Friday, February 10, 2006

Grace at the "End of the Spear"

Last week I took our entire church staff to see the new movie, End of the Spear. It is the story of Mincayani who was born into the most violent society ever documented by anthropologists, the Waodani in the eastern rainforests of Ecuador. As he grows he learns what every Waodani understands, he must spear and live or he will be speared and die. Mincayani’s world changes when he and his family kill five missionaries, Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian. This incident propels Mincayani’s family group down an extraordinary path that culminates in them not only departing from violence, but caring for the enemy tribe they had once violently raided.

Nate Saint’s son, Steve, was a boy when his father and friends were killed. He returns to the Waodani as an adult and finally learns from Mincayani what happened during the last minutes of his father’s life. Together Mincayani and Steve find that what his father had accomplished in his death gave them both a new life and Steve’s family becomes part of Mincayani’s family.

Nate Saint graduated from Wheaton College in 1946. His son, Steve, was born in 1951. It was 1956 when the 5 missionary men were speared to death by the very people they were trying to reach. The movie was a very powerful and dramatic portrayal of these events as seen through the eyes of Steve Saint, son of martyred missionary, Nate Saint. Some Christians struggle with the movie due to the lifestyle choices of some of the actors involved, so each believer must decide for himself or herself if they are comfortable going to see it. But for me, and I believe all of our staff who went to view this movie, it had an impact on our lives.

There were many parts of the movie that spoke directly to me, but the one that captivated me the most was the conversation between Nate Saint and his young son, Steve, as Nate prepares to fly off to make contact with this group of people who were known and feared for their senseless violence. Little Steve asks his dad if he gets into trouble would he use his gun? Would he protect himself? I’m thinking . . . “You bet I would . . . in a heartbeat.” But Nate’s answer is gripping. He says to his son, “We can’t shoot them. They aren’t ready for heaven. We are.”

So by the end of the movie I had to grapple with many questions. Would I chose to die knowing that I am ready for heaven if the choice were between my dying or someone else dying who did not know the Lord? When was the last time I was impassioned to reach lost people, even the most violent of them, with the good news of Christ? I don’t just mean the ones in Ecuador. What about the lost people that are far less violent but just as lost in my neighborhood and in my city? When was the last time I took any risk at all for the sake of the Gospel?

Martyred missionary Jim Elliot was right when he wrote, “He is no fool who gives up that which cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

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