John Allen Chau was a young American who was determined to reach the Sentinelese people with the Gospel. He worked hard to prepare himself for an initial encounter with this tribal group. Unfortunately, in the providence of God, his attempt to communicate the love of God with this fierce and isolated tribe ended when he was killed by them last month. Like other missionary martyrs who have preceded him, John Chau placed his passion for making Christ known above his own safety. This month we are letting John speak from the grave by sharing excerpts from his journal in the days before his murder.
“I’ve been in a safe house in Port Blair since returning from Hut Bay, Little Andaman for the past eleven days!”
“Being stuck in the safe house meant that I hadn’t seen any full sunlight till today…the benefit is that I was essentially in quarantine.”
“[British Colonialists] failed to be a blessing to the nations and rejected the commands of Jesus.”
“The meeting [with fishermen] went well – I trust, although I am the only English speaker so there is quite a language gap; I am relying on the holy spirit to direct us.”
“Remember, the first one to heaven wins.”
“God, I thank you for choosing me, before I was even yet formed in my mother’s womb, to be Your messenger of Your Good news to the people of North Sentinel Island.”
“Even my heritage points to you – me, an American citizen, part Irish, part Native American (Choctaw), part African, and part Chinese and southeast Asian – thank You Father for using me, for shaping me and molding me to be Your ambassador.”
“Please continue to keep all of us indeed hidden from the physical and spiritual forces who desire to keep the people here in darkness. Holy Spirit please open the hearts of the tribe to receive me and by receiving me, to receive You. May Your kingdom, Your rule and reign come now to North Sentinel Island. My life is in your hands, O Father, so into Your hands I commit my Spirit.”
“His plan will succeed and I pray that not my will nor my plan be done but only His good, pleasing and perfect will. Forever You Jesus, are to be praised.”
“Left last night around 2000 and arrived around 2230 or so but as we went north along the eastern shore, we saw boat lights in distance along the north shore and turned around. Headed south along the eastern shore and evaded them, went along the southern shore and up along the western shore. All along the way, our boat was highlighted by bioluminescent planktons – and as fish jumped nearby, we could see their line darting mermaids shimmering along. The Milky Way was above and God himself was shielding us from the coast guard and navy patrols.”
“One blocked while other waded along the coast, then little third with bow and arrow came down the middle and I figured that this was it.”
“They had two arrows each, unstrung, until they got closer.”
“…well built with a round face one fly on right face cheek and yellowish pigment in circles on his cheeks and about 5ft 5”.”
“[I] disembarked my kayak to show them that I too have two legs.”
“My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you. Jesus Christ gave me authority to come to you. Here is some fish!”
“I regret I began to panic slightly as I saw them string arrows in their bows. He threw the fish toward them, but the men kept running and were almost within arrow range.”
“I stumbled back and 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.”
“I turned and paddled like I never have in my life back to the boat. I felt some fear but mainly was disappointed they didn’t accept me right away. I can now say I’ve been nearly shot by the Sentinelese.”
“They burst out laughing most of the time, so they probably were saying bad words or insulting me. They were also yelling into the forest behind the hut.”
“I couldn’t tell if they were truly unarmed or not. So still I got a safe distance away and dropped off the fish and gifts and at first they poled their dugout past the gifts and were coming at me, then they turned and grabbed the gifts.”
“Then the little kid with bow and arrow came down the middle and I figured that was it.”
“The little man shot me with an arrow – directly into my Bible which I was holding off my chest. I grabbed the arrow shaft in front it broke in my Bible (on pg 433 Isaiah 63:5-65:2) and felt the arrowhead. It was metal, thin but very sharp.”
“I saw the boat with figures with their arms up waving and I thought briefly that another group of Sentinelese had attacked the boat while they were watching me but thank God that wasn’t the case. Although I now have no kayak, or my small pelican and its contents, I’m grateful that I still have the written word of God.”
“I’m scared… There, I said it…also frustrated and uncertain – is it worth me going on feet to meet them?”
“Lord… 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. I DON’T WANT to DIE! Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else continue? No. I don’t think so – I’m stuck here anyway without a passport and have been off the grid. I still could make it back to the US somehow as it almost seems like certain death to stay here. Yet there is evidenced change in just two encounters in a single day. Will try again tomorrow.”
