Recently, John Allen Chau, a 27-year-old American missionary, was killed by an Indian tribe after venturing to their remote island with the intent of sharing the Gospel. Chau, originally from Vancouver, Washington, was murdered with arrows the minute he landed on North Sentinel Island. The Sentinelese tribe is one of the last populations that remain uncontacted by the civilized world.
Indian authorities alleged the American missionary was unwavering in his plan to travel to the island and witness for Christ. To get to the remote location, Chau convinced a group of fisherman to convey him to within close proximity of the area. He then finished the journey in his canoe. According to local fisherman, Chau’s dead body was discovered not long after he landed on the island.
Despite killing Chau mercilessly, the people responsible for his death likely won’t face criminal charges. Reportedly, the reason stems from a government initiative that prevents the indigenous tribe from being in contact with the outside world. The measure seeks to protect the Sentinelese tribe’s way of life and keep them from succumbing to diseases to which they have no immunities. Due to the protection provisions, contact with the tribe is stringently prohibited.
Regardless of this unique judicial mitigation, International Christian Concern, ICC, conveyed, “a case of murder has been registered against unknown members of the Sentinelese tribe” after the incident. Allegedly, the fishermen who coordinated the boat ride for Chau are among those detained. The American missionary apparently arrived in India on a tourist visa, but was determined to utilize his time to share the Gospel with unbelievers. Dependra Pathak, Director General of Police of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, said, “We refuse to call him a tourist. Yes, he came on a tourist visa but he came with a specific purpose to preach on a prohibited island.”
Pathak remarked, “According to the fishermen, they used a wooden boat fitted with motors to travel to the island on November 15. The boat stopped 500-700 meters (1,640 – 2,300 ft) away from the island and (the American missionary) used a canoe to reach the shore of the island. He came back later that day with arrow injuries. On the 16th, the (tribespeople) broke his canoe. So he came back to the boat swimming. He did not come back on the 17th; the fishermen later saw the tribespeople dragging his body around.”
William Stark, ICC regional manager, stated that the organization he represents is “extremely concerned” about the violent attack. He commented, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to both John’s family and friends. Stark added, “a full investigation must be launched and those responsible must be brought to justice.”
Chau’s mother shared the riveting journal her son wrote in during his final days with the Washington Post. The American missionary conveyed that the tribespeople reacted angrily when he attempted to speak their language and sing “worship songs” to them. Chau journaled, “I hollered, ‘My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you.’” In his writings, Chau revealed that a juvenile shot at him with an arrow, which penetrated the determined young man’s waterproof Bible. In a final note to his family, Chau wrote, “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people. God, I don’t want to die.”
In 2001, the total population on the remote island was estimated to be 39. A 2011 survey only spotted 15 tribespeople in the area. In the past, members of the tribe have proved themselves to be hostile. After the heartbreakingly devastating tsunami in 2004, reports surfaced that some of the tribespeople had survived. This news prompted the deployment of a Navy helicopter to check on the indigenous people. As the aircraft approached, some of the tribespeople began to shoot arrows at it. The pilot of the aircraft surmised, “So we knew that they were safe.” Two years later, Survival International, a campaign group, revealed two fishermen had been murdered by the tribe after trying to reach the island.
Pray for the family and friends of this brave slain American missionary during this difficult time.
~ 1776 Christian