Author Topic: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders  (Read 7634 times)

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Offline John Albert

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American missionary believed killed by isolated tribe knew the risks, friends say

By Darran Simon and Chris Boyette, CNN | Updated 7:51 PM ET, Thu November 22, 2018



(CNN) John Allen Chau was an adventurer who hiked in North Cascades National Park in the Pacific Northwest, traveled to Israel and went on mission trips to South Africa. But he was always drawn to North Sentinel Island off the coast of India, and the people there.

The Sentinelese live in isolation on the remote island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, protected by Indian law to maintain their way of life and protect them from modern illnesses because they lack immunity. Chau took a scouting trip to the Andaman islands several years ago and told people of his desire to return, said a friend, John Middleton Ramsey.

Chau's zeal to spread the Christian gospel took him back to the remote island, where he apparently was killed last week by tribespeople after trespassing, authorities said. Contact with the isolated tribe is prohibited. But those who knew the American missionary are calling him a martyr for the Christian faith.

"He was someone who died out of love for these people to bring the good news of Jesus Christ," Ramsey, 22, said in an interview Wednesday from Cologne, Germany.

'We refuse to call him a tourist'

Indian authorities say Chau was 27, but Mat Staver, founder of a Christian ministry that Chau was involved with as a college student, gave Chau's age as 26.
Chau came to India on a tourist visa but traveled to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in October to proselytize, according to Dependra Pathak, director general of police of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

"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," he said.

Just more than a dozen people are believed to live on the island, which is a protected area. People are not allowed to go within 5 nautical miles of the island after previous instances of aggressive behavior toward outsiders. In 2006, the tribes killed two local fishermen.

Chau asked a local friend, an electronic engineer, to get a boat and find several fishermen and a water sports expert to help with the expedition, according to Pathak.

The fishermen said they used "a wooden boat fitted with motors to travel to the island on November 15," Pathak said.
The boat stopped a little less than half a mile away and Chau "used a canoe to reach the shore of the island," Pathak said. Chau returned later that day with arrow injuries. On November 16, "the (tribespeople) broke his canoe."
"So, he came back to the boat swimming. He did not come back on the 17th; the fishermen later saw the tribespeople dragging his body around," Pathak said.
Police haven't independently verified Chau's death, but they believe he was killed, based on the account of the fishermen. Authorities have yet to recover Chau's body.

'He loved Jesus'

Raised in Vancouver, Washington, Chau was first drawn to the outdoors after discovering a copy of "Robinson Crusoe" while in elementary school, he said in an article several years ago in The Outbound Collective, a website and app that helps people discover the outdoors.
He and his brother would paint their faces with wild blackberry juice and run around their backyard with bows and spears made from sticks, according to the article.

Chau graduated from Oral Roberts University, where he got involved with Covenant Journey, the Christian ministry that takes college students on immersion trips to Israel, according to Staver, who is the group's chairman.

Chau traveled to Israel with Covenant Journey, and to South Africa on missions with a group at Oral Roberts, Staver said.

"John loved people, and he loved Jesus. He was willing to give his life to share Jesus with the people on North Sentinel island," Staver said in a press release. "Ever since high school, John wanted to go to North Sentinel to share Jesus with this indigenous people."

Chau knew the risks but it 'didn't frighten him'

Chau did not tell police of his intentions to travel to North Sentinel to attempt to convert its inhabitants, officials said. But he told a few people close to him, like Ramsey, who said Chau knew the island was a restricted area and his mission there was illegal.

Ramsey, who met Chau in August 2015 on a Covenant Journey trip to Israel, said they "both had a passion for sharing our faith with others."

When Chau returned from this scouting trip, Ramsey recalled Chau talked about his plans to return to the remote region, bearing gifts for the Sentinelese people. He said he wanted to get to know the islanders' way of life, eventually share the gospel and perhaps translate the Bible, Ramsey recalled.

"I kind of gathered that he would have been open to staying there for the rest of his life, but he didn't explicitly say that," Ramsey said.

Ramsey said Chau knew the risks, "but it didn't seem to frighten him."

"He believed he was going to heaven, going to be with God if he died," Ramsey said.

For that reason, Chau didn't want anyone to come with him to the island and put their lives in danger, Staver said.

"He went back himself knowing that he would be in danger."

Norwegian geneticist Erika Hagelberg described the larger group of Andaman Islanders as "arguably the most enigmatic people on our planet." They are made up of several tribal groups, who were largely isolated until the island chain was turned into a British penal colony in the 19th century.

Survival International, a nongovernmental group that says it is dedicated to tribal peoples' rights, said Indian authorities should ensure outsiders not make contact with the tribe, because of the risk of disease or threats to their land.

