John Allen Chau

Welcoming Party: A Tribute to John Allen Chau

On November 16, 2018, 26 year old John Allen Chau was killed.

He lost his life trying to share Jesus with a Stone Age tribe in the North Sentinel Islands in the Bay of Bengal, cut off from all outside contact. The tribe is protected from contact by the Indian government. Outsiders are not permitted entering the island.

John had worked for three years to build trust with the tribe. On this particular trip, he tried twice to make contact. His first attempt injured him as one of their arrows struck his Bible. He took time to recover before making a second attempt.

In the interim, he wrote in his journal, “Watching the sunset and it’s beautiful – crying a bit…wondering if it will be the last sunset I see…God, I don’t want to die.”

Even after arrows struck him, he kept reaching out to the islanders with the gifts he’d brought, and what was obviously love inspired by his faith. Whatever you think of his plan, it’s hard to question his heart.

But that still didn’t stop some people’s hate for his faith from getting the best of them.

Reporter Marnie O’Neill (@marnieoneill7) titled her article, “Slain US missionary’s crazy plan to convert world’s most reclusive tribe.” In the article, she colors his efforts as being those of an arrogant intruder and paints the islanders as Chau’s victims.

“A US preacher repeatedly imposed himself on a reclusive Stone Age tribe in a bid to convert them to Christianity until they snapped.”

Snapped? He walked smiling onto a beach, offering them fish and friendship. But in O’Neill’s eyes, Chau bullied them into massacring him out of frustration. She goes on to describe him as “deluded” in his hopes to convert the tribe, and points out the possibility of his spreading disease to them. The fact he was completely healthy and had experience as a wilderness EMT seems not to have swayed her opinion.

And over on one YouTube channel, the host mockingly gave Chau the “Darwin Award,” implying his death was natural selection in getting rid of the stupid people.

It’s amazing how educated people insist on misreading the motives of Christianity today. In classic missionary fashion, John sought to show the tribe God’s love from a spiritual as well as physical side. He could help them in practical ways, but also tackle the spiritual sickness from which all people suffer.

Juxtaposed against all those hateful responses to his selfless actions, I noticed how extraordinary John is in this particular point of history.

Instead of merely arguing his beliefs on the internet to win points for his own glory, John was willing to lose absolutely everything for God’s glory. In a world motivated by anger and hate, his motive was completely selfless love.

He was willing to be misunderstood and misrepresented. Surely, he knew what the world is like now. He was no stranger to social media. But he didn’t take the easy way out most believers do.

How refreshingly odd. He seems to have actually believed what millions of western Christians only give lip service in our Twitter debates.

His welcoming party in heaven will be a sharp contrast to the one that met him on that strip of beach.

He didn’t argue about his beliefs. He simply died for them.

May his tribe increase.

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