A man from Washington state was killed by a previously uncontacted society after visiting their island in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. John Allen Chau, 27, contacted the Sentinelese people on an island in the Indian Ocean after paying a fisherman to take him over in 2018. However, once he arrived, he never left.
Chau learned about the Sentinelese people back in high school. The hunter-gatherers have always been hostile towards outsiders and protective towards their land and culture. Nevertheless, Chau believed he could “declare Jesus” to them and change their lives.
Upon arriving, he wrote a letter to his parents saying he was “doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island… Do not blame the natives if I am killed.”
He continued: “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people,” he wrote in the letter to his parents. Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed.
John Allen Chau went on to quote Revelations 7:9-10 and told his family he loved them and that he “pray[s] none of you love anything in this world more than Jesus Christ.”
While on the island, Chau also kept a diary in which he shared a recollection of his arrival.
“I hollered: ‘My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you.’ I regret I began to panic slightly as I saw them string arrows in their bows. I picked up the fish and threw it towards them. They kept coming,” he wrote. “I paddled like I never have in my life back to the boat.”
While it’s unclear exactly what happened, Chau is believed to have been hit and killed by arrows when he finally came back to the land.
A police statement later confirmed that fishermen noticed a body, believed to be Chau’s, being buried at the shore. The man was wearing the same clothing as Chau upon his arrival.
Chau’s family released a statement of their own following the police’s discovery, saying: “We recently learned from an unconfirmed report that John Allen Chau was reported killed in India while reaching out to members of the Sentinelese Tribe in the Andaman Islands.”
“He loved God, life, helping those in need and had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people. We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death. We also ask for the release of those friends he had in the Andaman Islands.”