By Mark Ellis –
John Chau, the missionary that gave his life to reach a remote tribe with the love of Christ, took every precaution to avoid any health dangers to them, including a self-imposed quarantine and 13 immunizations.
“He was wilderness EMT trained and was trained in health,” says Joshua Johnson, executive director of All Nations, the missions organization that supported Chau. “He took as many immunizations as he could before he went. He put himself in a self-imposed quarantine before he went. He did not want to endanger the tribe.”
Chau’s November 14, 2018 journal entry was written from a “safe house” in Port Blair, in the Andaman Islands, where he quarantined himself.
“I’ve been in a safe house in Port Blair since returning from Hut Bay, Little Andaman for the past eleven days!” Chau noted in his journal.
Then a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal caused further delays to his plan. “Being stuck in the safe house meant that I hadn’t seen any full sunlight till today…the benefit is that I was essentially in quarantine,” he wrote.
In preparation to reach the Sentinelese, he spent much time in prayer and reading. He read The Lives of the Three Mrs. Judsons by Arabella Stuart, chronicling the sacrifices made by the wives of Adoniram Judson, who brought the Gospel to Burma (Myanmar).
Chau was inspired by the way the Judsons overcame hardships in their pioneering effort, which he contrasted with the harm caused by British colonialists, “who failed to be a blessing to the nations and rejected the commands of Jesus.”
The 26-year-old missionary overflowed with gratitude about the privilege of undertaking his mission. “God, I thank you for choosing me, before I was even yet formed in my mother’s womb, to be Your messenger of Your Good news to the people of North Sentinel Island.”
He thought God would use his multi-ethnic background. “Even my heritage points to you – me, an American citizen, part Irish, part Native American (Choctaw), part African, and part Chinese and southeast Asian – thank You Father for using me, for shaping me and molding me to be Your ambassador.
“Please continue to keep all of us indeed hidden from the physical and spiritual forces who desire to keep the people here in darkness. Holy Spirit please open the hearts of the tribe to receive me and by receiving me, to receive You. May Your kingdom, Your rule and reign come now to North Sentinel Island. My life is in your hands, O Father, so into Your hands I commit my Spirit.”
Chau firmly believed that God’s plan to reach the Sentinelese will ultimately be accomplished. “His plan will succeed and I pray that not my will nor my plan be done but only His good, pleasing and perfect will. Forever You Jesus, are to be praised,” he wrote, before his departure for the island at 8 pm on the 14th in the company of fishermen.
Their boat reached North Sentinel Island by 10:30 pm, but motored away from other boat lights in the distance. “All along the way our boat was highlighted by bioluminescent plankton – and as fish jumped nearby we could see them like dancing mermaids shimmering along,” he wrote.
“The Milky Way was above and God himself was shielding us from the Coast Guard and Navy patrols.” At 4:30 am on November 15th, they entered a cove on the western shore. Chau and two men jumped into the shallow water and unloaded two pelican plastic containers and a kayak.
Chau spotted a Sentinel Islander house about 400 yards away and waited for someone to emerge. By 8:30 am, he tried initiating contact. Chau got two large fish from the boat and placed them on top of the kayak and began waving to the house, while he stood atop dead coral in four feet of water. He could hear the sound of women’s voices in the distance.
Then suddenly, two armed Sentinelese men came rushing toward him, yelling. “They had two arrows each, unstrung, until they got closer.”
“My name is John,” he called out. “I love you and Jesus loves you. Jesus Christ gave me authority to come to you. Here is some fish!”
Fear momentarily overtook Chau as he recognized the men’s hostile intent. “I regret I began to panic slightly as I saw them string arrows in their bows. He threw the fish toward them, but the men kept running and were almost within arrow range.
“I turned and paddled like I never have in my life back to the boat. I felt some fear but mainly was disappointed they didn’t accept me right away. I can now say I’ve been nearly shot by the Sentinelese.”
