For three years, American John Allen Chau, 26, a graduate of Oral Roberts University, was planning to bring the gospel to a remote tribe on islands in the Indian Sea. In particular he wanted to visit North Sentinel Island, where the isolated Sentinelese tribal group lived.
The Indian government had declared the island off-limits because it believed they were the world’s last “pre-Neolithic” tribe. The group was very protective of their privacy. A few years earlier, two fisherman who landed on the island were killed by the tribesmen.
Despite the danger, on November 15, 2018, John arranged for fishermen to take him close to the island where he kayaked in. He wrote of his first encounter in a journal that he left on the fisherman’s boat.
In the journal, he described his first encounter, his fears and a vision he received and his decision to return to the island.
He described the tribesmen as short, 5′ 5″, wearing yellow paint on their face.
Some were friendly while others appeared angry and aggressive. He offered them gifts that included fish, a football and implements such as bobby pins.
During his first brief contact, he was shot at with an arrow (often poisoned), that pierced his Bible. He described the assailant as a child, but he wasn’t sure because of the group’s shorter size.
“I stumbled back and I recall yelling at the kid for shooting me — now as I look back at it, my Bible cover looks like bark– like tree bark, so maybe he was just curious but yikes, it sure gave me a fright.”
When the encounter turned violent he fled to the water with the group in pursuit. John chose to swim back to the fisherman’s boat and not return by his kayak that was further away.
The next day he returned to the island telling the fishermen he would be staying for a while. The fishermen left with plans to return that night.
The Daily Mail received a copy of John’s journal and provided excerpts that spoke of his fears:
‘The plan now is to rest and sleep on the boat and in the morning to drop me off by the [can’t read] and then I walk along the beach toward the same hut I’ve been giving gifts to.
John expresses his fear:
“It’s weird – actually no, it’s natural: I’m scared. There, I said it. Also frustrated and uncertain – is it worth me going on foot to meet them?
“Now they have attacked me… unfortunately HP won’t go with me and only stays on the vessel. The language gap is tough too or it’s hard to get good input – Lord let your will be true.
“If you want me to get actually shot or even killed with an arrow then so be it. I think I could be more useful alive though, but to you, God, I give all the glory of whatever happens.
“God, I don’t want to die. WHO WILL TAKE MY PLACE IF I DO? OH GOD I miss my parents, my mom and dad and Brian and Mary and Norah and Jeremy and Jill and Jennifer and Seth and Bobby… and Christian and someone I can talk to and be understood.
“None of the guys on the boat know much English and I don’t know much Hindi or how to ask their opinions and to tell stuff like this to.
“I’ve never felt this much grief or sorrow before. WHY! Why did a little kid have to shoot me today? His high-pitched voice still lingers in my head.
“Father, forgive him and any of the people on this island who try to kill me… and especially forgive me if they succeed.
“What makes them so defensive and hostile? Legends passed down through millenia of their escape from a slave ship? Why does this beautiful place have to have so much death here?
“Last night, I had what I’d call a vision as I’ve never had one before – my eyes were shut but I wasn’t asleep and I saw a purple hue over an island-like city as a meteorite or star fell to it and it was a frightening city with jagged spires and I felt distressed.
“Then a different light, a whiteish light filled it and all the frightening bits melted away.
“Lord, this island, Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had a chance to hear your name?
Prays for God’s strength
“Lord, strengthen me as I need your strength and protection and guidance and all that you give and are. Whoever comes after me to take my place, whether it’s after tomorrow or another time, please give them a double anointing and bless them mightily.
‘The plan for [November 16th] is to drop me at the cache and then the boat will leave for the day, returning at night, if it goes badly on foot, the fishermen won’t have to bear witness to my death.’
“Alternative is to either wait… and go back to Port Blair without any documents and stay in the safe house again and put all at risk (why are we so afraid of death?) or get deported.
John decision to return:
“If I leave, I believe I will have failed the mission.
“Perfect LOVE casts out fear. Lord Jesus, fill me with your perfect love for these people!
“Woke up after a fairly restful sleep, heading to island now. I hope this isn’t my last notes but if it is, to God be the glory.
“One thought occurred to me last night: only young adults were seen and kids, but no elderly – are they separated and must stay on the shore? Are the elderly in the jungle?
“I’m heading back to the hut I’ve been to. Praying it goes well.”
Concerned that he might die in this second encounter, John, who is from Vancouver, Washington, wrote a letter to his parents not to be “mad at them or at God” if he dies, adding:
“Rather please live your lives in obedience to whatever he has called you to and I’ll see you again when you pass through the veil. This is not a pointless thing, the eternal lives of this tribe is at hand and I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshiping in their own language as Revelation 7:9-10 states.
“I love you all and I pray none of you love anything in this world more than I love Jesus Christ.”
It didn’t go well. John was killed and the fisherman saw the tribesmen dragging his body along the beach and burying it in the sand. Plans are underway about how best to get his body.
It is interesting that John cited the book of Revelation in his letter to his parents, because the book also describes the faith and courage of end times believers:
11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even [a]when faced with death. (Revelation 12:11 NASV)
- ‘They shot me with an arrow – directly into my Bible’: Missionary’s journal reveals tribe also tried to shoot him the day before they killed him and he wrote ‘Father, forgive them if they succeed’: Daily Mail
- Breaking: ORU grad killed by remote tribesmen: Charisma
- American killed by bow and arrow-wielding tribe while trying to visit remote Indian tribe: Foxnews
- ‘Jesus loves you’: U.S. missionary killed by remote tribe on Indian island went there to convert locals: National Post