Evangelizing remote tribes


Nothing immoral in what he did, it seemed he went to spread the Gospel to those who had not heard it. An incredibly brave young man, it would seem.

Considering what salvation means, hearing the message of Christ must surely be in the interests of the native people there. Even if they do not realise this and killed him.


What makes you think they have a frame of reference for any of this? We know nothing about their religious beliefs, or if they even have any.


How is that relevant? Christ didn’t tell us “go spread the gospel, but only to those with a frame of reference for what you’ll tell them”


They have to be able to understand what you’re talking about. You can’t effectively communicate a concept if you know nothing about your audience.


Several issues noted.
He broke legitimate laws. That is immoral.
He forced himself on people who do not welcome intrusions on their way of life. While it might be moral to spread the Gospel per se, it is not moral to force one’s self into the lives of the unwilling.
God rest the young man and his family, his intentions are good, but that doesn’t make the actions wise or moral.

God is ultimately responsible for the conversion of hearts. We are co-operators. A heart must be open to that particular approach used. And if a people is not ripe to hear the Gospel, we can trust deeply in God’s providence for them.


Yes. The Gospel is communication. It is not a thing to be thrown at a person, like a book. I can throw a book at a person all day and all it does is bounce off his head and probably get me hurt.
The Gospel is communication, an invitation into relationship and community, to know God and his people.
So it is wise to tailor the Gospel to the frame of reference to those you are speaking to. St Paul speaks about this, and it is good common sense.


The old model of colonial missionary is gone.

The Catholic Church is against it post the 60’s.
The missionary society he was with really needs to direct its people and it’s model into th 21st Century.


PNG was an Australian territory. People born there when it was are Australian. There has been a thriving intercultural exchange between png and Australia, and in some respects a good one, in others very bad, especially with mining.


In an objective sense, yes.
Subjectively, we know absolutely nothing about their culture , history , oral tradition or spirituality.
They may be operating under fear, or ignorance or something else we simply don’t know.

But still, they have the choice to be left alone, and we must never force a conversion.

Our job is to inform.
If we can’t do that, our job is to pray.


We are commanded to make disciples of all nations, and it is written that the Church consists of people from “every kindred, tongue, people, and nation.” Martyrdom is an occupational hazard for missionaries, but the Gospel is for everyone. Every tribe, no matter how remote, must hear the Gospel, and it often happens that the killers of martyrs are later converted by the martyrs’ testimony. It is not easy to ignore a man laying down his life for his testimony, especially when he had nothing worldly to gain by coming to you.


Go evangelize them yourself then. Get on Expedia and buy a plane ticket right now.

They’re waiting for you. Go!


I am inclined to agree. He put the natives in terrible danger, as he brought them gifts, a football and fish presumably. Spiritually, however, something could have changed on the Island, even as a closed tribal society, someone with evil intent takes over etc. Bio menace or martyr, we just wont ever know.

I understand that India has slightly relaxed laws governing access to the islands. This is again putting the natives at risk unless precautions are taken. It seems like though, it is only a matter of time with these changes that the natives will be exposed. Nature, and man, seem to find a way.


I suppose we could inoculate them…


As Mr. Chau discovered, they don’t willingly communicate with visitors; they hide from them, try to kill them, or both. How forceful and disruptive are you willing to be to inoculate people? Mandatory vaccination isn’t popular even here, and we know what’s going on or can have it explained to us.


If the Indian government could enforce the exclusion zone, nothing would need done.

Unfortunately, Everyone who sets foot on that island puts themselves and the islanders at risk.
It might be possible to inoculate food and leave it for them…


John Chau’s mission was destined to fail on so many levels. First of all, do we know if he had any success converting anyone to Christianity from his own neighbourhood, who speaks his own language? Prudence should have stopped him from choosing a far-flung isolated people whom nobody has successfully engaged, who don’t want any contact, and whose language Chau didn’t know. Chau should not have put the fishermen’s freedom at stake by ignoring the prohibition against traveling to the island, nor risked the safety of the people collecting his remains. Yes, he should have thought of that possibility too.

I feel sad for his parents. I wish them strength in the coming days.


How is Mr. Chau’s “evangelical impulse” different from St. Francis crossing a battle line and wandering barefoot, dressed in a coarse tunic, into the camp of the Muslim Sultan al-Kamil to convert him?


Have any of you heard of the missionary Nate Saint? He was one of 5 who flew into Ecuador about 60 years ago to share the Gospel with the Waodani people. They had made contact and spent several days with them, and then something went horribly wrong and they were killed. Since then, Nate’s family has returned and now have a successful mission there. There is a book and a recent movie out about this. When I was a young child, my Baptist Church supported them as missionaries.
Nate Saint Story


I concur. Even Jesus told his apostles to shake the dust off feet at villages that refused them. (Matthew 10:14).


The impulse likely wasn’t any different, but the practical situation very much was.

St. Francis may not have spoken Arabic, but he appears to have had some way to communicate with the Sultan and his court. The article isn’t clear, but perhaps there was a translator present. Chau didn’t have that.

Though their cultures and religions were different, Francis and the Sultan had a basis for understanding each other’s roles and motivations. The Sultan knew what a Christian was and even had similar figures within his own tradition (the Sufis) to guide his treatment of Francis. The Sentinelese have no such context.

Further, while there was a chance that Francis could be killed on his risky mission, it wasn’t as though the Sultan was known for having anyone he didn’t recognize killed on sight. The Sentinelese do that.

Combining all these factors makes Chau’s effort far less likely to succeed than St. Francis’. Unlike the aforementioned Nate Saint, he didn’t even have peaceful contact that went wrong — as he could have predicted, he barely got to deliver word one before he was attacked. And given the linguistic and cultural barriers, there was no chance that first word (unlike Francis’ “Sultan!”) would have been enough to arouse curiosity and suggest what to do with the visitor.

On top of that, of course, his presence (and germs) endangered the islanders. I doubt St. Francis would ever have gone into the Sultan’s camp if he even suspected that his mere presence could kill everyone there.

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