By now, many of you have heard of the death of John Allen Chau, an American missionary who attempted to take the Gospel to an unreached people group in the Andaman Islands. According to reports, the twenty-six-year old specifically sought to engage the Sentinelese tribe, a native island group that was known for hostile behavior toward outsiders and that had been declared “off-limits” by the Indian government. Chau recognized the risks but was determined to share the love of Jesus with this spiritually destitute people group. Ultimately, some of the fishermen who assisted him in reaching the island reported seeing Chau killed by the tribesmen and his lifeless body dragged across the beach.
Of course, this story has prompted much reaction from both secular and evangelical circles. Much of the national press has dismissed Chau’s efforts and condemned him for violating the tribe’s cultural identity. Criticism has even been levied against Chau for the possibility of opening up the Sentinelese to possible disease or sickness that theoretically could wipe them out. (Remember that they have little or no immunity to outside viruses, bacteria, etc.) In such a pluralistic society as ours, we should not be surprised by this reaction. After all, these news outlets are built upon the idea that one moral code is as good as another. You might call it a moral equivalency to which they subscribe. The secular press would reject any need for evangelism; instead, they would view it as highly unethical and a breach of people’s rights.
But even Christian writers and blogs have debated the wisdom/merit of Chau’s actions. Most all uniformly endorse the young man’s passion, but some question his methodology and strategy. Even a Baptist Press article, “’Crazy’ or Called?” set forth different aspects of the conversation. And while I don’t want (nor do I have space here) to relitigate this debate, let me affirm two positions: 1) Yes, Chau probably could have chosen a better strategy or method for taking the Gospel to the Sentinelese; 2)Yes, Chau’s passion for Christ, His Gospel, and the Sentinelese is to be commended and emulated by all of us. As to this latter reality, we must be challenged to do all we can to take the good news to people who are lost and bound for an eternity without Christ’s love. We must pray, give, and go!
This season is a special time for such a reminder of sacrifice and commitment. This week, we will not only emphasize prayer for our international missionaries, but we will also call for their support through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Every dime that we collect through this offering goes directly to the field to reach people groups across our globe with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our church goal this year is $150,000. This Sunday in particular, we will March for Missions as we generously give.
As I approach this significant moment in the life of our church, I am especially moved by the words Chau penned to his family in his last note: “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this, but I think it’s worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people.”
See you Sunday as we declare Jesus . . . not only here in Ruston but to the world itself!