“Watching the sunset and its beautiful – crying a bit… wondering if it’ll be the last sunset I see before being in the place where the sun never sets…”
“God, I don’t want to die. Who will take my place if I do? Oh God, I miss my parents, my mom and my dad… 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 them if they succeed.”
“What made them become this defensive and hostile? Legends passed down through the millennia 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 whitish light filled it and all the frightening bits melted away.”
“Lord is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had a chance to hear your name?”
“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.”
“If it goes badly on foot the fisherman won’t have to bear witness to my death.”
“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.”
“You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people. Please do not be angry at them or at God If I get killed – 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. Don’t retrieve my body. 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 pray that you will never love anything in this world more than you love Christ.”
“Soli Deo Gloria, John Chau”
Max Burak, Sophomore Bible Major
Why? Why Me?
Why do I have to wake up at 5:30 every morning?
Why’d I have to turn down that counselor spot at the Wilds?
Why do I have to work two jobs while some of my friends get to do whatever they want?
Why does my family not make nearly as much as some of the other families in ministry?
If I’ve got to witness for God anyway, why can’t I be doing it on some exciting trip across the world?
Why? Why? WHY?
These were the questions that regularly popped into my mind during the first few weeks of summer. I was frustrated.
Growing up as a “PK” (pastor’s kid), I’ve heard Mark 16:15 more times than I can count. The verse of course talks about going into “the whole world” to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
After spending a year at Bob Jones University, and having numerous summer opportunities thrown in my lap, I was ready to live out this verse! I was ready to go out in the world for God and come back to school from a rewarding summer full of a fruitful harvest of souls!
However, going back to Ace Hardware and Tim Horton’s to work wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for this past summer. Listening to old men babble on and on about their latest car problem isn’t my favorite thing in the world, and having a middle-aged business woman yell impatiently for her mocha isn’t exactly my cup of tea…or coffee for that matter.
But, I wanted to get back to school for sophomore year, and my bank account wasn’t going to allow that unless I got some serious money, which is why I couldn’t afford to take a counselor spot or go on a mission trip.
So, there I was, sharpening lawn mower blades and toasting asiago bagels.
Then one day, while unloading a truck with one of my co-workers (we’ll call him Timothy), something came to mind. Tim was still working. Now, before you wonder why that’s odd, let me explain.
I had met Tim the year before, one of the first guys I ever met on the job. He’s two years older than me, has short dark curly hair, and treats everyday as a party. I had never met someone quite like him. He quickly became my main witnessing “target.”
Of course, in a work place, between a steady flow of customers and a strict boss, there aren’t exactly prime opportunities to strike up a deep spiritual conversation with a fellow co-worker. So, I resorted to the only other thing I knew. I prayed for him like I’d never prayed for any other unsaved friend. I continually thought of Colossians 4:2-6 where it talks about having an “open door for the Word.” I prayed. I prayed every night for Timothy.
Then, the week before I left for freshman year, I heard the news that he was getting his long awaited apprenticeship and wouldn’t be back by the time I returned next summer.
At school, I continued to pray. I tried to remember him every night and would even mention him in prayer meetings.
So, long story short, I get back and he was still working! He told me that the apprenticeship had fallen through and that he’d be sticking around a bit longer.
Interesting. Maybe God would provide a witnessing opportunity after all?
Back to prayer. Shoot him a text. More prayer. Ugh, how could I get a time to talk to him about the Gospel?!
Then, finally, on a slow Friday night, we had ended up on the same closing shift (which is rare).
There we were, stocking nuts and bolts, and I saw my chance for a conversation.
“Tim, don’t you ever get tired of going out every night and getting drunk?”
He surprisingly responded, “You know Maximillz, yea, I do.”
Well, one question led to another, and suddenly, we were talking about family, then religion, then… eternity.
Tim was close to tears, we had somehow gotten away with talking for two hours about where he was spiritually and how he could fix his sin. I’d never felt the Holy Spirit work like that before. It was absolutely incredible.
He had some more questions, and after we closed, we headed over to the church where we sat with my Dad.
We talked for another solid hour and Tim prayed. I honestly don’t know if he came to accept Christ as Savior that night. I don’t know if he fully understood, but I do know that God had answered my prayers. He had given me that open door to share the Gospel.
I was utterly blown away. I can’t even describe it. It was amazing!
Then, the next week, Tim got an apprenticeship and I never worked with him again.
