John Allen Chau, an evangelical blogger and missionary from the United States, was born in Scottsboro, Alabama on December 18, 1991. He was the third child in a Christian family and had a passion for adventure and missions. In fact, he traveled to Mexico and Indonesia as a teenager to help with local development projects.
In 2015, Chau became fascinated by the lifestyle of one of the last remaining uncontacted indigenous tribes in the world: the Sentinelese. He learns their language, their culture and becomes fascinated by their isolation from the outside world. So much so that he believed he could bring them the Gospel and that they would accept him into their tribe. Without knowing it, Chau had signed his death warrant.
In November 2018, Chau illegally traveled to North Sentinel, one of the 300 islands that are part of the Andaman archipelago, very close to the Indian coast, and where the Sentinels live. Aware that laws protecting indigenous tribes bar outsiders, Chau paid several local fishermen to take him there, determined to spread his religion.
But he had to make the journey to Sentinel Island alone, aboard a kayak. Once there, Chau attempted to make contact. According to the podcast Awaken your curiosity of National geographic, he shouted to them “My name is John. I love you. Jesus loves you.” The Sentinels, however, became hostile and shot arrows at him and chased him away.
John, convinced that his mission in this life was to evangelize the Sentinels, returned to North Sentinel several times. So numerous that even the tribe has become accustomed to their presence. During his last visit, on November 17, 2018, tribesmen attacked him again. This time, Chau failed to escape and ended up dying. The fishermen who accompanied him to this Indian Ocean paradise saw him buried on the beach.
Chau’s death caused great controversy. Some praised him for his courage and determination, while others criticized him for his lack of respect for the culture and autonomy of the Sentinels. The Indian government has since imposed a ban on visits to North Sentinel Island and increased protection of the tribe.