some of these groups meld religious conversion with aid (food, water, shelter) infuriates me. Set up a church if you want while providing aid, but making attending of that church/praying/baptism a condition of getting food? That’s disgusting.

      October 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
    • wisey

      ""The good cause being recruiting more christians." and what is wrong with that?"

      They are permanently altering a culture just so a religion can grow in ranks. If their goal was simply to help people they wouldn't attempt to brainwash them.

      My shiny green rock is better than your shiny green rock.

      October 27, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
    • Laura

      Why do people get so bent out of shape that Christians are showing caring of another people group, and expressly are giving them things they need so they don't have to change their own culture??? The help was asked for, not shoved down their throats. You seem to have a chip on your shoulder!

      October 27, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @"DEA SA William Fiock"

      If you were really DEA, you would lose your job for posting stuff like that here. You are just another fake. Get lost.

      October 28, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • wisey

      "Why do people get so bent out of shape that Christians are showing caring of another people group, and expressly are giving them things they need so they don't have to change their own culture???"

      Because they aren't just offering help. They are there to convert people- people who ALREADY have religions of their own. The church wants more members and more power- they decided missionaries were the best way to conquer new countries/regions.

      October 28, 2010 at 3:41 am |
    • Peace2All

      @wisey

      Shhhhhhhhhh...!!! That is a big no-no with the fundamentalists, as they don't want you seeing 'behind the curtain' to know their true motives.

      October 28, 2010 at 3:48 am |
    • Otter

      People are amazing. Presented with a technical achievement beyond their comprehension, they start debating religion instead.

      BTW, "End of The Spear" was an awesome (true) story.

      October 28, 2010 at 8:54 am |
    • wisey

      "People are amazing. Presented with a technical achievement beyond their comprehension, they start debating religion instead."

      ...a technical achievement used to force a religion on people. You act like it is an unrelated topic. It isn't.

      October 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • Katie

      Derek, as the daughter of missionaries I just wanted to let you know that you are mistaken. My parents have worked most of their lives in medical missions. They have never coerced anyone into becoming a Christian or joining the church. Their goal has been to meet people's physical needs and to tell them about Jesus. But never was medical help withheld from non-Christians and never was hearing about God obligatory for receiving medical services. The many missionaries I have known truly love and care for the people they help. This love is not contingent on the people's conversion.

      October 29, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
    • Some_Truth

      Katie,

      I applaud your parents and those like them who help these people survive. Their humanitarianism is wonderful.

      What is not wonderful, however, is dazzling and amazing these naive, superst!tious, unsophisticated people with 'miracles' derived from science and technology, such as antibiotics, flying cars, better agricultural practices or cell phones, etc., and then propounding that because they have all these 'miracles' and are so smart and advanced, that Jesus (or Allah, or whatever being they are evangelizing for) is also true. It is no more true than the natives' tree spirits, or whatever they have previously worshiped.

      October 29, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.