Ever since we learned that American man John Allen Chau was killed by an isolated tribe off the coast of India in hopes of converting them to Christianity, evidence has surfaced that proves beyond all doubt that Chau had no defensible reason to be there.
Chau, for those who don’t know, was trying to convert the Sentinelese, one of the last peoples to not have any sustained contact with the outside world. Their home island, North Sentinel Island off the coast of India, is off limits to outsiders—in large part because the Sentinelese have been isolated for so long that they lack genetic immunity to most pathogens. Even diseases like the common cold could literally kill them.
According to the fishermen Chau bribed to take him to the island, the Sentinelese riddled his body with arrows and buried it in the sand. Indeed, Indian officials announced today that they have abandoned further attempts to recover his body, rightly concluding that the risk was simply too great.
Well, earlier this week we got an answer to another question—how did Chau get over there, and who supported him? Well, it turns out he had some help from a missionary outfit here in the States. Namely, All Nations, based in Kansas City.
The leader of the Christian missionary group that helped train him, Kansas City-based All Nations, refrained on Tuesday from saying that she regrets sending Chau on what would be his fatal mission, or that she might have prevented it.
She does not think he was ill-prepared.
“He was just emotionally, culturally, physically, intellectually very, very well prepared,” she said.
The organization has more than 200 missionaries operating in some 40 countries and paying their own way. But it had never before trained a missionary to venture into a land known to be so uniquely violent. But Mary Ho, the group’s international executive leader, told The Star on Tuesday that long before Chau came to All Nations and Kansas City, he had his mind made up.
The idea to try to evangelize to the Sentinelese was his, crafted in his teens.
So they prepared him to go even though they knew going to that island was illegal. But did anyone at All Nations look into why it was illegal? That’s the key question.
I’m friends with a few missionaries from my church in Charlotte. No sponsoring organization worth its salt would send people overseas without really knowing the lay of the land. And if All Nations did any kind of research into the Sentinelese, they would have known that the reason the island is off limits is because contact with outsiders could literally wipe them out. If they knew and still continued to prepare him to go, then they are ultimately responsible for Chau’s death. From where I’m sitting, Ho and the rest of the leadership at All Nations need to explain themselves—under oath.
It may be easy to spin this as a case of martyrdom, given how rough Christians have it in India. But considering all the evidence, it cannot be stated enough—Chau had no defensible reason to even be over there. He was trespassing on an island that was off limits for the very survival of a tribe that has no genetic immunity.