Thursday, February 02, 2006

Son-In-Law at the End of the Spear

The son-in-law of one of "the other men" killed in 1956 while on a mission work has spoken about the controversial casting incident surrounding this movie. Click on the first link to read the comments but here is the email in its entirety:

I have been waiting for a national Christian leader to comment on “End of the Spear” and the casting of Chad Allen in the lead role. Their voices are strangely silent. After all of their build up, that we finally have a movie of our own, they seem to be frozen in indecision or mired in accepting silly arguments for Chad’s inclusion.

My name is Dan Kachikis. My deceased wife, Beth Youderian, was Roger Youderian’s daughter. Roger was one of those men who died on “Palm Beach” in 1956, at the end of a spear.

Beth and I were strong supporters of the work Mart and Steve have been doing. Beth would have been appalled at this decision and I feel betrayed.

I’m sure Chad is a nice guy, but he wasn’t the man for this role. Making the “story the Star” and using the best secular means to tell it, sounds like “the end justifies the means.” Would the Christian community be ok with doing the “Billy Graham Story” with an atheist pedophile because he had the best audition? Would Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Farwell and the rest, sit silent and just say that it’s the story that’s important? And why not have secular professionals perform your church music if it enhances the worship of God? If we cannot respond to this firmly, but in love, this is a sad day for the Christian church in the US. This film and it’s making have become a parable for the weakness of the American church. How dare we wonder why our divorce and “lives adrift” counts look just like the secular world. We talk one thing, and live something else.

What bothers me is that the story of what happened on the beach wasn’t just one man’s story. There were five men and five families. I don’t mind them taking “artistic liberty” with the way Nate Saint died. Factually, he was probably the first man dead on the beach, speared in the temple. Although Mart knew it was controversial to use Chad, he didn’t ask the other families. Why did he take this liberty with our hearts and our heritage?

My mother-in-law, Roger’s wife, was in Panama for part of the filming and was never told. She didn’t find out until 3 days after the film’s release. Apparently everyone else in Panama, the other wives, knew. I can only conclude that this was kept from her because my brother-in-law, Roger’s son, has not been a fan of this project. Had they asked both of them, they would have said “no.” Had I known, I would have said no, for myself and for Beth.

In Mart’s public correspondence in “Sharperiron” he mentioned that after Chad was on Larry King Live with John MacArthur, there was an opportunity to politely ask Chad to step back and Chad would have accepted this. Now I know they prayed, but when Mart begins mentioning practical concerns like, “We have locations in Panama that we will lose if we don't shoot on schedule,” I can’t help but understand this pragmatically. They would have lost time, missed deadlines and opening dates, they would have lost money, they would have lost locations, salaries. Practically speaking, the easier decision was pray, have a dream and say “yes” to Chad.

Will blessing come from the movie? Yes. God’s plans are bigger than we are. When a pastor living in adultery preaches, do people trust Christ? Yes. Does “fruit” or God’s blessing always justify us? No.

So now we have our Christian movie. But I will never buy the DVD, encourage anyone to watch it or consider it a part of my kids heritage. It is for me a symbol of a confused North American church. Many Christian groups will see it. Some will glory in the testimony, others will wish they had found out first that someone who doesn’t represent what they want their kids to be, plays the most important part in it. Maybe in four or five more weeks, after the film has made most if its revenue, someone will broaden the “sorry if you feel hurt” line to “we’re sorry we made such a selfish, spiritually blind decision.” Maybe the “big dogs” will find their voices and utter a protest.

But until then, maybe we can make Hollywood sit up and take notice. We’ll show ‘um what good Christian entertainment is all about. We’ll make ‘um notice us Christians. Oh, I think they already have, as we stand here with egg dripping down our faces. We showed ‘um.

In Christ,
Dan Kachikis

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