After a meal of “dal and rice” Chau put the two big fish on top of his kayak, and a waterproof plastic case that held pencils, a medical kit to handle arrow wounds, picture cards, vitamins and multi-tools. It also contained his passports, a waterproof Bible, and some gifts: scissors, tweezers, safety pins, fishing line and hooks, cordage and rubber tubing, and towels.
He set off in the kayak toward the north shore of an area where he spotted a dilapidated structure and two destroyed dugouts via binoculars. He waded into the shallow water and affixed some gifts to the fish.
Then six “juveniles” suddenly emerged from a hut whooping and shouting. Not knowing their language, he tried to parrot their words back to them. “They burst out laughing most of the time, so they probably were saying bad words or insulting me. They were also yelling into the forest behind the hut,” he recounted in his journal.
Then Chau spotted one man wearing a white crown on his head that might have been made from flowers. He climbed atop a rock and yelled toward Chau.
Chau yelled a phrase in Xhosa, a South African language, and began to sing several worship songs and hymns in English.
They fell silent for a moment, then two of them dropped their bows and grabbed a dugout canoe and began to move toward him. “I couldn’t tell if they were truly unarmed or not. So still I got a safe distance away and dropped off the fish and gifts and at first they poled their dugout past the gifts and were coming at me, then they turned and grabbed the gifts.”
An adolescent and a young woman with bows followed behind the two gift receivers.
Chau waved his arms to say “no bad” but they didn’t understand.
The islanders attempted to block his exit. “Then the little kid with bow and arrow came down the middle and I figured that was it.”
Chau began to preach to them from Genesis. Now he was inches from one unarmed man, who was well built, with a round face and pale yellow pigment circles on his cheeks. Chau gave them all the gifts in his possession and they took his kayak.
Then something terrible happened. “The little man shot me with an arrow – directly into my Bible which I was holding off my chest. I grabbed the arrow shaft in front it broke in my Bible (on pg 433 Isaiah 63:5-65:2) and felt the arrowhead. It was metal, thin but very sharp.”
Chau stumbled backward and yelled at the young man that shot at him. Shocked and frightened, he turned and swam almost a mile back to the boat at the mouth of the cove.
“I saw the boat with figures with their arms up waving and I thought briefly that another group of Sentinelese had attacked the boat while they were watching me but thank God that wasn’t the case. Although I now have no kayak, or my small pelican and its contents, I’m grateful that I still have the written word of God,” he recounted.
He decided to rest and sleep on the boat and return to the same beach the next morning.
But Chau admitted in his diary: “I’m scared…There, I said it…also frustrated and uncertain – is it worth me going on feet to meet them?
“Lord…if you want me to get actually shot or even killed with an arrow, then so be it. I think I could be more useful alive though, but to you, God, I give all the glory of whatever happens. I DON’T WANT to DIE! Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else continue? No. I don’t think so – I’m stuck here anyway without a passport and have been off the grid. I still could make it back to the US somehow as it almost seems like certain death to stay here. Yet there is evidenced change in just two encounters in a single day. Will try again tomorrow.”
That evening there was a spectacular sunset. “Watching the sunset and its beautiful – crying a bit… wondering if it’ll be the last sunset I see before being in the place where the sun never sets…”
“God, I don’t want to die. WHO WILL TAKE MY PLACE IF I DO? Oh God, I miss my parents, my mom and my dad…I’ve never felt this much grief or sorrow before. WHY! Why did a little kid have to shoot me today? His high pitched voice still lingers in my head. Father, forgive him and any of the people on this island who try to kill me, and especially forgive them if they succeed.
Chau wondered what had caused the Sentinelese to become so antagonistic toward outsiders. “What made them become this defensive and hostile? Legends passed down through the millennia of their escape from a slave ship? Why does this beautiful place have to have so much death here?”
