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More Than Meets the Eye
Elisabeth Elliot once commented that she wrote her novel, No Graven Image, as a way to deal with her experiences on the mission field through fiction, especially the three years she spent among the Waorani, then known as "Aucas." Margaret Sparhawk, the heroine of Elliot's book, is a sincere young woman who struggles with the challenging and unexpected complexities she encounters in her efforts to live out the gospel among an indigenous people. Through Margaret's experiences, Elliot explores the idea that there is much more to missionary work than meets the eye, in fact, a great deal more than the folks back home ever imagine.
Elliot's novel offers a helpful cautionary note to viewers of The End of the Spear, a feature-length film about the story with which Elisabeth Elliot is most often associated and which she did much to memorialize: the 1956 killings of her husband and four other missionaries by Waorani warriors in the rainforests of Ecuador. Elliot's 1957 book Through Gates of Splendor, along with a Life magazine photo essay and wide coverage in both the secular and the Christian press, made the deaths of Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian the defining missionary martyr story for American evangelicals during the second half of the twentieth century.
The End of the Spear tells this story from new points of view, those of Nate Saint's son Steve and one of the Waorani, named Mincayani. Mincayani (played by Louie Leonardo) is a composite character drawn from the life histories of several Waorani warriors but closely associated with the real-life Mincaye, one of the men who speared the missionaries. The film follows Steve (played as a boy by Chase Ellison and as an adult by Chad Allen) and Mincayani from Mincayani's childhood experiences of tribal violence in the 1940s and Steve's loss of his father in 1956 to a dramatic moment of confrontation and reconciliation as adults in the 1990s. Along the way, it portrays the love between a father ...