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Movie Night: End of the Spear

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I just saw a fantastic film last night: End of the Spear. My wife and I cried and my children were moved as we watched the true story based on the lives of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, and three other missionaries who made contact with the ultra-violent Waodani tribe in Ecuador and became martyrs—yet there’s more to the story!

Because of necessary non-gratuitous violence and partial native nudity, it’s rated PG-13. The acting is great, the story compelling, but more importantly, this account glorifies Christ in a non-traditional, non-preachy, non-Christianese way. Even an unbeliever will like it! Forget about the casting controversy and rent it.

Read the review from Plugged In Online:

Deep in the heart of the jungles of Ecuador, along the Amazon River basin, the Waodani Indians are murdering each other to the point of near-extinction. Tribal conflicts (internal and external) have led to a staggering 60 percent mortality rate, and the average Waodani male lives to be just over 30 years old. In response, the Ecuadorian government plans to send in troops to stop the killings and “reclaim” the land, essentially wiping out the Waodani.

It’s the early 1950s and Nate Saint, along with four other young American Christian missionaries, sense the urgency of this crisis and set out to befriend the Waodani people. Read the rest of the review here.

19 Comments

  1. Sadly, other critics were less than kind to the movie. There’s actually a story to tell here, but it looks like End of the Spear failed to really tell it.

    Your persecution complex was satisfied, I’m sure.

  2. Fireproof got good reviews in the New York Times (the NY Times!), Variety and Hollywood Reporter.

  3. I wasn’t being critical, I was going by what the critics said.

    Yeah, surprising that biased critics like Focus on the Family will cut a Christian movie more slack than more neutral ones.

  4. My boys and I saw this excellent film when it first came out. The climax line from the film about Nick Saint’s life was not taken but that he gave his life for the mission is an example of extraordinary God-given commitment and faith. It is symbolic of the love that Jesus Christ showed in laying down his life at the cross on Calvary for us sinners.

    In addition Jim Eliot’s (also killed that day) famous quote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” shows that these missionaries fully understood the cost and further underscores this commitment and faith that all Christians should have.

    Psalm 116:15 — Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.

  5. Eh you can be critical of Steve, Garrett its your right, but I’d watch the movie before making a final judgement on it. Rotten tomatoes is a good indicator of critical consensus on movies, its making a 39%, which usually means its got flaws but it still somewhat entertaining. I usually steer clear of anything that is making below 20%. I think the only movie I enjoyed that had a ‘Christian’ message was Book of Eli. But I find the movie is odd that the King James Bible is the only true word of God apparently.

  6. Saw the movie, it’s been a few years since it came out, but I remember being disappointed that the gospel wasn’t abundantly clear. Seemed to present more of a social gospel feed the hungry type message (social gospel) that a pagan wandering into the theater wouldn’t be able to get saved from. But otherwise I thought it was a great story…

  7. I finally watched that movie a few years ago on DVD and really liked it. It is worth the watch and is definitely moving.

  8. Hey Steve, I’ve not seen “End of the Spear” but I would highly recommend the documentary “Beyond the Gates of Splendor.” It’s a movie length documentary about the missionaries and events that “End of the Spear” was based on.

    The beauty of the documentary is that it contains interviews with the missionary family, old videos and pictures that were actually captured at the time before and after the death of the men, and it contains interviews (translated) from the Waodani people themselves.

    My intentions was to watch this documentary and then watch the movie. However the documentary was so powerful, I didn’t really care to see Hollywood’s spin on it.

    Although I’m sure the movie itself is good, there something very powerful about seeing the missionary son giving testimony about being baptized in the same river that his dad was murdered in by the same man that was baptizing him.

    I rented the DVD from NetFlix.

  9. I seem to remember it being pretty weak on the gospel. It was disappointing that they could show “angels” but not preach the gospel. I think people who were martyred for the gospel deserve a better representation.

