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 earlier 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.”
Contributing: Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY; The Associated Press. Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets
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