The father of American missionary John Allen Chau has spoken out, blaming “extreme Christianity” for his son’s untimely death on a remote Indian island last November. The 26-year-old explorer and evangelist was murdered by indigenous tribespeople after he illegally ventured to the restricted North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal.
His actions subsequently split the evangelical community, with many heralding the zealous young man as a hero and a martyr who gave his life for Jesus. Others, however, labeled him reckless and stupid for breaking the law and endangering the local people by exposing them to unwanted disease. This latter opinion, it appears, is also shared by his own father.
“John is gone because the Western ideology overpowered my [Confucian] influence,” Dr. Patrick Chau told The Guardian. “Extreme Christianity,” he said, pushed John toward a “not unexpected end.”
In one of his final notes written before his death, Chau addressed his parents: “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this,” he said, “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,” he added. “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.”
Dr. Chau, also a graduate of Christian-rooted Oral Roberts University, spoke of his own disillusionment with religion as a motivator to invade other people’s land and culture.
“If you have [anything] positive to say about religion, l wish not to see or hear it,” he noted.
It was an opinion echoed by one of Chau’s closest friends, Justin Graves, who told Faithwire that while John was “a good person,” his attitude toward foreign missions was misguided.
“What he did here was not wise,” Graves told Faithwire of Chau’s final mission trip. “As I mourn for him, I question the theological assumptions and missiological methods present within much of the world today that may have influenced his decision.”
“Now, he’s dead,” Graves continued. “The tribe may have contracted a deadly disease from his body (the major reason for their isolation from outside in the first place), and the fishermen are in terrible legal trouble.”
“I respected John and his passion,” he concluded, “but this cannot be a role model to emulate, but a lesson to learn from.”
Oral Roberts, on the other hand, mourned the passing of former student Chau and eulogized him as a man who was sold out for the cause of Jesus Christ.
“Oral Roberts University alumni have gone to the uttermost bounds of the earth for the last 50 years bringing hope and healing to millions,” said university president, Dr. William Wilson, following news of Chau’s death. “We are not surprised that John would try to reach out to these isolated people in order to share God’s love. We are deeply saddened to hear of his death.”