Mis­sion­ary had ‘noth­ing but love’ for re­mote tribe

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - NEWS - Ashley May Con­tribut­ing: Jorge L. Or­tiz, USA TO­DAY; The As­so­ci­ated Press.

An Amer­i­can mis­sion­ary who trav­eled to an off-lim­its re­mote tribe in the Bay of Ben­gal left be­hind a diary that de­tailed his de­sire to evan­ge­lize the peo­ple who killed him.

John Allen Chau, 26, was killed by ar­rows, po­lice said this week, af­ter trav­el­ing to the An­daman Is­lands in North Sen­tinel, an In­dian ter­ri­tory. In a diary shared with The Wash­ing­ton Post by Chau’s mother, the ad­ven­turer from Wash­ing­ton state tells of how he “hollered” at the iso­lated tribe: “My name is John, I love you and Je­sus loves you.” The en­try also shares how a child shot at him with an ar­row that pierced his wa­ter­proof Bi­ble.

In­dian gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions for­bid in­ter­ac­tion with the Sen­tine­lese, who are known to shoot ar­rows at out­siders. P.C. Joshi, an an­thro­pol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Delhi Univer­sity who has stud­ied the is­lands, said the iso­lated tribe has lit­tle re­sis­tance to dis­eases and could die from con­tact with out­siders.

“You guys might think I’m crazy in all this, but I think it’s worth­while to de­clare Je­sus to these peo­ple,” he wrote in his last note to fam­ily, the Post re­ports. “God, I don’t want to die.”

Au­thor­i­ties have since ar­rested seven peo­ple ac­cused of help­ing Chau reach the is­land. Chau paid the fish­er­man $325 to take him close to the is­land, and he then pad­dled to shore on a kayak with a Bi­ble, gifts and food, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials.

“Why does this beau­ti­ful place have to have so much death here?” he wrote in a diary hours be­fore his death. “I hope this isn’t one of my last notes but if it is ‘to God be the Glory.’ “

Days af­ter Chau ar­rived at the is­land, fish­er­men saw tribes­men drag Chau’s body along the beach and bury his re­mains.

His fam­ily said in a state­ment shared on Chau’s In­sta­gram ac­count that he had “noth­ing but love for the Sen­tine­lese peo­ple” and they “for­give those re­port­edly re­spon­si­ble for his death.” They also asked for the re­lease of those who helped him travel to the is­land, say­ing Chau “ven­tured out on his own free will.”

Chau was a grad­u­ate of Oral Roberts Univer­sity, a Chris­tian col­lege in Ok­la­homa. He was known to spend sum­mers alone in a Cal­i­for­nia cabin as a wilder­ness emer­gency re­spon­der, led back­pack­ing ex­pe­di­tions in the North­west’s Cas­cade Moun­tains, al­most lost his leg to a rat­tlesnake bite and coached soc­cer for poor chil­dren in Iraq and South Africa.

“I have never known a more coura­geous, self­less, com­pas­sion­ate man and friend,” said Bobby Parks, a former direc­tor of Oral Roberts Univer­sity’s de­part­ment of mis­sions and out­reach. “John lived and gave his life to share the love of Je­sus with ev­ery­one.”


John Allen Chau, right, with Casey Prince, founder of Ubuntu Foot­ball Academy in Cape Town, South Africa, days be­fore he left for North Sen­tinel Is­land.

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