To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain - John Allen Chau

Posted on: 
November 1, 2018

In the Indian Ocean, hundreds of miles off the eastern coast of India, a small group of Sentinel tribal people have lived and died for centuries. These remote Islanders have had a renowned reputation for violently resisting contact with the outside world.

A week ago, a young American Christian named John Allen Chau, passed through the veil into eternity while attempting to make friendly contact with this tribe.

At 26 years old, his unlived future still stretched before him. He loved life, the outdoors, he loved adventure. John Allen Chau also loved God and, according to his parents, “had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people.”

After a number of unsuccessful attempts to make contact with this tribe John began to doubt whether it was wise to continue his mission. His diary makes the uncertainty of this voyage and the knowledge that it could possibly lead to his death very clear.

When wrestling with his feelings and then addressing them to God he wrote, “If you want me to get actually shot or even killed with an arrow, then so be it. I think I could be more useful alive.” And again he wrote, “I don’t want to die. Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else continue? No. I don’t think so…I still could make it back to the US somehow, as it almost seems like certain death to stay.”

The day before he reached the Sentinel Islanders' shoreline for what would be his last time John wrote the following to his parents: “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this, but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people. Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed. Rather, please live your lives in obedience to whatever he has called you to and I’ll see you again when you pass through the veil.”

What motivated John to stay and try once again to reach these natives after they had already shot at him before? Why would he try to go back to this Island once again? The last words he signed out with when writing to his parents give us a clue. “Soli deo Gloria!” (Glory to God alone!)

Therefore, my dear friends, I beseech each of you with tears, along with that great missionary of old to the Romans, “By the mercies of God, present your bodies a living sacrifice…” May each of us be willing to live and die for the glory of the Lamb who gave His life for us! That certainly is “our reasonable service” and shouldn’t it actually be an honor?

Many tribes are still waiting. With John, let each of us be willing to live, and if necessary die, so that they might yet hear the message for the first time.

Soli deo Gloria! Amen.

-Joel Martin

Read the report from Chau's sending agency

Read about John Allen Chau from someone who knew him

  • “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
  • “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witness of these things.” Luke 24:47, 48
  • “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
  • “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
  • “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.” Ephesians 3:6
  • “That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21
  • “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” Mark 11:17
  • “Ask of me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance.” Psalm 2:8
  • “Behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes.” Revelation 7:9
  • “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1
  • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.” Proverbs 25:25
  • “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10
  • “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.” Psalm 22:27
  • “Truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Numbers 14:21
  • “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:3, 4
  • “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
  • “That all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” 1 Kings 8:60
  • “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations.” Malachi 1:11
  • “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” Psalm 86:9
  • “For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” Isaiah 61:11
  • "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10
  • "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3, 4
  • "You are worthy. . .; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God." Revelation 5:9, 10