By Oregon Faith News Note,
John Allen Chau, a 26-year-old missionary from Vancouver, Wash., died this month trying to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with one of the world’s most isolated tribes, and now seven people who helped him reach the off-limits island near the eastern coast of India have been arrested. His story has been heard aroudn the world (Britain, Australia, Asia, Middle East, India, Africa).
Chau, an adventurous explorer and wilderness EMT who led missionary trips abroad, wanted to convert the North Sentinelese people to Christianity. He had traveled four times to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal since 2015, according to The Washington Post.
In Chau’s journals of his last days, which his mother shared with The Washington Post, the young man who had graduated from Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma spoke about his plans to reach the island even though he knew it was illegal to do so. For decades Indian law has prohibited outsiders from going within five nautical miles of the tiny island, both to protect them from harm and prevent illnesses from spreading to the natives who have no immunity to common ailments such as the flu, according to The New York Post.
Chau boarded a small wooden fishing boat with motors and traveled by dark to the island Nov. 14. He paddled ashore in a kayak the next day, offered fish and other gifts, and tried to speak to the people in their language.
“I hollered, ‘My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you,’” Chau wrote in his journal.
But the islanders who live in huts fired arrows at him. One pierced his waterproof Bible. Chau retreated to the boat but tried again, according to CNN.
He wrote his last note to his family Nov. 16 and left it with the fishermen.
“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.”
Then he left a third time for the island’s shore. The next morning, the fishermen saw his body “being dragged and then buried,” according to Deepak Yadav, a senior police official in Port Blair.
Police arrested the fishermen and a friend of Chau’s who helped him to hire the boat, despite pleas from the family to blame no one for what happened. Dependra Pathak, director general of the island police, said authorities must follow the law in prosecuting people who break it. He said authorities are looking into trying to recover Chau’s body.
“He was a beloved son, brother, uncle, and best friend to us,” his family wrote on Instagram. “To others he was a Christian missionary, a wilderness EMT, an international soccer coach, and a mountaineer. He loved God, life, helping those in need, and he had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people.”
CNN reported that Chau’s desire to reach the Sentinelese for Christ dated back to high school, according to Mat Staver, who founded a Christian ministry that Chau belonged to while in college.
“John loved people, and he loved Jesus,” Staver wrote in a press release. “He was willing to give his life to share Jesus with the people on North Sentinel Island.”
Chau didn’t want to die, but his last words show he knew it was a possibility.
“Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed—rather please live your lives in obedience to whatever He has called you to and I will see you again when you pass through the veil.”
Hours before his death, Chau wrote, “Why does this beautiful place have to have so much death here? I hope this isn’t one of my last notes, but if it is ‘to God be the Glory.’”