- JohnAChau/Instagram via Reuters
- American missionary John Allen Chau was killed while visiting the isolated North Sentinel Island last week.
- Members of the indigenous and isolated Sentinelese tribe shot the 26-year-old dead with arrows and buried on his beach, police said.
- He knew how dangerous it would be, and told people about his trip plan as long ago as 2016, a friend told BuzzFeed News and CNN.
- His friends didn’t stop him from going, either. Ramsey said: “I encouraged him and said if that’s what God is calling him to do, then I was very much behind it.”
John Allen Chau, who died at the hands of a remote Indian tribe last week, planned his perilous visit for at least two years, and friends didn’t stop him as they believed he was doing God’s work.
Chau, a 26-year-old missionary and self-styled explorer, was killed after visiting North Sentinel Island last week.
Members of the indigenous Sentinelese tribe shot him dead with arrows and buried his body on the beach, Indian police said.
Visiting the island is highly dangerous, and also illegal. Even government officials from the neighboring islands don’t go there. The Sentinelese have virtually no contact with the world and are known to attack foreign visitors.
Chau’s friend, John Middleton Ramsey, is not surprised by Chau’s death.
The 22-year-old told BuzzFeed News that Chau had been planning his trip for at least two years, and that a “fair amount” of people had known about the trip in advance.
Ramsey told BuzzFeed: “I don’t know what exactly prompted him to be interested in them rather than some other group, but I know a big reason was that they are some of the most isolated people and he had a passion for reaching them with Christ, for they had never even heard about him.”
“I encouraged him and said if that’s what God is calling him to do, then I was very much behind it,” he added.
In another interview, with CNN: “He was someone who died out of love for these people to bring the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Chau had an email list to whom he would send updates of his travels, including to North Sentinel Island.
Chau appeared to acknowledge the dangers of the trip in his final diary entries, where he wrote: “God, I don’t want to die.” He claimed that God had shielded him from Indian authorities, who would have stopped him going to the island.
- Indian coast guard
Chau appeared keen to bring Christianity to the island, whose people are averse to any foreign intrusion.
On his first trip to the island on November 15, said that he “hollered, ‘My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you,'” according to one of his final diary entries, published by The Washington Post. A young boy fired an arrow at him in response, which speared his waterproof Bible.
He died when he returned the next day.
Dependra Pathak, the director-general of police of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, told CNN: “We refuse to call him a tourist. Yes, he came on a tourist visa, but he came with a specific purpose to preach on a prohibited island.”
Police are now having trouble retrieving Chau’s body from the island, because even law-enforcement officers don’t visit. They are consulting anthropologists, tribal welfare experts and scholars to figure out a way to do so.