As I read through all that has been written by fellow believers recently concerning the End of the Spear controversy about Mart Green’s hiring of Chad Allen to play Nate/Steve Saint, I felt an incredible sadness.
How could this story, which I have been told my whole life has been used by God for so much good, be at the center of so much disagreement between people who love and serve the same God?
I’m not writing this because I claim to have the answer to that question—because I don’t—but I am writing to encourage each of us as believers to keep an open mind and an open heart and to not make up our minds too quickly on what God has in mind here. I was too young when my dad died—not quite 4 years old—to remember the Christian world’s initial reaction when the five men were killed. But I heard from my Mom, aunts, uncles and grandparents over the years. I’m sure some of you remember that besides being saddened, there were many Christians who felt that it was a terrible waste of human life. There were those who were concerned that it would hinder missionary work worldwide because they thought that young people would be hesitant to go overseas and risk their lives, fearful that what happened to the five men might happen to them.
To me, that seems like a very legitimate concern. Anyone who loves the Lord and wants to see the Gospel taken to “the ends of the earth” would be concerned if they thought the wasted lives of five missionaries would make it harder to find others willing to go.
While I’m sure there are still those who think it was a needless waste of life, most of us would agree that it did not set missionary work back.
I believe that God actually planned what most initially saw as a “terrible waste” of human life and used it to inspire thousands of people around the world to commit their lives to Him. In fact, one of my mom’s greatest comforts for the rest of her life after my dad died was hearing from people who dedicated their lives to Christ specifically because of the five men’s willingness to die for Him.
But still our initial reaction when things don’t go like we think they should tends to be one of dismay, shock and questioning.
My mother always felt genuine, heartfelt support from the worldwide Christian community. But still, there were questions like “How could this happen?” to “What did they do wrong?”, especially during the time right after the incident happened before our human eyes could see evidence of God’s wisdom.
Did the five men make mistakes that cost them their lives? I’m sure that they made a number of decisions that others may have considered mistakes, even irresponsible. For example, if they would have known the Waorani language better and understood that Gimade wanted them to take her to see Dayumas, then they would have taken her to see that her sister was alive. Things very well could have turned out differently. Anyone could come up with a list of things that they could have done differently, and possibly better.
But now, as we look back with the benefit of 50 years of seeing how God used their sacrifice—some might still say “used their mistakes”—to accomplish far more than they ever dreamed could happen, whether or not they made “mistakes” is not what matters. What matters is simply that they tried to do God’s will. They tried to do what they believed with all of their heart that God wanted them to do.
My dad only knew that God was calling him to try to reach the Waorani (Aucus). He did not know that God would have him die and that He would use that death far beyond what he (my dad) ever imagined.
So now, 50 years later, Mart Green has brought that story to the screen. His purpose in doing this was to try to influence our culture toward Christ.
I have known Mart for almost four years now and know him to be a devoted Christian. His life is guided by prayer and directed by reading the Bible. I consider myself fortunate to have been raised by a godly mother, to have been influenced by godly aunts, uncles, and grandparents, and to have had contact with—and been taught and influenced by—countless Christian men and women as a child in Ecuador and later as an adult here in the States. Mart has the same love for our Heavenly Father and for people and lives his life by the same biblical standards that I have been taught my whole life.
That is not to say he is perfect—we are all born sinners—or that he couldn’t have sinned while producing this movie, or that while he sincerely attempted to follow God’s calling he couldn’t have made some mistakes. We have all done both. If you are like me, you have done a lot of both.
But we need to be very careful before we decide that Mart’s action constitutes sin. God is the judge of that. We also need to be very careful about assuming that just because something wasn’t done the way that we think it should be done, that it was a mistake. What you and I view as a mistake may well be part of Almighty God’s plan.
Mart made this movie hoping that it would influence people toward Christ. He had young people specifically in mind. Could it be that God had more planned for this movie than Mart ever imagined when he committed his time, energy, heart and resources to this project almost 8 years ago? Maybe the Good Lord has a plan for this movie that far exceeds what Mart planned and prayed for. (Some of you may have heard that E.O.T.S. played before a packed house at the United Nations last week—an opportunity that E.T.E. certainly didn’t anticipate—but that somehow came up.)
I would never be so presumptuous to claim any particular insight on what God has in mind, but we need to be equally careful not to overlook or minimize what our incredible God might have in the works.
My dad and the other four men hoped simply to influence a group of what has been estimated to be around 400-500 people toward Christ. They had no idea what all God had in mind.
Could it be that God decided to use Mart Green and E.T.E. not only to influence young people to dedicate their lives to Christ, but to influence political leaders from around the world? Could it be that God is going to use E.O.T.S. in ways which we still don’t recognize to show His love to the gay community?
Could it be that our loving Heavenly Father is using Mart Green and E.T.E. in ways far beyond what Mart originally planned, just like he did with those five men 50 years and 5 weeks ago?
Of course God can do whatever He wants and accomplish all that He needs in spite of or without any of us. I know there are those who are already convinced that this is the case here. That is something that each of us needs to decide prayerfully on our own.
There is an awful lot in this life that I am not sure about, but there is one thing of which I have the greatest confidence. One day all of us who are fortunate enough to have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior will be able to sit together and listen as the Creator of the universe lovingly tells us about His master plan that He conceived before time began and that will continue forevermore. His incredible plan that is centered on Calvary includes the story my dad was a part, Mart Green’s story at E.T.E., and Jason Janz’s story at Sharperiron, and each and everyone of our stories as we faithfully try to walk His trail.
What a glorious day that will be. As I get older and it draws nearer, I get more and more enthusiastic about it. Until that great day comes, I will be ever so grateful that God used my father’s sacrifice for His glory and that He entrusted the retelling of that story to Mart Green, Bill Ewing, Jim Hanon and the rest of the godly people at Every Tribe Entertainment.
God bless you,