On November 17th, 2018, a young missionary named John Allen Chau, was killed by the Sentinelese on the North Sintinel Island in the Bay of Bengal.
The Sentinelese are a people who reject any contact with the outside world and are one of the world’s last un-contacted peoples. In the past they have violently opposed any outsider who has approached their island. Their population is reported to be 50-400 individuals and their language is unknown.
It was to this people that John Chau wished to bring the gospel.
He wrote in one of his final journal entries before his death, “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this, but I think its worth it to declare Jesus to these people.”
Even among Christians John Chau has received a lot of criticism for his decision to go to Sentinel island. They say he was ill-prepared and ill-trained. It seems to them that the fact that John Chau died as a result of reaching out to share the gospel with the Sentinelese people means that it was unsuccessful. But was it?
I believe its very important not to squash passion and diminish it because it doesn’t fit in the boxes we’ve created for how God works. The Bible doesn’t teach that the gospel is best preached through organizations. It never says that living out our faith will be safe. In fact, it says just the opposite.
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. (Luke 17:33)
Success is never defined as preserving your life.
In my generation we do not often see examples of Christians who are willing to give it all. Much of this generation is consumed by success, popularity, and apathy. We are a generation consumed by self. Our Christianity is safe, predictable, lukewarm. We are more of this world than merely in it (John 17:14-16).
John Chau challenges this. The faith that he had challenges me. It shames me in the best way. It gives me hope that the faith we only read of is the kind of faith we can have. God will not call all Christians to witness to an unreached people group, but he does call all Christians to have the faith that is willing to. He calls each of us to the kind of faith that would be willing to die for His Name.
If the example of this young man’s faith serves to wake us up, sober us, and give us a picture of the kind of all-consuming passion that God desires us to have, then just maybe God is already revealing a small part of the purposes behind John Chau’s death.
John Chau should not receive criticism, especially by Christians, for the decision that ultimately cost him his life.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)
The Bible promises that the gospel will reach every tribe, tongue and nation. The Sentinelese people are included in that. I believe that John Chau has helped to open our eyes and stir our hearts towards a people largely unheard of. His passion challenges our comfortable generation of nominal Christians. John Chau believed that his faith was so valuable that he reached out to a dangerous people group so that they could have it, too. His faith was stronger than the fear that he undoubtedly experienced and in the end, he gave it all.
John Chau ultimately lived for the approval of His Lord & Savior. Here in this sin filled world we live amidst the noise of a thousand opinions but John Chau lived to hear our Father say one thing at the end of this life & the beginning of his eternal one.
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)