In his journal, Chau recounted a vision he received from God the previous evening. “Last night, I had what I’d call a vision as I’ve never had one before – my eyes were shut but I wasn’t asleep and I saw a purple hue over an island-like city as a meteorite or star fell to it and it was a frightening city with jagged spires and I felt distressed. Then a different light, a whitish light filled it and all the frightening bits melted away.”
It may have been a prophetic warning. Chau continued to wrestle with his emotions. “Lord is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had a chance to hear your name?
“Lord strengthen me as I need your strength and protection and guidance and all that you give and are. Whoever comes after me to take my place, whether it’s after tomorrow or another time, please give them a double anointing and bless them mightily.”
The plan Chau developed for the next day was to have the boat to drop him and leave for the day, returning at night. “If it goes badly on foot the fisherman won’t have to bear witness to my death,” he wrote. “Perfect LOVE casts out fear. LORD Jesus, fill me with your perfect love for these people!”
Chau’s final journal entry was written at 6:20 am on the morning of November 16th.
“Woke up after a fairly restful sleep, heading to island now. I hope this isn’t my last notes but if it is, to God be the glory.”
He added a note to his family: “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people. 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’ll see you again when you pass through the veil. Don’t retrieve my body. This is not a pointless thing – the eternal lives of this tribe is at hand and I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshiping in their own language as Revelation 7:9-10 states.
“I love you all and I pray none of you love anything in this world more than Jesus Christ.
“Soli Deo Gloria, John Chau”
Joshua Johnson at All Nations, admires Chau’s character. “John was a courageous and bold man, but also very humble. Above all he had a love for Jesus that was unmatched. He just wanted to love and obey Jesus.
“John Chau and All Nations believe in honoring other cultures. That is one of the core things we train people on, is how to honor cultures, to go in as a learner and to figure out who they are. I believe John’s intentions were righteous and good and he had years of rigorous training and planning to reach the North Sentinelese with the love of God.
“He didn’t go into it without accepting the risks and challenges. He cared about their well-being. He didn’t do it without wanting the best for them and to have the love of God within their tribe.”
Chau is a law breaker and extremely harmful to Sentiliese tribe. Jesus is not the only way to God but there are other ways also through which one can receive God’s blessings. Chau is ridiculously not aware of it.
Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life, NO one comes to the Father except by Me.” John 14:6
He laid his life down for the cause of reaching lost souls. He disobeyed a man made law to obey a higher law: the Law of Love.
His blood will not have been shed in vain, the Lord will reach these people by other means or an individual(s.)
A typical comment from one who does not truly know The Gospel.
Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me.”
John Chau disobeyed a man-made law (with no harm to anyone but himself) in order to obey the higher Law of Love.
His blood is not spilt in vain, God will raise up others to reach those people and they shall be reached with the Gospel.
No other religion would “lay down their life” for love as Christ did! We have Mohamed and buda’s graves. Jesus is the only one who proclaimed that He was God and rose from the dead to prove it! I think you have some research to do. May God help you!
Why does this person never read the word of God? “…no one comes to the father except through me” Jesus
Jim Elliot wrote the following words in his diary, shortly before his death at the hands of the Aucas: “He is no fool to give to God what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose!” John Chau had the same confidence!
Praise God for John Chau who had the courage to stand up for Jesus no matter what the cost. May someone follow as Elizabeth Elliott did to save these lost people. May Johm’s family be comforted that John’s life was the ultimate sacrifice to draw others to our Lord.
These people do not read or speak english. They had no idea what he was saying or what his bible even is. This is so sad. The only beneficial thing he did for these people was to pray for them. I appreciate his sincerity, but he was tragically naive. I pray he did not infect them with disease.
He also tried speaking Xosa at them, which is a language spoken thousands of miles away across the ocean, because all Black people look the same.
I imagine his intent on that is that there might be some shared language between the two.
This is of course a sad story but a consequence of disobedience and false teaching because no one shall do anything in God’s Name if one has not received an (audible) calling from the Spirit of God in their own spirit which then shall be confirmed in other ways. God does not send anyone with a message from Himself without first preparing the messenger and those who shall receive the message.
