Friday, January 20, 2006

End of the Spear

Thanks to an invite from a connected friend, I was able to see End of the Spear at a sneak screening late last fall. I talked it up, because it is a great movie, but I decided to wait until the opening was nigh to splash it on my blog. Oddly enough, I’ve been blogless for the week of the opening. No doubt anyone reading my site already knows about the movie, but I feel bad nonetheless.
There are several reasons I’ve not put finger to keyboard this week, but one of the reasons is that I wanted to talk about this movie. So when I sat down at the computer early in the week to do it, I came across numerous venomous spewings aimed at the movie. I can’t quite put my finger on why they’ve upset me so much, except that the attacks went way beyond disapproval of the movie, and yet had so very little to do with the movie itself. Attacks on the movie have been made by people who have not seen the movie, and therefore haven’t a clear understanding of what the movie intended and accomplished. Personal attacks on Steve Saint by people who do not know him, have never met him, and have no idea how he has devoted his life, and what a difference he’s made. It is rare to meet a person who has a heart for hearts and who devotes his life to them, but when you do, you connect in a way that causes attacks on the person to feel like attacks on your self; and in a way they are, when you share a passion and so fully support what someone is about.

A couple years ago, I heard Steve Saint speak 5 times in week, hung around with him and had dinner with him, and Mincaye, the central character of the movie. This had a huge impact on me – to hear him leak his passion, share his methods, tell stories of lives changed. To have shared a meal with a tribal warrior who once knew only, “kill or be killed” and has been made a new creation, impacted me deeply.

Steve Saint commented recently that the theater was the place where people’s “cultural hearts” are opened, and that new trends start in our society there. To me, this seems apt, because that is what this movie is about - cultural hearts having been changed and new trends in a society, a society that has become gospel-driven rather than revenge-driven. I thought of the words of Jesus, "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth'. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." These are the people Jesus was talking to in Matthew 5. Here is Jesus' teaching applied.

Steve’s comment was one of the points used by the critics to spear him with comments like, “Steve, are we out to start new cultural trends or see souls saved from hell?”
It seems that these critics spewing vitriol would have it that the movie consist of the 5 missionaries standing on a sand bar in Ecuador, preaching “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God” to a tribal culture that doesn’t understand a word of what the missionaries are saying.
But this is not a movie about the missionaries, it is not a movie about the preaching of the Gospel. It is a movie about what the sharing of the Gospel accomplishes in an entire culture. It is a movie about the Gospel having changed lives of those who heard it and believed. It is the story of an entire culture changing course from having been exposed to the saving love and grace of Jesus.
As a matter of fact, Mincaye, after hearing about the Columbine incident, expressed the desire to make this movie so that the foreigners (Americans) would see how to stop killing and live well and learn forgiveness.
It amazes me that the gospel can be brought into a revenge-based, stone-age tribal culture and change a people completely. But those in our own culture who claim to be children of the gospel, spear one another in the back at every turn in the name of a gift that was given us undeservedly. We have much to learn from the changes the gospel has brought about in people and the new cultural trends that have resulted.

This is a movie about redemption and changed lives and forgiveness, the affects of the gospel, the meaning of the gospel.
Please don’t miss this movie. You will be inspired, warmed, moved, motivated…