"The Sentinelese have shown again and again that they want to be left alone, and their wishes should be respected," the group said. "The British colonial occupation of the Andaman Islands decimated the tribes living there, wiping out thousands of tribespeople, and only a fraction of the original population now survive. So, the Sentinelese fear of outsiders is very understandable."

'This faith is worth dying for'

In a post on his Instagram page, Chau's relatives said: "He loved God, life, helping those in need, and had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people."
They remembered him as a beloved family member. To others, he was "a Christian missionary, a wilderness EMT, an international soccer coach, and a mountaineer," his family wrote.

To Ramsey, Chau is a modern-day Jim Elliot -- an American evangelical Christian who was killed in a mission in Ecuador in the 1950s. His friend may be able to reach more people in death than in life, Ramsey said.

"This can make a statement to the world that this faith is worth dying for, I suppose," Ramsey said.
Whole story, including video: https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/21/us/missionary-john-chau/index.html
« Last Edit: November 23, 2018, 03:58:42 PM by John Albert »

Offline Rai

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2018, 01:15:38 PM »
I am very happy that the Sentinelse nation successfully protected themselves from an invader who came to destroy them and their culture.

If all aboriginal nations could have done this, the world would be a better place.

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2018, 04:00:51 PM »
I read an account in the New York Times which differed in several details (for instance, it said there are 50-100 people on the island and that the buffer zone is 3 miles).  It also went into the history of Western interaction with the island, including that in the 1800’s five of the island’s Inhabitants were captured and carried off to another island for study in captivity, where the adults quickly died of disease before the children were returned to the island.  It seems entirely reasonable for them to distrust outsiders after that experience.  I’m glad that the Indian government is so fierce in protecting them, and that they seem to be doing it for all the right reasons (to preserve their culture and protect them from disease).

I find it interesting that the island is believed to have been settled from Africa instead of the Indian subcontinent, and that their language seems to be mutually unintelligible with that of neighboring islands.  It would be fascinating to know more about them and their origins, but that would clearly be impossible without destroying their culture entirely.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2018, 04:04:01 PM by The Latinist »
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Offline amysrevenge

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2018, 04:04:42 PM »
There was also an episode of the Omnibus podcast about this island.  I believe they killed a Kennedy sometime in the middle of the previous century.
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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2018, 05:29:45 PM »
So potentially he could've killed everyone there through disease.

Offline amysrevenge

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2018, 05:39:48 PM »
Yeah but then they'd be with Jesus.  Good grief.
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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2018, 12:13:15 AM »
A late contender for the 2018 Darwin Award  ???

Offline xenu

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2018, 11:07:47 AM »
If he was Mormon he would have had his magic underwear on and this wouldn't have happened. Next time just send Mormons.
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Offline Noisy Rhysling

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2018, 11:11:26 AM »
If he was Mormon he would have had his magic underwear on and this wouldn't have happened. Next time just send Mormons.
Yes, please! Lots and lots of Mormon.

I'll send crossbows and bolts. Lots and lots of crossbows and bolts.
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Offline Rai

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2018, 12:19:07 PM »
I find it interesting that the island is believed to have been settled from Africa instead of the Indian subcontinent, and that their language seems to be mutually unintelligible with that of neighboring islands.  It would be fascinating to know more about them and their origins, but that would clearly be impossible without destroying their culture entirely.

The Sentinelese are most probably the remnants of the first migration out of Africa that populated South-South-East Asia. It is quite possible that they are the oldest culture on the planet.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2018, 06:58:47 PM »
I would never advocate or condone the killing of anyone, but missionaries should all be thrown in prison for presuming to think that their culture is "better" or their make-believe magic man in the sky more "real" than the cultures or the imaginary friends of other peoples. To hell with them all. They convert a portion of the population which results in discord and wars for centuries after. Missionaries are lower than politicians, lawyers, or judges. Missionaries are worse than used-car salesmen. Missionaries are the anopheles mosquitoes of the human race.
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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2018, 03:26:12 AM »
I don't wish evil on anyone but he did pretty much everything you can do wrong for all of the wrong reasons. I can only assume people around him encouraged it and to me they are complicit. Trouble is, none of them will learn from it.

Offline Noisy Rhysling

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2018, 06:34:27 AM »
It's a shame they aren't cannibals.

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2018, 02:10:08 PM »
I was reading that he did not want to die. . .My thoughts are that then he should not have tried to go to the island.
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Christian missionary missing, presumed killed by Sentinelese islanders
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2018, 02:19:08 PM »
I don’t believe that for a moment.  He wanted to die a martyr.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell