The End of the Spear Controversy: Mart Green and Steve Saint Offer Answers
ChristianityTodayMovies.com included some excerpts from the following statements in their article. The following is the full transcript that Mart Green and Steve Saint submitted to CT movies, most of which is not in the published article.
*For more information regarding this article, read Randy Alcorn’s Thoughts on End of the Spear Controversy.
1. Was it known Chad Allen was gay before he was hired? If so, why hire him anyway? If not, why proceed with him after learning?
MART: We found out Chad was gay after we offered him the parts of both Nate Saint and Steve Saint. This was an obvious dilemma as we knew the views that Chad held and what Nate Saint/Steve Saint held dear were totally different.
Naturally I went to Steve Saint. He felt that though this is not how he would have wanted it, we should not try to break our contract. Jim Hanon and Bill Ewing sat down with Chad and had an open discussion about how we disagreed with Chad on the issue of homosexuality, but that we still loved him, and he was welcome to the cast.
We started shooting End of the Spear in January 2004. It was on February 25, 2004, that Chad Allen was on Larry King Live debating John MacArthur about the gay marriage issue. Chad was to join us in Panama just a couple of days later, as his part of the movie was about to be shot. It was a time of prayer and contemplation again as we didn’t know what to do. Should we ask Chad to step down?
If we do, we are in trouble as it affects Chad who has prepared for weeks for this part. He has passed on other job opportunities as he is in contract with us and we with him. He has two parts in the movie. We have locations in Panama that we will lose if we don’t shoot on schedule. If we do keep him, what will the faith based community think? Will they boycott the film? Will they reject the film, etc.? As you can imagine, the waves seemed to be 60 foot on both sides.
Early in this process I had been convicted by the Lord that I was wind conscious and wave conscious, but if I was to “get out of the boat” like Peter I must keep my eyes on Him. Peter was able to walk on water as long as his focus was on Jesus. Once he looked at the wind and the waves he started to sink. Thus I had an incredible peace. I was now praying for clarity. I knew that whatever decision I made it would/could have results I didn’t know how to handle.
Steve and his family along with mine, as well as, the leadership team sought the Lord with the goal to do as He was leading us no matter what the cost. Being that this was a sensitive area and I had given Steve the permission to trump a decision that was insensitive, I gave the Saint family the right to make this decision. I shared with Steve Saint who was working on the project in Panama. I then flew to Florida and Alabama where I shared with Marj Saint Van Der Puy, Ginny Saint (Steve’s wife) Shaun, Jaime and Jesse.
In the end they decided God had given me the stewardship of the story and they would trust that God was leading me. As you can imagine, this was very humbling since the decision would impact them for the rest of their lives. I called several people who knew me well and asked them for advice. They all felt God would lead me and that no matter what decision I made, they would trust I had heard from God.
I wish I were able to articulate all the things that happened which led to me deciding God had, in fact, sent Chad to play the parts of Nate and Steve. It is very hard to share the ways the Lord leads especially when you can’t fully grasp why He is doing things that don’t make sense to the natural man. It is hard to see people have to defend a decision that I was responsible for, for people to have ugly things said about them because of a decision that I made.
Why must others have to go through this when it wasn’t their fault? I have total peace about the decision that was made. But I have to trust God for the others affected as it is too big for me to handle. I must admit even though I wouldn’t have thought so when I began the process, I have total peace Chad Allen was the man God intended to act in the movie, End of the Spear. I will be held accountable for this decision and I feel I have made the right decision.
In my Bible readings during the days after finding out about Chad’s appearance on Larry King, I was reading in Acts. In Acts 9 God calls Saul/Paul from killing Christians to sharing Christ - much to the dismay of the church at that time. In Chapter 10 He calls Peter to go to the Gentiles which kind of freaks out Peter. What I realized is God writes stories using who He will and it’s not always easy to understand His ways, especially when you are in the middle of the story. Once you read the end of the story it makes sense. It’s just living it that gets tough at times.
Why did He call me, a guy in Oklahoma City who had never been to a movie theater, to make a movie of the most well known mission story of our time? Why did He have it told from the South American point of view? (Many advised me it couldn’t be done and people would not be interested). And why did He call a first time director to direct a film of this size and complexity? I think so no man can get the credit. To God be the Glory!
