Tuesday, September 5

Steve Saint's "End of the Spear"

Last week I finished reading Steve Saint's remarkable book, End of the Spear. This past weekend our family watched the movie theater version on DVD. While the two bear the same title, I found they are really separate works. There is some overlap, but the narrative in each goes down separate paths.

The book was so captivating it was hard to put down. I found it to be a powerful and moving narrative. All my life I have grown up and lived with the story of the five missionaries killed by the Waodani (formerly known as "Aucas") in the eastern jungles of Ecuador. What is so interesting about "End of the Spear" is that the book fills in many of the gaps between the deaths of the five missionaries all the way up to the near present. What God has done over the years is truly a remarkable story. The book shares such details as Steve and his sister Kathy being baptized by the very men who killed their father. It also talks about Steve moving his own family to live with the Waodani and their experiences living in their midst. There are plenty of surprises in this book that make it an interesting read, even for those who are familiar with the story. I love the way Steve helps us enter into the mind and culture of the Waodani to see things from their perspective. Many of the questions that have lingered in peoples minds about what really happened are answered in "End of the Spear."

The movie version was also great. My personal impression is that its intention is to reach an audience not familiar with the story. I even sensed it was more directed toward a non-Christian audience. It wouldn't surprise me that this was Steve's intent in making this secular movie version in the first place. "End of the Spear" is such a powerful story of love for the Waodani and forgiveness that it would certainly appeal to a much broader secular audience if given a chance. I do pray that many non-believers will view this movie. I personally felt the movie did a great job at getting across the Christian message without trying to be a "Christian" movie.

If you have to choose between the book or the movie (and can't do both), go with the book. It has a lot more detail and deals with missionary life issues, Steve's personal struggles and a lot of insight into everyday events on the mission field.

Growing up in Quito, Ecuador, I went to school with several of the MKs who were speared by the Waodani back in 1956. I think I have read practically every book published on the subject, along with most of Elisabeth Elliot's books and writings on the subject over the years. Many of the names and places in these books are people and places I know personally. I am glad that this truly remarkable story has been reissued and updated for the current generations. My own life has been touched by this story in its various write-ups. In particular, Elisabeth Elliot's Shadow of the Almighty:The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot which the Lord used to affirm my own call to overseas missions.

Another must-see video/DVD is Steve Saint's documentary, Beyond The Gates of Splendor. In it are many fascinating interviews with the wives of the slain missionaries (and others), footage of the Waodani and their way of life, personal anecdotes, etc. Again, a remarkable media presentation that is very moving. I dare anyone out there to view it and not shed a tear or two!

Ken Sorrell is sending me a copy of Steve Saint's The Great Omission. I understand its focus with the issue of dependency in missions. "End of the Spear" also deals with this aspect of missions.

Have you read the book or seen the movie? What are your comments on "End of the Spear?"


Kiki Cherry said...

I haven't seen "End of the Spear", but did see "Beyond the Gates of Splendor" at a College Missions program in OKC back in Summer '03.

Steve Saint also shared, and I cried with him through the part about losing his child and still not being able to fully accept or understand why.

That whole service was the most incredible missions event I have ever attended.

abrasseau said...

I haven't been able to see the End of the Spear, also. Nor Beyond te Gates. Hope to be able to see them this November when I return to the states for a while. Thanks for mentioning the other and I will look for it also.

Anonymous said...


Great movie!

This story has touched countless numbers of people!

Olive Flemming Liefield, the widow of Pete Flemming, wrote a wonderful little book called "Unfolding Destinies" that touches what you call "missionary life issues".

Jim Berg says: "In the biblical world-view, life comes only from death." May we as he says become "skillful as dying to self."


Ken Sorrell said...


Yes, I've seen the movie, a couple of times. For Christians, especially missionaries it is a powerful visual protrayal of a very familiar story. It is a interesting look into many issues facing missionaries. I highly recommend it.

The down side of the movie is that if you are looking at using it as an evangelistic tool, you will be disappointed.

Thomas Muse said...

"I dare anyone out there to view it and not shed a tear or two!" What about buckets…..

Guy, thanks for the reminder. I, too, have lived knowing the example of the Aucas and the slain missionaries, as well as the incredible subsequent example of forgiveness, reconciliation, and how to live in the kingdom of God by the surviving wives and children.

Your post is timely (for personal reasons) and a great reminder to all of us apprenticing in the kingdom of God that it's not about a petty me-centricity but a God rooted purpose that, in many ways, has captured us completely whilst we are seeking, under His reign, to follow Christ to His glory and the good of the world.

Many thanks.

Burkhalter Ministry said...

Totally agree about the movie...great cinematography and of course the story is phenomenal. I haven't read the book...yet.

abrasseau said...

happy birthday.

Burkhalter Ministry said...

Great Movie- I also loved the books that Elizabeth Elliott wrote. I too was inspired by their story to want to go overseas for the GCommission. I have always had a fascination for Ecuador because of their books.
When I watched the movie- a random scene that really got to me was when the Indian's little girl was killed by the snake. And he said she was too young to be able to jump the boa(or something like that)
It makes me want to tell everyone about Jesus, not wanting anyone to perish without knowing Him-
Beth Burkhalter

GuyMuse said...

Thanks for all the great comments. Each is appreciated. Sorry for taking so long to respond. We just got back yesterday from a birthday trip to Cuenca up in the Andes mountains of Ecuador (see my above post.)

May the Lord continue to use this incredible story to His glory, and may many more lives be impacted as more people read these books and view the video versions.

Donald said...

I was finally able to watch this movie this past weekend. GREAT MOVIE!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well hate to be the damper on the movie I thought it was a let down myself. And there seems to be many holes in it too. For eg I knew the last of the two killers and they are both dead now, the man he walks with today has no holes in his ears and is WAY to young to been a killer. I don't know him and I lived with the tribe. The movie could have been a great outreach tool but fell short from that. It was more from the point of a woonded MK who is angry at God for taking his dad. But hey they are my points. A MK