END OF THE SPEAR

4 Stars - INSPIRING

The sacrificial love of Jesus Christ compels His people to go into all the world and love as He loved.  This love often takes His people into dangerous regions where their message is either not understood or where other traditions have a longer-standing hold over the people.  This was true of the missionaries who went into the Ecuadorian jungles in 1956 and attempted to reach the Waodani people.  Jim Hanon's "End of the Spear" is the cinematic presentation of both their sacrifice and the ultimate victory of God's love.

The Waodani were Amazon tribes that had created a culture of revenge and death.  Like many cultures of the world, their lives were caught in a vicious cycle of vengeance as each generation of warriors would avenge the deaths of their fathers or families by killing those who had speared them.  With their vengeful and swift form of justice that demanded immediate taking of human life, the Waodani had reached the point of near extinction.  Fearing that they would completely destroy themselves, five young missionary families attempted to make contact and teach them of God's love as well as His teaching of forgiveness.

The ensemble cast of this film includes not only the five missionaries and their families, but also the Waodani and their families.  It is a film that presents decades of their interactions and the effects these had upon them, illustrating that the transformation of a culture as well as a life takes time.  The central characters are the missionary pilot, Nate Saint (Chad Allen) and the tribal leader of the Waodani, Mincayani (Louie Leonardo).  Central to the victory over the cycle of vengeance are the women of both the Waodani tribes and the missionary families.

Without being either preachy or obvious, the film takes us through the sacrifice given by the missionary families and the effect it had upon the Waodani.  The supernatural power of God is present in the moments of sacrifice as well as in the powerful transformation of this vengeful culture.  One of the most moving scenes in the film is when Mincayani confesses to Nate's son Steve (also played by Chad Allen) that he is the murderer of his father and offers himself to be killed.  When Steve will not respond with violence, the use of the spear truly comes to an end.

While viewing the film, do not miss the final scenes during the credits when the real Mincayani and the real Steve are talking.  Their love for one another is obvious, and the point is made that for the first time in Waodani history, there are now grandfathers in the tribe as the cycle of violence has been replaced with the love of Christ.  It is our hope that this message will communicate to the outwardly more sophisticated cultures that nevertheless seek vengeance in an endless cycle of war.

 

Discussion:

  1. When it is discovered that it was a lie that was told by two tribal members to save their own lives that caused the deaths of the missionaries, it affirms the truth that sin hurts most the innocent among us.  Have you ever been an innocent person harmed by another's sins?  What sacrifice did it require of you?  Did you forgive as Nate and Steve forgave Mincayani?
  2. The fortunate polio epidemic actually opened the door for compassion and for the two Waodani tribes to help one another.  Have you ever had an illness or difficulty that brought about good?  How?
  3. The need for the people of our world to stop trusting in the spear or the sword or the missile to bring about peace is necessary in all human cultures.  What are you doing to help stop the cycle of violence?
  4. When the five missionaries flew to meet the Waodani, do you believe they were foolish or wise, under God's guidance or not?  Could this tribe have been transformed without their ultimate sacrifice?
  5. If you had been one of the missionary wives or children, would you have stayed and given your life to minister God's love to the Waodani?  What would you have done?
Posted on July 7, 2007 and filed under 4 STARS, INSPIRING.