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Missionary man
How being on the cover of The Advocate got Chad Allen a role as a real-life evangelical Christian killed in the Amazon

When Chad Allen was first told by his agent that he was being offered a pivotal role in an independent film called End of the Spear, Allen asked point-blank, "Do they know who I am?' The film, he explains, is based on a true story of tremendous importance to evangelical Christians: In 1956 five Christian missionaries attempted to contact the Waodani, a people living in the Ecuadoran Amazon that are "now believed to be the most violent society to ever have existed;" according to Allen.

All five were speared to death, but their families (even some children) followed them into the jungle, and they somehow managed not only to safely contact the Waodani but live among them. One of those children, Steve

Saint, even made the men who killed his father godparents to his children, and it was Saints story-and his father's-that End of the Spear's filmmakers wanted Allen to portray on-screen.

Allen went into his first meeting with the film's producers and director with real trepidation that they and the Saint family-for whom, he stresses, he had great respect would not want a gay man representing their legacy. After he aired his concern, however, the filmmakers produced, of all things, the November 25, 2003, issue of The Advocate with Allen on the cover, in which the actor spoke of his faith and the importance of doing good works for the holidays. They had showed that issue to Steve Saint, the filmmakers told Allen. "And this man Steve Saint said that the same things that I talked about in The Advocate are the same things he fought his whole life for," Allen beams, "and it would wrong for them not to ask me to do it. That's an amazing story, right?"

No kidding. Allen's casting as Saints father, Nate-and, later in the film, as Steve himself-did not pass without further controversy, especially after a contentious Larry King Live appearance with minister John MacArthur the day President Bush announced his support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. But by the end of production Allen was invited along with Saint and a select group of actors and producers from the film to live with the Waodani for several weeks, three days' journey from any working telephone. "When it was over," Allen says quietly, "both [Steve Saint] and I were in tears, hugging each other saying goodbye, because so much love had developed between us. It was an amazing experience:"

 - A.B.V.

 

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