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John Allen Chau, Imperialist

Robert Franklin

Posted on November 28, 2018 17:33

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A man tried to bring Jesus to an isolated indigenous tribe and ended up dead. It's tragic, but no one should be shedding a tear over this budding imperialist, nor should anyone discount all of the potential harm he could have brought to them.

John Allen Chau illegally went to North Sentinel Island hoping to save the eternal souls of the Sentinelese people. He was met with resistance. Now his body is interred haphazardly on a beach and the Indian government has no plans to retrieve it.

John Allen Chau is dead and as tragic as this story is, sympathizing with the self-proclaimed missionary is not something I can do. I don't think he deserved it -- I don't believe death is something anyone deserves -- but his actions were foolish and destructive.

It can be argued that attempting to save the eternal souls of a culture as violent and xenophobic as the Sentinelese is a spiritually worthwhile endeavor, but I won't take that position. Aside from the inherent dangers associated with even so much as flying over North Sentinel Island, the potential for introducing pestilence to the island isn't a lost concept.

Chau had to have known that a culture that has survived for millennia completely unmolested would have no means of fighting off even diseases as innocuous as the cold and that such infections could potentially decimate the entire island. A single sneeze could signal genocide, yet John Allen Chau went to North Sentinel Island anyway because apparently bringing these backward savages to Jesus far outweighs the holocaust that could befall them if Chau inadvertently introduced the flu.

Their souls would be saved, right? If they died, Heaven awaits, and Heaven is the whole point of living, right?

It's this kind of devil-may-care attitude about evangelism and missionary work that makes it exceeding difficult to view it as anything but imperialism. Chau knew the risks associated with what he was doing, especially as it related to whom he was attempting to evangelize. He even wrote to his parents in his last letter:

"You guys might think I'm crazy in all this. But I think it's worth it to declare Jesus to these people."

That statement says it all about John Allen Chau. This was about proselytizing and conversion. This was about the Christianization of one of the last cultures in the world free of the bondage of modern existence, a culture that, while mysterious, is known to express hostility toward all outsiders.

While Chau was absolutely a threat to the Sentinelese people, there are some who would argue he is a martyr, and at least one group, International Christian Concern, is calling Chau's death "murder" and are advocating for the Sentinelese who killed him to be brought up on charges. Apparently, evangelism makes one immune to the legal and ethical consequences of their actions.

John Allen Chau isn't a martyr, but a failed imperialist. He sought to Christianize one of the most violent and most secluded tribes in the world, one known for being hostile toward, and paranoid of, outsiders. He knew that going to North Sentinel Island was dangerous, not only to himself, but to the Sentinelese as well.

Now, he rots on a beach with a waterproof Bible.

Robert Franklin

Posted on November 28, 2018 17:33

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Source: TIME
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An American Instagram adventurer and evangelist who was killed by members of an isolated tribe after trespassing on...

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