The story of how the Lord brought us an indigenous tribe to play 26 of the parts in the movie is a miracle. We thought we went to Panama for the location, which did serve us incredibly well, but God also had 26 of our actors living in the jungles of Panama that He wanted to experience being in a movie! The stories go on and on. I will share the Chase Ellison story as it was part of my journey for I was the final one to decide that Chad would not be asked to step down as Nate and Steve.
I was praying under a gazebo in Panama about Chad and what I should do, when Chase Ellison (who plays young Steve Saint in the movie) walked up to me and said, “Can I have ten bucks?” I reached in my pocket and handed it to him.
His mother, who was a few steps back, was aghast and scolded Chase for having the audacity to ask a stranger for $10. Then she looked at me and asked why would I give it to him? It seems that Chase had asked his mom for $10 to ride the Sea-Doos and she had said no so he thought he might as well ask this guy sitting under the gazebo.
While we had not formally met yet, I knew who Chase was as I had seen his audition tapes. I told them Chase was an answer to my prayers. That peaked their interest so we spent some time sharing. I asked them to tell me their story and how they had gotten to be in End of the Spear. She said that Chase had been offered a part in a TV program and a movie at the same time.
Being a young man, Chase was excited. He chose the movie. When it was time for Chase to go to the set, he was detained because of a hurricane and lost the part in the movie. He and his family were devastated. It was just after that experience that we called and offered him the part for End of the Spear.
I explained how Chase was not our first choice as we had offered the part to another young man, but he was also offered a part to be in a Will Ferrell movie. He chose the other movie. I shared with them how over the last seven years I had fasted and prayed for people. Chase was an answer to that prayer so I was happy to give him the $10. Not sure if Chase ever got to ride the Sea-Doos but it was one of the best $10 investments I have made.
As I thought through what had happened with Chase and all that had gone in for each actor, I thought, “Lord, if You can send a hurricane and Will Ferrell along to be sure we have the right “young Steve” in the movie, You can do the same for the adult Steve Saint.” It was at that point I had the clarity I was seeking. I already had peace that the Lord was going to answer. Now I had clarity. I would not ask Chad to step down. If God didn’t want Chad on this movie He had a thousand ways He could keep Chad from coming. I am so glad God allowed Chad to play the part of Nate and Steve Saint.
I don’t understand why God does what He does but I trust Him. I am very glad in the end He is the one who loves us unconditionally for sometimes it is hard to understand how to share the truth in love. It has to be one of the hardest things to do. I know I fail at this, but I am so grateful I can point people to Christ and His unconditional love for them. Lord, help me to share the truth in love.
2. Did the film makers not realize there would be a backlash? If so why proceed anyway?
STEVE: After I got over the emotional shock of realizing that a man who has chosen to live a lifestyle in stark contrast to my Dad’s, would actually be playing his role in End of the Spear; I realized that I would likely be held jointly and severally responsible for that decision. I wanted the issue to go away. Then, I wanted to find a way to make it go away. Finally, I realized I was going to have to face what was happening and that there was little chance of coming out unscathed.
In hind sight it seems like poetic justice. After all, I am the one that keeps challenging Christians to let their scars show. Wounded people want to be ministered to by people who have scars in the same places their patients have wounds.
The deciding factor was a dream I had in Panama, just before Chad arrived. I was being chased by a mob of Christians who were angry with me for having desecrated ‘their story’. I tried to explain that this story was even more special to me than to them, but they would not listen. The answer to their hostility was easy — just ask Chad to remove himself, since Mart could not rescind his contract with Chad.
As quickly as this thought came to me, I found myself standing before God. His look was not as compassionate as I had expected. With no introduction or welcome, God spoke to me. “Steve, you of all people should know that I love all of my children. With regard to Chad Allen, I went to great lengths to orchestrate an opportunity for him to see what it would be like for him to walk the trail that I marked for him. Why did you mess with my plans for him?”
I was fully awake by the end of this sleepy mind play. I knew that there would be a price to pay for any position I would take on this issue, regardless of the fact that I had not wanted to be involved. I knew one thing for sure. I would rather face the anger and even hatred of people who feel I have let them down, here; than to take any chance of having to stand before my Savior and have to answer for messing up His plans for Chad.
