As a teenager, Chad Allen used to lie awake at night convinced that God hated him and that he was going to hell.

At 20, addicted to drugs and alcohol, he paced alone in his Malibu condo, gun in hand, agonizing over whether or not to pull the trigger.

And for years, he thought all Christians loathed people like him—because he was gay.

Today, at 34, the veteran actor says he's gotten over all that. Allen is now convinced of God's love, has been sober for eight years, and no longer thinks of taking his own life. And he counts among his good friends a number of evangelicals who object to his lifestyle but have reached out to him in love and compassion.

Many of those were Christians he met on the set of End of the Spear, a film about missionaries Nate Saint, Jim Elliot and others martyred in Ecuador in 1956. Allen played the role of Saint, but it wasn't till the production started that the filmmakers realized they had hired a gay man for the part. But rather than breach a contract and ask Allen to step down, they deemed him the best actor for the role and kept him onboard. They decided they would later deal with whatever controversy came their way. (And it did.)

The filmmakers' kindness—especially from producer Mart Green, director Jim Hanon, and consultant Steve Saint (Nate's son)—convinced Allen that there could be more productive conversation between the evangelical and gay communities.

In an effort to advance that conversation, Allen and some colleagues—some gay, some straight—have made Save Me, an indie film opening in limited release this week. The movie concerns a homosexual young man named Mark who, addicted to sex and drugs, hits rock bottom and ends up at Genesis House, a Christian "ex-gay" ministry, ...

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