The item comes from martyred missionary pilot Nate Saint's Piper
PA-14, which is on display at the headquarters of Mission Aviation
Fellowship in Nampa, Idaho. Saint and four other missionaries were
martyred on a sandbar in Ecuador on Jan. 8, 1956, by a tribe of
The incident sparked international news coverage
and renewed interest in missionary service. Several of the tribesmen
who killed Saint and the others were later converted to Christianity
by relatives of the slain missionaries.
"Bringing attention to and renewing interest in missions would be
a great result of this experience," said Forrester, who was born in
El Paso, Texas, the year after the martyrdoms. "My deepest intent is
to honor Nate Saint, the Saint family and all missionaries around
The piece is from the Piper's battery box and has received
approval for the flight from the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration after conforming to strict size and weight
Forrester, who will be making his third shuttle flight, has
logged more than 4,500 hours in more than 50 different aircraft and
has been with NASA 16 years. In addition to his time at NASA, he
spent over 26 years as an Army aviator. Yet his dream has been to
assist with the high calling of missionary aviation.
"I've always had a heart for missions," Forrester said. "When I
visualize what I might do after I end my career at NASA, always in
the back of my mind is going into the mission field in some way. If
I could go tomorrow and be a pilot with an organization like MAF, I
think that's what I'd do."
Whether you are an astronaut, a missionary or something else,
Forrester has a simple approach to discovering what career journey
you should take. "There are so many needs out there," Forrester
said. "People need to figure out where their passion and their
talents intersect with God's plan for the world."
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Forrester heard about Saint and the other four missionary martyrs
while attending a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. "He told the story
of the missionaries who had gone down and had lost their lives,"
Forrester recalled. "That story just fascinated me, and through that
I heard of the book 'Through the Gates of Splendor.' That's when I
really first understood about MAF."
Forrester asked MAF to provide a part of Saint's plane for the
shuttle mission. When the mission is completed, Forrester will
return the piece to MAF, providing a certificate confirming its
presence on the space flight. MAF plans to display the battery box
part and certificate at its headquarters. Forrester noted that Saint
"could have never imagined that we would have the opportunity to
take it to a space station."
As for himself, Forrester sees missions in his career flight
plan. "We are all called to serve God in some manner," Forrester
said. "I have had the opportunity to participate in several
short-term mission trips to Uganda, Canada, Puerto Rico and South
Africa. Each time I have developed a heart for the people we served.
I believe my wife and I will continue to serve in the mission field
for the rest of our lives -- whether it is at home or overseas,
short-term or full time."
Mission Aviation Fellowship was
founded in the U.S. in 1945. MAF missionary teams of aviation,
communications, technology and education specialists overcome
barriers in remote areas, transform lives and build God's Kingdom by
enabling the work of more than 1,000 organizations in isolated areas
of the world. With its fleet of 130 bush aircraft, MAF serves in 55
countries, with an average of 242 flights daily across Africa, Asia,
Eurasia and Latin America. MAF pilots transport missionaries,
medical personnel, medicines and relief supplies, as well as conduct
thousands of emergency medical evacuations in remote areas. MAF also
provides telecommunications services, such as satellite Internet
access, high-frequency radios, electronic mail and other wireless
[Text from file received from