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A Modern Martyr: the Life and Death of John Allen Chau

According to Wikipedia, 63% of the worldwide population in 2021 has access to the internet and 90% of the worldwide population had electricity according to the World Bank in 2020. In a world like that, it can be hard to believe that over 7,000 people groups have little to no access to the gospel. And one young man tried to make that number 6,999.

John Allen Chau was a 26-year old American missionary who was killed by the Sentinelese people on November 17, 2018. Chau decided he wanted to be a missionary when he was a child. He went on short-term mission trips, attended All Nations, a missionary training camp, and studied linguistics. He traveled to the Andaman Islands on a tourist visa and then quarantined himself for 14 days to avoid bringing disease to the Sentinelese. The North Sentinel Island is owned by India, but the government has made any contact with the indigenous people illegal. After that, he set out for the island with a few local Christian fishermen that were willing to take him after hearing his story. The people shot arrows at him during his first attempt; the second time, they allowed him to preach on the island a little, but a child shot his arm; and Chau was fatally shot with arrows on the third. The fishermen saw his body on the shore the next day, but it has not been retrieved due to Chau’s wish to stay there if he was killed.

When Chau's death was released to the public there was an intense debate. Was Chau a foolish colonizer, who would intrude upon and Westernize these people at the cost of their health and his life? Or was he a man determined to fulfill the Great Commission and save these people at any cost? While Chau might have been too bold, going to minister entirely by himself, I do believe that he prepared himself to the best of his ability due to the limited knowledge the world has of the Sentinelese people. He showed concern for their health as well by quarantining himself. There is no evidence to support Chau wanting to Westernize or colonize these people, he only wanted them to know Christ. All Christians would do well to learn from Chau and remember that our loyalty is to Christ, first and foremost. Governments and people groups should be shown their respect, but ultimately we must acknowledge that God and His Word come before all earthly boundaries.

December 18, 1991 (Scottsboro, Alabama) - November 17, 2018 (North Sentinel Island, India)

Want to hear Chau's voice on his mission? This is the PDF of his journal


“Access to Electricity (% of Population).” Data, The World Bank,

Conroy, J. Oliver. “The Life and Death of John Chau, the Man Who Tried to Convert His Killers.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 3 Feb. 2019,

Dunford, Scott. “5 Critical Reminders for Modern Christians on the Death of John Allen Chau.” ABWE, 20 Dec. 2018,

“Global Internet Usage.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Dec. 2022,

“John Chau Martyred On North Sentinel Island.”, Voice of the Martyrs , 4 June 2022,

“Joshua Project: People Groups of the World: Joshua Project.” Joshua Project: People Groups of the World | Joshua Project, Joshua Project,



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