India works to retrieve U.S. missionary’s body
Authorities in India on Friday continued to search for the body of John Allen Chau, an American Christian missionary who was killed by island tribesmen known for their hostility to outsiders. After several visits to North Sentinel Island late last week to share Christianity with the island’s inhabitants, Chau, 26, returned a final time Friday. According to his journal, he had survived an arrow shot by one of the younger tribesmen on an earlier visit, noting that the arrow hit a Bible he was holding before he fled. “Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else continue,” he wrote. “No I don’t think so.” The fishermen who helped him make the journey to the remote island said the tribesmen shot him with arrows and were seen Saturday dragging and burying his body on the beach.
North Sentinel Island is part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands located at the convergence of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Dependera Pathak, the director-general of police on the islands, said his office was collaborating with anthropologists and tribal welfare experts to figure out how to recover Chau’s body.
Chau, a native of Vancouver, Wash., was affiliated with All Nations, an international missions organization based in Kansas City, Mo. Mary Ho, the group’s international executive leader, said in a statement that All Nations has contacted the U.S. State Department and is cooperating with officials in India. “John was a gracious and sensitive ambassador of Jesus Christ who wanted others to know of God’s great love for them,” Ho said. “As we grieve for our friend, and pray for all those who mourn his death, we also know that he would want us to pray for those who may have been responsible for his death.” Ho asked for prayer with the hope that “John’s sacrificial efforts will bear eternal fruit in due season.”
A 2014 graduate of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., Chau worked with the school’s missions and outreach department. He traveled in 2014 to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where he took part in a youth soccer program for Iraqi and Syrian refugees. He also worked with a youth soccer academy in South Africa and as a wilderness first responder who led backpacking trips to Mount Adams in southwest Washington state.
Chau previously had visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2015 and 2016. In a statement posted on Instagram, his family described him as a “beloved son, brother, uncle,” and implored Indian authorities to pardon the fishermen who helped him make the journey. “He loved God, life, helping those in need, and he had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people,” his family said.
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