At Instagram, John Chau appeared as a carefree young adventurer – climb mountain peaks and explore jungles. The missionary held…
At Instagram, John Chau appeared as a carefree young adventurer – climb mountain peaks and explore jungles. The missionary held a mortal obsession with an isolated tribe in India that he would first read about as a teenager.
Chau spent years planning to travel illegally to remote North Sentinel Island on behalf of converting its inhabitants to Christianity. The islands had long been violently opposed to outside, he performed a secret mission to the Protected Island this month. Immediately after he arrived, the tribe killed him and the police say they have not yet recovered their body.
26-year-old sold-out missionary from the Washington state ̵
1; breaking violent laws and endangering the health of indigenous people – has triggered an international outrage, an argued debate on the protection of tribal communities and at least two invasions of government in India . It has also led to self-seeking in the American Evangelical Society, which has discussed whether Chau was a martyr, was a fool or was affected by a messiah’s complex.
“God, I do not want to die,” Chau scrawled in his newspaper while sitting in a fishing boat off the coast of the island where the North-Sentinel people live just before he was killed. “Who will take my place if I do?”
Chau was relaxed and friendly and appeared like someone else’s backpacker when he showed up at Remco Snoeijs dive shop 2016 on Havelock Island – in India’s Andaman and Nicobar beer chain – and said he would learn to dive.
Chaus time on the island, a dive’s sanctuary, was largely unreasonable. He lived in a house called Scubaluv, filled with “chattering geckos”; He swam with parrotfish and snapped pictures of blue coral for his Instagram account, which had 17,000 followers.
But Snoeij reminded that Chau seemed interesting for the North-Sentinel tribe who lived a Stone Age Existence on a nearby island, protected by a 3-mile exclusion zone introduced by the Indian government. The tribal has long resisted human contact; When Indian helicopters flew over their heads after the 2004 tsunami, the members of the tribe struck arrows and threw spears.
Snoeij told Chau that the island was limited, but on dive trips he ruled American with local lore – about the two fishermen who traveled to the island in 2006 and became stricken by the islands about the rumors that the Japanese military had buried gold there during others World war.
“He shared a great interest in investigating and knowing more about them,” Snoeij said. “It must have struck a chord.”
What a police now believes is that Chau was on a recruitment mission, one of at least three times he visited the area to learn to circumvent military patrols and reach the island.
Chau had a “very careful plan to camouflage his expedition as a fishing activity,” said Dependra Pathak, Police Director General of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The son of a physician who fled China during the Cultural Revolution, Chau had been fascinated with the outdoors since he drew a dusty copy of “Robinson Crusoe” from his father’s bookshelf as a child, he told an online wildlife adventure calendar. He later read the novel “The Beaver’s Sign” about a single boy guarding his family’s log cabin with the help of an Indian friend.
That book “inspired my brother and I to paint our faces with wild blackberry juice and trample through our farm with arches and spears we created from sticks,” Chau recalled.
In an email, Chau’s father, Patrick, refused to comment, saying the family needs peace.
Chau graduated in sports medicine at Oral Roberts University, graduated in 2014, and volunteered for football programs in Iraq and South Africa. He lived in a cabin for three summers in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in California; At one point, he was hospitalized after being bitten by a rattlesnake.
A friend, John Middleton Ramsey, 22, recalls that Chau stayed with him in Bellingham, Washington in 2016 and that the island in the Andaman Sea was much on his mind. Chau explained that he avoids romantic attachments because of his planned mission.
“He knew about the dangers of this place,” Ramsey told. “He did not want any hearts to be broken if something went wrong. He was very aware of what he did. He also knew it was not exactly legal.”
That year, Chau joined all nations, a missionary group in Kansas City, Missouri, which sends Christian missionaries to 40 countries. The group gave him education and support, according to Mary Ho, its international executive leader. She was surprised by the “soft talked, very gentle young man” who had a very “radical call” to find “unreported groups”.
“You could see that every decision he made, every step he has taken since then is driven by his desire to be among the Scandinavian people,” he said. He planned to live there for several years and hoped to learn his language.
He said the group was aware that Chau had traveled to India as a tourist without the correct mission visa because missionary visas “are not easy to get away from.” Ho insisted that Chau had not violated any laws, but the authorities in India said he clearly did.
Brahma Chellaney, a professor at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, said that Chau violated the country’s aboriginal and forest protection laws as well as cultural norms.
“He repeatedly repeated on this island, and they lost their patience with him,” said Chellaney. “There is faith, and there is mental illness … He did not understand the line between faith and did something that is absolutely nutty.”
Chau’s diary, which his family gave to the Washington Post, unfolds as the adventure novels he once read. He arrived at Andamans on October 16th, paying fishermen to take him by boat on the night of the island on November 14, avoiding the patrol light on the road. When the sun broke, Chau drew near the trunk. The women began to “looing and chatting,” he wrote, and he faced men who were armed with arrows and arrows. “My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you,” he cried before returning.
The other day, he kayaked to the island and tried to offer the tribe small gifts – fish, scissors, cord and safety pins. A man in white with a crown, possibly blooming, shouted at him. He responded by singing “worship song and hymn” and the tribe became silent. A bachelor kicked an arrow on him and pierced his waterproof Bible. Chau flew on foot through the mangroves.
“Lord, is this island’s last Satan’s party where no one has heard or even had the chance to hear your name?” he wrote.
On the third day, he became convinced he should die.
“Watch the sunset and it’s beautiful – crying a bit … wondering if it will be the last sunset I see” wrote. He asked the fishermen to let him go to the beach. They returned the next day and saw the tribes pulling Chau’s body.
The fish have been arrested, like a friend of Chau who helped organize the boat trip. The police still have no strategy to pick up their bodies or confront the islands, said Pathak.
Chau’s friends from the islands are still sad and mysterious of the whole episode.
“He lost anger, definitely,” Snoeij said. “But ask any adventurer. You have to think a little, otherwise you will not.”
(In addition to the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)