  10. Hey Steve, I just found the documentary on Hulu. It’s ad supported, but it’s free, instant, and the quality is great. Here is the link:
    http://www.hulu.com/watch/144531/beyond-the-gates-of-splendor

    Along a similar line, if you have not watched EE-Taow. Check it out. It’s the story of a missionary who went into a tribe of people who had never heard anything about God, let alone the Gospel of Christ. The missionary lived with the people for a long period of time learning the language before starting to teach. Once he started, it took several months to teach through the Bible starting with Genesis and up to the resurrection of Christ. If you are not familiar with the story, I’ll not spoil it for you. If you have time, you can watch it at the following link. It will bless you.
    http://vimeo.com/9329683

    • Chris, thanks for the rec. I saw EE-Taow years ago and thought it was great!Two of my favorite books, in regard to this subject, are Peace Child and Lords of the Earth by Don Richardson. The suspense he creates is wonderful.

  11. It’s a great movie about a great event which God has used mightily over the years since.
    I feel privileged to know Jim Elliot and his entire family well when I was a small boy. He and the other four were the genuine article.
    Jim once said, “Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know such an extraordinary God.”
    May God bless you and your ministry.

  12. I watched the movie Steve, there were subtle messages, though a few were rather obvious, specially towards the end (Don’t want to spoil it). I found it interesting when Dayumae said that their God, or rather the word for God in their language had a son, I’m assuming Jesus? The exchange was odd, did she mean Yaweh? I’m not sure how relevant that would be to a isolated tribal who knows nothing of Middle Eastern history. I found the movie more engaging when the women managed to integrate themselves into the tribe as opposed to the technique employed by the men. I found the end confrontation a little, well out of left field, when Mincaye gave his account of what happened. I couldn’t help but feel they should have been more cautious when going into an area that was suffering from a brutal tribal war. The goal wasn’t to be martyred, in fact, it was to reach the people and try and civilize them so the local government wouldn’t just wipe them out. The massacre could have quite easily resulted in that final solution, so to speak. Anyways its always good to see people uplifted out of a state of primitive superstition, and I found the scene where the tribe and the missionaries are learning about each other’s cultures and even beginning to change and move towards peace, eventually after prolonged periods of violence the cycle will break, as the people will get sick of all the violence.

    • That’s great! Glad you saw it. I thought it was very well done. Most Christian themed movies are just plain awful. They definitely sort-peddled the message in this one, probably so that they might get a larger audience. What they didn’t show or tell was that the man who killed Steve Saint’s father, Nate, actually led Steve to become a believer, and then actually baptized him. Wow! Ironic or what?

  13. I’ve seen a few Christian movies, I think the last one was Time Changer, which I regarded as awful. Far too often Steve, Christian movies aren’t subtle, and are far too preachy. Just like in real life, people don’t appreciate being told how to think, act, or believe, whether it be conversation or watching a movie. Hence why many Christian movies don’t get good reviews. By contrast, some of the worst episodes of Star Trek are the ones where the characters preach their ideologies as superior to others, so it isn’t just picking on Christians. This movie was subtle when it came to the message, but it did have a few basic movie making flaws. The attack and the killing of a baby right off the bat seemed a little too gratuitous and didn’t have a good build up to the attack to really make the audience empathize with the people being slaughtered. And also, I’m not surprised the tribe adopted Christianity, often times when there is a clash of cultures, the technologically superior one wins out. The missionaries brought modern equipment, supplies, and technology with them for the tribe, and greatly improved their standard of living by the end of the movie, its only natural that they’d drift away from their beliefs and ways of life and adopt those of the ‘superior’ culture. The same thing happened to many Native Americans during the early days of America, they’d either convert and join a more modern culture by choice, or in many cases… by force.

  14. This is the first Christian movie I watched after repentance and faith. This movie blew me away with the spiritual message of obedience and sacrifice. I am interested in the reactions from the un-believers 1Cor 2:14. This is still my number one got to movie. I also like much of Christianos films.

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