3. Please comment on the story [posted on the internet that claims you took the homosexual magazine The Advocate and on the basis of what you read there about Chad Allen being a homosexual advocate, you decided to offer the job to Chad]. Is this accurate? What are Steve’s views?
STEVE: I do not know where this rumor came from. I did not read any article in the Advocate. I have never seen that publication in print or on line. I played no part in casting for the movie. My only involvement was to be informed by Mart that he had found out that Chad was a practicing homosexual and later, that he was an activist for that lifestyle.
When Mart gave me that information, he was extremely apologetic for putting me in a difficult position. I could not imagine how something like this could slip through a professional screening process. Then, I remembered that I had been informed that Every Tribe Entertainment did not require that all the cast and crew of End of the Spear would be required to be Christians. They wanted to make a ‘GOOD’ movie that would tell this story God has written — WELL. And, I had agreed with their commitment, with some relief — I must admit.
People have asked me, “Do you know who Chad Allen is?” I thought of the Pharisee who thought Jesus, ‘...can’t be the Son of God or He would know that this woman that is washing His feet is a sinner.’ Jesus read his host’s mind and let him know that He did know who she was. Then he told him a little story, as I recall, about two debtors who were forgiven. Yes, I know who Chad Allen is. He is a son that Waengongi wants to be reconciled with.
My only daughter Stephenie died suddenly and unexpectedly during a welcome home party for her a few years ago. The excruciating pain of that experience has given me an small but painful understanding of how God must yearn for ALL of his children. I would rather sacrifice my name and reputation than take any chance of standing in the way of God and Chad being reconciled.
4. Considering the controversy is there any regrets to hiring Chad? Would you do it again?
MART: To be honest I would not have hired Chad had I known everything about him. But God had to work around me to get Chad on this project. So I learned that God loved Chad more than I did and that He wanted Chad on this project.
Instead of asking God to change his ways and make sure Chad doesn’t get to work with us in the future, I decided I needed to change my thinking and be willing to work with those that God entrusts to us. My prayer is that no matter where a person is in their walk in life they can come be on an ETE project and be challenged to go to the next level. I know that I have been challenged and come closer to the Lord during this process.
STEVE: Mart has told me over and over that he feels responsible for putting me in a difficult position by hiring Chad to play my Dad and myself in End of the Spear. I have known Mart for seven years now. He has as pure a heart as any man I know. I don’t think this is his doing. God planned the death of His own son. I believe He planned the death of my Dad and his four dear friends. Now, I believe God is at work again.
People criticized my Dad and his friends for risking their lives for just a ‘handful of savages’ back in 1956. Some were enraged that after what happened to them, no one would want to be a missionary. Thousands of full time missionaries have told me this story is THE REASON they are in full time Christian ministry. I don’t pretend to know what God is going to do with this controversy, but I am confident that He is behind this.
I am sorry for any pain that this issue might cause anyone. But, I would not change what is happening any more than I would change what happened to my Dad. Mincaye who is sitting beside me as I write this is proof that “God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform...”
5. How would you answer people who say, “This can’t be a Christian movie” and “Satan masterminded it.”
STEVE: I’m not sure I know what a Christian movie really is. But I do know this; I already see End of the Spear bearing fruit. And it is not the kind of fruit that would please Satan. The religious leaders in Jesus day questioned the blind man that Jesus had healed in John chapter 9. They asserted that Jesus had to be from Satan because He had healed the blind man on the Sabbath. The blind man gave a profound answer. He said something like, “Well you guys know a lot more about all of that than I do. All I know is this, I was blind and now I see.” Lets judge End of the Spear by the fruit it bears.
6. Should the makers of a Christian Movie only hire Christians?
MART: We believe it is the nature of the story that makes a message Christian or not, and that all people in the movie industry should be invited to participate in the making of these stories. We don’t require the people working with us to conform to our understanding of Scripture.
We’ve chosen to tell true stories that raise the question of what it can mean to live what the Bible says is true. The story is what we want the worldwide audience to experience and discuss, and it is the only thing we are promoting. The STORY is the star. We invite you to experience “End of the Spear” and then judge for yourself the message you are left with.