John Chau Is Honored on Day of the Christian Martyr

Jun 28, 2022

ORLANDO, FL — Today, on the Day of the Christian Martyr, The Voice of the Martyrs, a nonprofit, interdenominational missions organization that serves persecuted Christians around the world, honors John Allen Chau, who was martyred on North Sentinel island.

John was a 26-year-old American man who was martyred on November 17, 2018, on the Island of North Sentinel, a small island in the Bay of Bengal between India and Southeast Asia. North Sentinel Island is under the jurisdiction of India. Since high school, John had a heart for the Sentinelese and trained for nine years for his mission. This was his third trip to India and the Andaman Islands since 2015. He was a survivalist, mountain climber, certified scuba diver, an EMT, and a skilled wilderness guide who led scores of people on hiking and camping adventures throughout the Pacific Northwest. He knew how to survive in hostile climates and conditions. He packed an extensive medical kit that, among other things, included a hemostat to pinch arteries, a chest seal in case of a puncture, and dental forceps to remove arrows. 

John’s final days and hours are chronicled in his personal journal. It displays his heart for the Sentinelese and his love for Jesus Christ. He was a graduate of Oral Roberts Univerisity where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science (Sports Medicine).

John was also an alumni of Covenant Journey since August 2015. Covenant Journey is a ministry that provides a life-changing 10-day experience in Israel for Christian college-age students who demonstrate leadership skills. The mission of Covenant Journey is to strengthen the Christian faith of college-age students and introduce them to Israel through an immersive program in the Holy Land. In his Covenant Journey survey about his experience in Israel, John wrote: “This trip impacted my faith by opening my eyes to the complete reality of being where Jesus Christ actually had been when He was my age! I don't think I had fully grasped the humanity of Jesus before this trip, and it definitely has strengthened my faith and made the Bible more alive to me.”

John was an American citizen, part Irish, part Native American (Choctaw), part African, and part Chinese and Southeast Asian. He planned to “make progressive contact” with the Sentinelese by providing gifts to show he was friendly.

After arriving, his journal expressed his human emotion as he approached a group of Sentinelese. He wrote, “I regret I began to panic slightly. And I saw them string arrows in their bows… my thoughts were directed toward the fact I was almost in arrow range. I back paddled facing them and then when they got the fish, I turned and paddled like I never have in my life, back to the boat. I felt some fear but mainly was disappointed.”

During his next contact, he was in a kayak near the shore. The islanders were yelling. John wrote that as he “sang them some worship songs and hymns, and they would fall silent after this. Then two of them dropped their bows and took a dugout to meet me. I couldn’t tell if they were truly unarmed or not so I still kept a safe distance away and dropped off the fish and gifts and at first they poled their dugout past the gifts and were coming at me, then they turned and grabbed the gifts except for the shovel/adze. I paddled after them and exchanged some more gifts.” He wrote, “So I preached a bit to them starting in Genesis and disembarked my kayak to show that I too have two legs. I was inches from the unarmed guy.” It was at this point a young boy shot an arrow at John’s chest which burrowed halfway into his Bible that he was holding out while preaching. The arrowhead was thin, sharp metal.

On November 15, John wrote, “I’m scared. There, I said it…. Lord let your will be done. If you want me to get actually shot or even killed with an arrow, then so be it. I think I could be more useful alive though, but to You, God, I give all the glory of whatever happens. I don’t WANT to die! Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else continue? No. I don’t think so.” John also writes, “it almost seems like certain death to stay here – yet there is evidence of change in just two encounters in a single day. Will try again tomorrow.”

“Watching the sunset and it’s beautiful – crying a bit … wondering if it’ll be the last sunset I see before being in the play Where The Sun Never Sets. Tearing up a little. God, I don’t want to die. WHO will take my place if I do? Oh God I miss my parents,” John wrote.

Even as John was planning what turned out to be his last trip, he prayed, “Whoever comes after me to take my place, whether it’s after tomorrow or another time, please give them a double anointing and bless them mightily.”

His final letter, written to his family, states in part: “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this 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 – 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. “

John concluded by writing, “This is not a pointless thing—the eternal lives of this tribe is at hand and I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshipping in their own language as Revelation 7:9-10 states. I love you all and I pray none of you love anything in this world more than Jesus Christ.” He concluded with “Soli Deo Gloria,” and signed his name.

Today, The Voice of the Martyrs inducted John Chau into its Wall of Christian Martyrs. This month’s magazine is dedicated to John Chau. June 29 is the annual day to recognize Christian martyrs as it is the day recognized in church history as the day when the Apostle Paul was martyred. In addition to supporting persecuted Christians around the world, The Voice of the Martyrs also recognizes Christians who paid the ultimate price to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. In honor of John Chau, The Voice of the Martyrs produced a trailer and a three-minute video about his life and incredible testimony.

“Compelled by this love for Jesus and his desire to share His love with the Sentinelese, John Chau went to North Sentinel Island and there he gave the ultimate sacrifice. His legacy is an example to each of us that we must answer God’s call to share the gospel wherever He sends us,” said Mat Staver, Founder & Chairman of Covenant Journey.

Covenant Journey provides a life-changing experience in Israel for Christian college-age students who have demonstrated leadership skills.