Thursday, May 30, 2019

Missionary Month End of the Spear

End of the Spear (2005)
I knew that the missionaries of 2005’s End of the Spear were likely to earn our highest rating of Four Steeples. The film tells the story of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian, five missionaries who tried to reach Waodani people deep in the Ecuadorian rainforest and the aftermath of the missionaries' deaths.

Years ago I read their story in Through Gates of Splendor, written in 1957 by Elisabeth Elliot, the widow of Jim Elliot. After Jim and the others were speared by Waodani tribesmen, Elisabeth and Nate Saint’s sister Rachel went to live with the Waodani people in order to show God’s love for them. Their examples of love and self-sacrifice have long been an inspiration to me.

Told from the perspective of Nate Saint's son, Steve (who was a child when his father was killed) and Mincayani, the Waodani man who killed Nick Saint, the film tells the story of friendship that developed between the two.

It's not just that, though. The film makes a point of telling why the missionaries wanted to contact the Waodani at the time they did. The tribe was quite violent, attacking any and all outsiders, as well as fighting among themselves to the point that the tribe was nearing extinction. Ecuador's government was considering taking action. The missionaries decided to reach the people quickly while there was still an opportunity.

They used their plane (which the Waodani called a “wood bee”) to drop off gifts in the remote village, and eventually landed their plane on the bank of the river nearby. Men from the tribe met the missionaries when they landed and attacked, killing all five. Life Magazine did a pictorial spread on the deaths, bringing world attention, but the families of the victims remained to serve the tribe and show God’s love.

The people of the tribe asked why the missionaries hadn't defended themselves. They had guns. They could easily have overpowered the men with spears. Rachel Saint was asked, “Why didn’t the wood bee men shoot us?”

She responded, “They came to tell you Waengongi has a Son. He was speared, but He didn’t spear back so the people spearing Him would one day live well.”

The missionaries (both the murdered and their families) did bring peace to a warring tribe. The film itself is a little cheesy, the music is sappy, and some of the acting is wooden. (Bonus for animal lovers, though: the film has monkeys, parrots, and bats.) But we're writing about the clergy in the film, and I guessed right going in.

As anticipated, the missionaries of End of the Spear earned 4 Steeples.

Every Tribe Entertainment

Monkeys, bats

Can the human heart be changed?

1943 Amazon Basin, Ecuador

Fierceness of Wydonee tribe had brought them to the edge of extinction

I’ve always loved making things with my hands

Their violence was a trap, a prison they couldn’t escape from.

Melanistic leopard

“Maycani is kissing the jaguar”

Will you use your guns? We can’t shoot them

How long until the monkeys get saved.

Anger at missing parrot

We must spear them.

*“Why didn’t the wood bee men shoot us?” “They came to tell you Waengongi has a Son. He was speared, but He didn’t spear back. So the people spearing Him, would one day live well.”

Kimo has fallen under a spell. Just look at his face, every day a spirit possesses you more.

They are all spirits.

The sting ray poisoned you.

“There are some things you never forget.” “You’re right, he’s a boy.”

I follow Waengongi’s carvings, I walk in His Trail.

Polio plague

Kimo used to be a great warrior

Kimo saves girl from great snake

It’s important to do what’s in your heart, Steven.

I hope you will see you are in Waengongi’s place. And we will become sincere friends.

Wadoni Territory - Aunt Rachel died

My wife and children have never lived in the jungle.

Why not live where your family is buried.

Are you not our family?

I saw them, your father saw them too. Your father was a special man. I saw him jump the Great Boa while he was still alive. I speared your father.

My father lost his life at the end of the spear.

Mincayani and his family, Steve and his family

Half of profits of film to indigenous peoples

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