THEREFORE said I unto you, that NO MAN can come unto me, except it were given unto Him of my Father John 6:65
“For many are called, but few are chosen. Matth.22:14
The correct interpretation and understanding of Matt.22:14 I received in the Spirit is this:
Many are called into the Kingdom of God but few of those who begin to “work” in it are chosen by God, they have chosen themself. Does not Jesus say that He shall send the Spirit of Truth so that one shall be lead- step by step- into the whole truth? He does not say ‘read the Bible and make your own decision how you will do the work’.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy Name have cast out devils? and in thy Name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity (you have worked in lawlessness and without that I have commanded you , you have worked in self- righteousness apart from My Will for you personally) Matt.7:22-23
Mary, respectfully I ask you…..how do you know that he received false teaching or did not receive a Word from God and confirmation to do what he was led to do? How do you come to the conclusion he was not prepared and equiped by God to go?
If the death of John Chau is merely a sad story and a consequence of disobedience and false teaching, would you say the same thing about the death of Jesus on the cross?
I absolutely am touched with the sacrifice of John Chau. I wish I had a nano-tenth of this desire to die when necessary to bring people into the eternal kingdom of God and away from the eternal fires that awaits every person who has not made the Lord Jesus Christ his or her savior.
I am looking at many of the reports in various news agencies and I can understand non-believers thinking John is mad or was a threat for the health being of the Sentinelese people. What I have found sad was when people who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, as the Only way to heaven busy dissecting if this was the right thing to do…. This guy was not married nor leaving any kids behind (even if that was the case, there cometh a point where one ought to lay his life for this friends like Jesus- physically and deny his wife and kids!!!, Jesus is very clear).. he died to ensure that the people would not go to hell!!!! And the blood of the Martyr that died in John Chau will speak greater things and I honestly believe his death has opened a great door for effectual ministry. Of course he was naïve!! Any person who is going to be effectual in depopulating hell and bringing people into the eternal kingdom of heaven must be naïve from the world’s eyes. the world says, go to school, marry, build a career, have success, give what is left over , grow old with enough retirement, then die.
But life in the kingdom of God is built on sacrifice. John Chau had to be “naïve” because the bible says ” the cross is FOOLISHNESS to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
YOu can never appreciate John’s sacrifice until you believe that every person who is does not believe or follow Jesus Christ is going to end up in eternal flames. Do not blame me. Read Revelations 20!
God bless you. I agree completely. He sowed a seed with his life. What an inspiration, I am really touched.
I am not a Christian, but I was one for 40 plus years so I might have done the same thing. Having said that I now say it was totally wrong what John Chau did, it was even against what Jesus said. He was brain washed by missionary zeal preached by fundamental Christian missions.
This is a message to Christians who think that he was just a brave devout man doing what Jesus Commanded. Well did he really follow what Jesus said according to the bible? Most Christians probably don’t know that what this man did is even against the words of Jesus according to the bible.
Matthew 10:14 ►
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.
This man went there the day before, and those natives made it very clear that he was not welcome there, yet he went back the next day and they finnished what they had warned him they would do.
I don’t think this was a job for one man.Such a shame that after his first attempt he couldn’t go back to his support group and pray and talk and discern.(Wonder if he did ring anyone…. an elder for example.) I think God will be pleased with him and I’d like to think he didn’t die in vain ‘re the future.
(This is written with love. Please accept it in that spirit.)
I’m afraid there seems to be some misunderstanding here on how immunization works. Chau immunizing himself wouldn’t protect the islanders, it would only have protected him. Immunization exposes the body to dead or inert germs so that when the immune system later encounters live ones it’s prepared. That helps the person being immunized, it doesn’t help others.
Also, he may have “quarantined himself”, but after that he was in contact with various people and objects around him: for example, the fishermen and the boat that took him to the island. All those would’ve carried germs to which the islanders have no immunity.
