November 19, 2017

Review: End of the Spear

endspear.jpgEvery Tribe Entertainment’s End of the Spear easily tops my list of movies that convey the meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the truth about what it means to follow Christ, the true struggles of the Christian life and the transforming, missional hope of Jesus for all persons.

End of the Spear surpasses movies like The Passion of the Christ and Chariots of Fire with a sophisticated and beautiful retelling of the story of the conversion of the Waorani people through the missionary efforts of the five Ecuadoran martyrs, and their families. Retelling the story through the dual eyes of a Waorani tribesman and the son of the man he speared to death, the movie has abundant moments that portray the gospel with passion, gentleness and true power.

The film relies on the acting talents of unknowns- many appearing to be Indians- and the casting of Chad Allen as missionary pilot/martyr Nate Saint and his son, Steve. The film steadily moves forward from one crisis moment to another, culminating in the two men, murderer and son of the victim, alone in the river, discovering the truth together.

The film is beautifully filmed, professionally acted and with few exceptions, is entertaining and interesting for every minute. The struggle of the Waorani to accept a way of life that renounces the way of the spear for the way of the Christ is conveyed with incredible empathy and earnestness by Louis Leonardo’s Mincayani.

The portrayal of missionaries is particularly skillful, as the movie very naturally communicates the motivations of the missionaries to evangelize these people, but also shows that the Waorani were also in need of an “intervention” before outsiders sent in troops to stop the violence of the region. The missionaries commitment to living with these people, and sharing their sufferings is a wonderful statement of their commitment to Christ. The movie is never “preachy” or intrusive. I believe any audience would feel that they were watching something wonderful, even if they did not share the beliefs of the missionaries.

The deaths of the Ecuador five are shown in gruesome, agonizing detail, underlining Steve Saint’s recent words that all that happened that day was under the sovereign plan of God. Knowing that these men were armed, but willingly died, will affect every viewer. The determination of the missionaries to not harm those who they seek to love, even if it means dying, is a profound witness of the suffering of Christ for a violent world. You will not be unaffected.

This is a film that speaks deeply to a world of terrorists, warmongers, gang-bangers and all those who trust in revenge and violence to make a way in the world. This film shows another way. The way of one who was speared and did not spear back; it shows the trail of a God who left his carvings upon the hearts of violent men, changing them to persons who could love, forgive and be family.

Living in a Christian school that was founded to end the Eastern Kentucky feuds of a century ago, I identified with the mission and the message. I have to say that I hope the film transcends the ridiculous controversy regarding Chad Allen’s homosexuality, and is seen by millions. It is a presentation of the Gospel that is deeply inspiring and I hope thousands of young people see it.

Upon leaving the theater, my wife said it made her ill to think that pastors were telling people to boycott End of the Spear. My son- not easily impressed, I assure you- said the film easily surpassed the brutality and bluntness of the Passion as a presentation of the Gospel. Whatever flaws may be found in the film- and there are some obvious traces of a freshman effort- it was riveting, entertaining, faithful to a great story and overflowing with the presence of Jesus Christ.

Ignore the boycotters. Go see End of the Spear.