You may have heard of John Allen Chau, the young 27-year-old disciple who in November 2018 went against just about every traditional missionary protocol to preach Jesus Christ to a truly untouched people group—the primitive, hostile tribesmen of North Sentinel Island situated in the Andaman Islands of India. John was shot by arrows and killed by the tribesmen around November 17, 2018.
Some might say offhand that John had an overabundance of zeal without knowledge—that he should have sought the Lord earnestly and exercised discernment before embarking on such a seemingly misguided and disastrous adventure.
I for one do not dare to do so.
I and my wife did something similar 40 years ago, but with nowhere near the risk that John took. Completely by faith and apart from any missionary organization, we went to unreached peoples in primitive regions of Indonesia to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. We stayed there for nearly nine years, and the Lord very graciously made us fruitful preaching the gospel, making disciples, and planting churches.
But things of course turned out very differently for John, at least outwardly. The young man in his prime lost his life, and now his loved ones and fellow believers are grieving for him.
John has now transitioned to the kingdom of heaven above. What is he seeing and hearing?
Let us keep in mind that although from an earthly perspective his adventure seemed to end in unmitigated failure, he actually obeyed the command of the Lord to “go”—something few believers have done or even dare to do.
And although John did not appear to bear any visible fruit on his mission trip to the tribespeople of North Sentinel, the Lord knows that through his testimony a seed is now being planted in the hearts of young disciples who read his testimony and are inspired. Some of these may dare to follow in his footsteps.
John 12:24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Will John hear from our Lord the following words?
Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
One final note: John indeed counted the cost—exactly as Jesus taught his disciples—before embarking on his mission trip. Although he knew he could die, he nevertheless went.