The Story is the Star of 'End of the Spear'
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - I write this column today as a very conflicted Christian. I am torn by the controversy swirling around the new movie “End of the Spear” which finished eighth at the box office last weekend with $4.2 million in ticket sales. It is the story of five missionaries killed by a band of murderous Ecuadorian tribesmen in 1956 and the tribe’s subsequent conversion. Designed to be a film highlighting the triumph of Christ’s love in a time of tragedy, it has instead had to endure the protest of hundreds of evangelicals due to the casting of a gay actor in the lead role.
Despite garnering rave reviews from sometimes insensitive movie critics and the support of thousands of evangelical organizations nationwide, blogger Jason Janz pointed out on his Web site sharperiron.org on January 13th, that actor Chad Allen, is not only gay, but is an outspoken activist in advancing the mainstream acceptance of homosexuality in society. The blog has triggered a great deal of debate over whether it is acceptable for a Christian production company to cast a gay activist in the role of a missionary martyr. Furthermore, it begs the question; will the film serve as platform for Allen to promote the gay agenda?
At first glance, it appears the easy answer to this dilemma for Christians is to not see the movie. It is a means to protest Every Tribe Entertainment’s apparently callous casting of an actor who stands in direct conflict of biblical precepts. However, I believe this is an issue that is a bit grayer than most. While I am a firm believer that it is our biblical responsibility to confront a fellow believer when he has been swept up in fault as Janz points out on his Web site, I am also reticent to pass judgment until I have explored the issue from all angles.
For example, Every Tribe Entertainment President Bill Ewing told WorldNetDaily last week, “We know the character and the actor are not the same. The story is the star.”
In the same article Steve Saint, whose father Allen portrays said, “I thought, ‘What happens if I stand before God someday and He says to me, “Steve, I went out of my way to orchestrate an opportunity for Chad Allen to see what it would be like to live as your father did.’” And then I would picture Him looking at me and saying, ‘Steve, why did you mess with my plan?’”
Just three weeks ago I sat in a small television studio with Steve Saint. With Steve that day was Mincaye, one of the tribesmen who actually killed his father. I listened in great awe and admiration as Steve, then Mincaye, described in great detail the compelling events that led not only to his father’s death, but the courageous decision for several of the missionary wives to go back into the jungle to minister to the same tribe, and ultimately the remarkable transformation of these savage people to Jesus Christ. My eyes glistened as I witnessed the tenderness in the relationship between Steve and Mincayani. But most importantly I heard Mincaye say that despite the horrific events of his past he had learned to walk ‘God’s trail’. He is changed forever! There was not a dry eye in the room. The entire crew agreed it was the most powerful interview we had ever conducted for CBN.com.
“End of the Spear” writer and director Jim Hanlon also told WorldNetDaily, “We do not agree with Chad over homosexuality. ‘End of the Spear’ is not about Chad Allen, but rather it’s about remarkable people who lived their faith against all odds, and dared to reach out at the cost of their lives.”
Yes, Chad Allen is a homosexual man who promotes the gay agenda. Did Every Tribe Entertainment err in their decision to cast Allen in the lead? No one but God knows the answer to this. But as Ewing has so succinctly pointed out, the star of this movie is the story not Chad Allen.
The events chronicled in “End of the Spear” are a true reflection of Acts 1:8. This passage of scripture says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Nate Saint, Jim Elliott, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian, desperately wanted to share their faith and experiences with those who had never ever heard the redemptive message of Jesus Christ. They were willing to give up their lives by offering God’s love and provision to others and teaching them the joys of following after Christ. Today, the Waodani are a changed people forever.
The main purpose of “End of the Spear” is to unveil this same message to a movie-going audience who, like the Waodani tribe, may have never seen the story of Christ’s love told in such a real, sacrificial manner. Let us not lose sight of that.
If we believe that we should not watch entertainment that features gay actors and actresses then I would suggest you remove the television(s) from your home and cancel your Broadway show tickets right now.
Do not misunderstand, I am truly disappointed by Every Tribe Entertainment's decision in casting Allen. However, I guess I am blinded by the greater good I see coming from this film.
I think Steve Saint captured the essence of this debate best when he suggested it is not our place to alter what may be God’s plan to win a hardened gay activist and others like him to Christ. Only God has that right.
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