After that experience, God gave me other conversations with unsaved co-workers. He opened my eyes to why he had me back in those jobs. There are many stories I could tell you, but this is the one that sticks out to me. The Lord revealed my selfishness at that point.
At the end of summer, I was asking some new questions to myself.
Why did I doubt God could use me anywhere?
Why did I complain so much?
Why did I think I needed to go somewhere else to proclaim God’s truth?
Why does school have to start so soon?
God is good! We shouldn’t doubt His plans. He’ll provide witnessing opportunities as long as we are willing to serve Him and go where he wants.
Jeriel Ontoy, Sophomore Communication Major
I could not see. I stumbled along the steep mountain path guided by a team member wielding a cheap flashlight about five feet away.
Dim city lights and dark silhouettes of rice paddies, which rested at the base of several mountains, scattered the landscape for miles on end. Every ounce of my energy had quickly faded away as I desperately struggled to reach the peak of the mountain.
Suddenly, a blaring chant hauntingly groaned in every direction. Its call, a startling shock to me, was a typical beckoning for the Javanese people to arise from their pre-dawn breakfast and perform the first of five prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. At that moment, I felt the physical darkness of early morning, but I also sensed the spiritual darkness of hundreds of thousands of people who were metaphorically fumbling up a mountain of rituals and regulations trying to appease Allah. My heart was burdened for these lost souls.
Who would give these seekers answers to their questions? Who would give them peace?
This summer I was privileged to be a member of the Southeast Asia team (SEA Team), which was led by Dr. Oberlin. Our team ministered in Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia for six weeks. Our team was involved in a variety of ministries, ranging from cleaning a small church in Indonesia to teaching ESL classes as a bridge for the Gospel in Thailand.
Some highlights of the trip were preaching and teaching pastors and church leaders at a pastor’s conference in the Kachin state of Myanmar, counseling at a missionary kids’ camp in Dolphin Bay, distributing Gospel literature in Bangkok, running a children’s program at two different Singaporean church camps in Malaysia; lecturing at an evangelism conference in Singapore, and expanding my knowledge of the relationship between Islam and Christianity in Indonesia.
Looking back at the lives our team impacted, I am overjoyed to see how God was actively working through the SEA Team to see Christians all around the world discipled. I believe that too often, we as believers can become so narrow-minded and comfortable in our “American Christianity” that we forget that God is working to draw all “nations, tribes, and tongues” unto Himself. Being able to witness personally God orchestrating events expanded my view of the sovereignty and grace of God.
There are so many stories I wish I could tell you about how God’s name was magnified as people were directed to Christ. One amazing event occurred with Burmese pastors and church leaders.
Many of these pastors had no Christian resources, no proper training in hermeneutics, and no biblically-based view of discipleship. To try and remedy this situation, our team held a conference with the goal of equipping these leaders with tools that they needed to be effective in their various ministries. While the men on our team were busy preaching, teaching, and creating sermons with the Burmese pastors, the ladies on our team discussed the importance of biblical counseling, dependence on God’s Word, and prayer-saturated ministry. At first, this task was somewhat depressing because our team received very little feedback, and it seemed that the group was not comprehending the material. We spent every night preparing notes for the sessions and pleading with God to do a great work among the church leaders.
On the last day, something changed. The leaders finally began to understand the information. I was thrilled to see these servants of God have their eyes opened; they were equipped with Biblical truth that they, in turn, can bring back to their congregations and instruct in ways of righteousness.
Back to the question above, who will give the seekers the truth? Who will provide them with the answers?
As I reached the peak of the mountain, the sun began to rise. Its warmth and light were a comfort to a weary hiker. This is the Gospel: allowing the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus to shine brightly into darkened hearts and minds so that those who tread in the drudgery of darkness may be converted and transferred into the kingdom of light.
You and I must share the truth of the Gospel! I understand that you might not have the opportunity to preach in Singapore, but you can testify to your unsaved relative. You may not ever counsel teenagers in Thailand, but you can share the Gospel with those whom God has placed in your life right here in Greenville.
God’s Gospel is powerful, but if we allow our sin or unwillingness to hide the Gospel, we hide the Gospel from those who need it the most. We must remember that God is arranging all of history to bring Himself glory by pointing to Christ, the Savior of mankind. He has called you and me to be His ambassadors.
Reach beyond yourself. Proclaim this Gospel. Turn the world upside down.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.