So no, he did not “take every precaution” not to expose the islanders to disease. It’s very likely that his actions are in fact going to kill many of the islanders by disease.
His intentions may have been pure and Christian, but his actions were undoubtedly harmful. It’s hard for us to accept that, but I urge you with love to please not avert your eyes from that difficult truth. Please take this as a teaching moment and let’s learn from his mistakes which could have extremely harmful effects.
I have to wonder if he suffered from some sort of messiah complex. What did he honestly expect was going to happen? He did not speak their language, how did he expect to communicate with them? Jesus is not a universal language. It sounds like he knew he was going to be killed. And for what purpose? I understand that some feel compelled to become missionaries, and there is nothing wrong with that if you go about it the right way. What he did was foolish and did not help his cause in the slightest. I find john to be extremely arrogant. His writings also make him seem a bit unhinged. He believed he was the only person capable of saving these people. What makes him so superior? He tried to preach the gospel and got an arrow through his Bible, yet he still went back to meet his certain death. He seems more like a madman than a missionary. I do not think God was telling him to go back to the island that last day, I think it was his own ego. He wanted to be THE one to “save” the tribe. Just as there is radical extremism in Islam, there can be radical extremism in Christianity. In a time where religion is more of a touchy subject than ever, he has painted Christianity in a negative light. While I hope he has found peace in the afterlife, his death borders on the edge of suicide/insanity. Such a shameful way to die for nothing.
Western evangelism has never ended well for indigenous peoples. Envangelism usually ends in colonization and a loss of their land and lives. They end up going to heaven, but much sooner than they desire. If western evangelism susceeded in that region today, next year there would be resorts built on the land and a wall to keep the indigineous people out. If you disagree, name one place where western evangelism went and the indigenous people are better off. None! Often colonialism is cloaked under the guise of Christianity and evangelism in western societies. Perhaps God will extend mercy and grace, but western evangelicalism will not extend either especially since the indigenous people are black.
Why do people think they have the right to weigh in, dissect & criticise such a tragic event? None of you knew this young man & God alone knew his heart. Pray for his family & pray for the natives he was attempting to reach. Stop judging.
Another way to look at it is, if John DIDN’T go to North Sentinel Island, it could NOT be said that the Gospel had been proclaimed everywhere. There would always be someone that could say for example: “well, they didn’t get the Gospel to Sentinel island yet, so the end can’t come yet””.
The people on that island, like the Jews in the first century, did not recognize the time of their visitation. But it was a technical success, the Gospel was delivered to them. The Gospel was proclaimed. And the messenger paid a high price for it’s delivery.
“I hollered, ‘My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you,’ ” he wrote in his journal. One of the juveniles shot at him with an arrow, which pierced his waterproof Bible, he wrote.
I find that this comes at an uncanny point in time. My interest in this story is not a casual one. I can’t let it go for some reason. If this had happened a few years ago, i don’t think it would bug me too much. Right now, with everything else going on, it looks like just another one of TOO many coincidences. I wonder now if the Lord did not raise John Chau up, AND these Sentinelese also to be vessels in the fulfillment of scripture in these last days.
I know there are other isolated tribes in places like South America, but not like these guys. The south American ones are still on the same land mass. These Sentinelese are notoriously remote. The MOST remote.
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come. – Matthew 24:14
”And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
And now the Gospel has reached to “the ends of the Earth”.
The disciples continue their witnessing through their written word which can be found in the water proof Bibles of today.
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed.
It just says that this Gospel will be PROCLAIMED. It doesn’t say that it will be accepted or realized or even understood.
And then shall the end come.
John Chau is a true and real inspirational soul winner for CHRIST JESUS. He stood on what he believed of the word of God to GO and make disciples for God. May his unfinished work reach and touch someone in this tribe to know the truth, the way, and the life. May his family know and understand this young man’s purpose on earth. Have HOPE.
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