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India works to retrieve U.S. missionary’s body

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 11/23/18, 12:03 pm

Authorities in India on Friday continued to search for the body of John Allen Chau, an American Christian missionary who was killed by island tribesmen known for their hostility to outsiders. After several visits to North Sentinel Island late last week to share Christianity with the island’s inhabitants, Chau, 26, returned a final time Friday. According to his journal, he had survived an arrow shot by one of the younger tribesmen on an earlier visit, noting that the arrow hit a Bible he was holding before he fled. “Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else continue,” he wrote. “No I don’t think so.” The fishermen who helped him make the journey to the remote island said the tribesmen shot him with arrows and were seen Saturday dragging and burying his body on the beach.

North Sentinel Island is part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands located at the convergence of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Dependera Pathak, the director-general of police on the islands, said his office was collaborating with anthropologists and tribal welfare experts to figure out how to recover Chau’s body.

Chau, a native of Vancouver, Wash., was affiliated with All Nations, an international missions organization based in Kansas City, Mo. Mary Ho, the group’s international executive leader, said in a statement that All Nations has contacted the U.S. State Department and is cooperating with officials in India. “John was a gracious and sensitive ambassador of Jesus Christ who wanted others to know of God’s great love for them,” Ho said. “As we grieve for our friend, and pray for all those who mourn his death, we also know that he would want us to pray for those who may have been responsible for his death.” Ho asked for prayer with the hope that “John’s sacrificial efforts will bear eternal fruit in due season.”

A 2014 graduate of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., Chau worked with the school’s missions and outreach department. He traveled in 2014 to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where he took part in a youth soccer program for Iraqi and Syrian refugees. He also worked with a youth soccer academy in South Africa and as a wilderness first responder who led backpacking trips to Mount Adams in southwest Washington state.

Chau previously had visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2015 and 2016. In a statement posted on Instagram, his family described him as a “beloved son, brother, uncle,” and implored Indian authorities to pardon the fishermen who helped him make the journey. “He loved God, life, helping those in need, and he had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people,” his family said.

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Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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  •  jrmbasso's picture
    Posted: Fri, 11/23/2018 12:33 pm

    I am reminded of another missionary, Jim Elliot, who along with 4 others was killed carrying the life saving gospel of Jesus the very Son of God to the Huaorani people of Ecuador. I pray that God will use the sacrifice of John Allen Chau to bring salvation to the people of North Sentinel Island.

    Thank you Onize Ohikere for your careful work to bring us the truth of this missionary's work in Jesus name.

  • SierraPadre
    Posted: Fri, 11/23/2018 11:45 pm

    I am not sure that this admirable and well-intentioned young man should be lionized or equated with Jim Eliot. 

    This article in WORLD avoids mentioning it, but the key fact is that the Indian government enacted a law prohibiting access to the island and forbidding contact with the people there.  The reason for the law was not to prohibit the proclamation of the gospel, but rather to protect this people group from being overcome by the outiside world, especially to keep them from being decimated by contact with illnesses for which they have no immunities; and to protect intruders from likely bodily harm or death.  To violate this law was a very serious matter, potentially showing grave disregard for the health and survival of the Sentinelese.  If the law had been a prohibition on evangelism, then of course faithful Christians shoud violate it.  But that was not the case.  If the government of India were illegitimate, or had no properly functioning rule of law, then again perhaps the law should be violated.  But since none of these conditions applies, it would seem that Romans 13:1-5 does apply.

    I am surprised that the WORLD article fails to mention this issue of legality and epidemiological protection.  I do notice that the author acknowledges the issue in a very back-handed way, by noting that the young man's family members have asked the Indian government to pardon the fishermen who assisted him in reaching the Sentinelese.  But we are not told in the WORLD article what the pardon would be for.  Based on other sources, I have explained it here.  Some have claimed that the Indian government had previously rescinded the law, but this seems unlikely to be the case since the family is asking for pardon for the fishermen who broke the law in assisting the young American. 

    Was it proper to violate a duly enacted law of this type?  Jim Eliot violated no Ecuadorean law when he sought out the Aucas many decades ago.  

  • D J Duran
    Posted: Tue, 11/27/2018 10:29 am

    How is a person supposed to proclaim the gospel to these people without breaking this law? They have no radios or televisions to hear the message. Do they even have a written language, to drop leaflets? I hope and trust Mr Chau ensured he was heatthy before his visits. Besides, is not eternal life a prize so precious that risking disease transmission is worth it? God is sovereign over all these details. I pray the seeds planted in Mr Chau's earlier visits bear fruit.