It's been nearly two weeks since American Christian missionary John Chau was murdered on the beaches of North Sentinel Island after he illegally landed ashore the protected island in an attempt to bring the Good Book to one of the world's most isolated and misunderstood tribes.
According to multiple international reports, Chau, a 26-year-old missionary from Washington was struck down by arrows sometime around November 17 after making several attempts to make contact with the Sentinelese, a 60,000-year-old tribe that has taken aggressive measures to protect its isolation over the years and is even protected by the Indian government.
Chau knew about the danger of going to the island, and according to his friends and acquaintances, the missionary had been obsessed with the Sentinelese for at least a few years, so he had to have known there was a high probability that he would not make it off the island alive. Was Chau trying to prove to himself that he could connect with a people only a few had contacted before? Or did Chau lose his mind entirely?
Based on Chau's diary, which his family provided to the Washington Post, it sounds like the young missionary was more of a fool than a messiah. Chau initially attempted to make contact with the tribe the day before he died, writing that the men on the island were staring him down with arrows drawn. Fleeing the island, Chau yelled, "My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you" towards the tribe members on the beach.
And then he went back the next day. He wasn't as lucky this time around.
When he was attacked on the beach that second day, Chau was forced to take refuge in the mangroves just beyond the beach, writing, "Lord, is this island Satan's last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?" as he hid from his attackers. Chau was shot down with arrows the next day and the fishermen who dropped him off just days before watched as the tribe members dragged the missionary's body around the beach before fleeing to safety.
Remco Snoeij, who owns a dive shop not far from Sentinel Island first met Chau in 2016 when the missionary showed up wanting to learn how to scuba dive but over time wanted to learn more about North Sentinel Island. Snoeij recalled telling Chau that the island was off-limits and that he should avoid going there. But Chau obviously didn't heed the warning and continued with his journey two years later.
Upon hearing of his friend's death, Snoeij sounded neither surprised or shocked.
"He lost his mind, definitely," Snoeij told the Washington Post. "But ask any adventurer. You have to lose your mind a little bit, otherwise, you don't do it."
One of the most telling entries from Chau's journal shows that the missionary was obsessed with spreading the word of God, so much that he saw himself as a messiah. Writing in his journal, "God, I don't want to die. WHO WILL TAKE MY PLACE IF I DO?"
Hopefully, for the sake of others, no one makes the mistake of going to North Sentinel Island to pick up where Chau left off. The authorities don't even want to go back to the island to retrieve Chau's body, so that should tell people all they need to know about trying to make contact and "save" people who don't need to be saved.
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