BARTLESVILLE, OK — Five years ago, the controversial death of American missionary John Chau created an international conversation around modern Christian missions which continues even today with the release of a new National Geographic film about Chau’s life and death called, “The Mission.”
The Voice of the Martyrs Spokesperson Todd Nettleton screened the documentary and said, “If you–like me–believe John Chau to have been a hero, you’ll find much of the film frustrating…”
Just before Thanksgiving 2018, the world learned that Chau had been killed on North Sentinel Island, an Indian island whose inhabitants are completely cut off from the world.
News reports negatively cast Chau as a reckless adventure-seeker. Indian authorities even called Chau’s evangelistic efforts to the Sentinelese tribe, a “misplaced adventure in a highly-restricted area.”
But details emerged, painting a more accurate portrait of Chau’s preparation and motivation after Nettleton conducted extensive research for an in-depth backstory. Nettleton found in Chau’s journals and other primary sources that Chau underwent an intentional and intense training process to make first contact in order to obey Jesus’ command to “go into all the world and make disciples.”
Voice of the Martyrs President Cole Richards and Nettleton said Chau’s sacrifice was not in vain.
“We know from Revelation 7:9 that all tribes and all peoples will be represented around the throne of Christ throughout eternity,” said Voice of the Martyrs President Cole Richards.
“John Chau was ridiculed by some for his bold willingness to go to North Sentinel Island. But in eternity John will gather around the throne with Sentinelese people who will be reached with the gospel message by someone willing to follow in John’s footsteps,” said Richards.
“Every decision John Chau made–for nine years–was made with an eye toward landing on that beach,” said Nettleton. “He counted the cost to answer Christ’s call. He was mocked and ridiculed, not only by the press and the secular world, but also by some who also say they are following Christ.”
“Tens of thousands of Christians are now aware of this unreached and unengaged people group and many are now praying for everyone on the island–an island they had never even heard of before John arrived there five years ago,” said Nettleton.
“John’s story challenges us to ask some uncomfortable questions. Is there an expiration date on the Great Commission? Does God still call people to dangerous places? Would He ever ask us to do something that might cost our lives?” said Nettleton.
In 2022 the ministry honored Chau by adding his name to the Martyr’s Memorial located at VOM’s headquarters for the 2022 Day of the Christian Martyr.
About The Voice of the Martyrs
Founded in 1967 by Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, VOM is a nonprofit, interdenominational missions organization serving persecuted Christians in the world’s most difficult and dangerous places to follow Christ. For more information, visit VOM.org.