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?"