Although we have collectively moved to the 21st century and our children begin their lives with smartphones in their hands and Facebook IDs to give them some sense of validation, the same does not go for all of us. While we might sit in the comfortable relaxation of our advanced and sophisticated 21st century lives, watching photographs of black holes as they are released in groundbreaking homage to Einstein and Hawking, there are others out there: others that are far less privileged, far more primitive, far more worthy of our time, attention, and study.
Various tribes of people in densely forested areas—mainly in Africa and India—still dwell lives that are akin to what some would call “Stone Age man.” They have no concept of clothes, they hardly know paper is a thing, they hunt and gather, and if they speak a language it does not resonate with us.
One such tribe is the Sentinelese in the North Sentinel Island, in India.
The island itself is small, the residents few and reclusive, and the tribe uncontacted. Let this sink in: no human other than those that dwell on the island have ever had contact with the Sentinelese. We know this sounds like a plot from a slasher movie like Cannibal Holocaust, but it’s all fact and no fiction: the Island is inhabited by people who wear leaves, who go about wearing nothing, speaking what to us seems like gibberish, and killing anyone who attempts to make contact.
That is exactly what happened with John Allen Chau.
John Allen Chau’s Mission to North Sentinel
A 26-year-old missionary had only one plan in mind: to find this island, to meet this tribe of people, and to try to acquaint them with the ideas that exist beyond. Before him, few people had undertaken such a mission, most being scared away by the prospect of “savage” brown islanders. But Chau, who believed he was on a godly mission, could hardly have cared less.
On Sunday, November 18, Chau boarded a dinghy in the Indian seas with local fisherman, trying to locate the island. The fishermen warned him that he shouldn’t go ahead, but he undertook the mission on his own. As he approached the island, he was met with an arrow. We do not know if he took an arrow to the knee or elsewhere, but what we do know from the eyewitness accounts of the onlooking fishermen is that he was dragged inside the island as he fell. We do not know what happened to him afterward, but we can rest assured that he is no longer alive.
The Indian Government’s Reaction
In an appalling display of indecency and indifference, the Indian government announced that it had no plans of retrieving the body of John Allen Chau. They were determined to let the island stay “untouched,” for time immemorial. Some historians believe that the tribe on the island is some 30,000 years old (though the Scriptures most certainly dispute this)—and the Indian government is completely fine with letting them live in ancient conditions.
Why This Should Alarm and Concern Us
A number of problems for the entirety of humankind should knock at the doors of our minds. The first is the spread of disease and ailment, which is widespread on the island. Legally, the Islanders are subjects of the Indian Republic, and yet they are ignored where basic needs—health and education—are concerned. Secondly, does it become us as an intelligent species to be comfortable with the idea of such a primitive tribe of fallen man still dwelling like cavemen when the rest of us have advanced so far? It could be the judgment of God on these people–but nonetheless, Jesus commanded Christians to take the gospel to the ends of the world. It is insulting to God that people should live in such rebellion and that no one but John Allen Chau sought to change the way of things.
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