Chau prepared to share Good News with isolated tribe

Friday, November 30, 2018
Steve Jordahl (

John ChauWas he a brave martyr or a fool? That's the question being asked about missionary John Chau, who was reportedly killed trying to evangelize a lost people group on a lone island.

Chau (pictured) had to hire local fishermen to illegally cross the naval blockade separating North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay on Bengal, from the rest of the world. A 1956 law prohibits contact with the tribe. 

Only Chau's waterproof Bible stopped an arrow from its deadly task on his first visit. On his second attempt - sometime between November 16 and 18 - John Allen Chau died at the hands of the lost tribe he came to save. He was 26. 

Was he crazy? Impulsive? Naïve? Or perhaps walking in faith exactly where God had sent him?

Mary Ho, who leads All Nations, the missions group that sent Chau, told Christianity Today that the young man believed it was his life's call "to take the love and the goodness of Jesus Christ to the North Sentinelese."

Contrary to some early claims, Chau didn't simply wander onto the island out of impulse. Going back to high school, he wanted to reach the isolated Sentinelese people and prepared himself while a student at Oral Roberts University.

"He majored in sports medicine, in health, in exercise science," Ho said. "Later he got trained as a wilderness EMT, worked at a national park, got trained in linguistics, … he became acquainted with all the writings on cultural anthropology." 

sharing the gospel

In the end the young missionary knew he was on a dangerous journey and that he might, in fact, die, not unlike hundreds of missionaries in the past, and like many serving right now on the mission field. But Chau was willing to lay down his life to spread the gospel.

Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land says the wrong question to ask is if Chau was attempting to save the Sentinelese from Hell.

"The question shouldn't be are these people all going to Hell," Land observes. "It should be why haven't we gone and told them about Jesus."

John Allen Chau tried and Land says that makes him a hero of the faith.

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