John Chau & the Urgency of Christmas
“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity--the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6
On November 17, 2018, a twenty-six year old American missionary named John Allen Chau, was attempting to make contact by kayak with a remote island tribe known as the Sentinelese, when he was killed by them in a barrage of arrows. Since then John Chau’s death and ultimately, his reason for going to North Sentinel island, has stirred up much debate and discussion around the world. Because unequivocally, John had gone there to tell the Sentinelese people one thing: Jesus loves you. Reportedly, John had undergone a year of training and planning ahead of time, with his intent being of making contact, learning their language, teaching them about Jesus, and eventually putting their language into writing and then translating the Bible into it so they could read it for themselves.
John’s parents knew of his plans and were naturally concerned for his safety. But in a letter to them John wrote: "You guys might think I'm crazy in all this but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people, Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed.” "I can't wait to see them around the throne of God worshipping in their own language.”
In order to reach them, Indian authorities say that John Chau paid local fishermen to take him to near the island so that he could paddle the rest of the way himself. John had tried to reaching them the day before and had paddled his kayak towards the shore carrying fish and a football as gifts, but the Tribespeople fired arrows at him, one of then piercing his Bible. He returned to the fishermen's boat and spent the night writing about his experiences before going back to the island the next day.
He never returned.
One source who spoke with the fisherman said: "He was attacked by arrows but he continued walking. He was calling out: "My name is John. I love you and Jesus loves you ... Here is some fish!" The fishermen then saw the tribals tying a rope around his neck and drag his body up the beach."
Now many people have called him an idealistic fool. He knew the risks, proceeded anyway and paid the price. I have also seen it said many times that he also potentially put the islanders at risk of outside diseases for which they lack immunity as well as violating their clear desire to be left alone.
But as I’ve read and thought a great deal about John and his risky mission and now as we approach Christmas once more, I can’t help but be struck by the parallels between John’s risky mission and the original risky of mission of the Jesus who’s footsteps he sought to walk in.
Think of the earth as a dark island filled with a people hostile to outsiders. They know little or nothing about love or peace or hope and their lives are filled with pain, despair and violence. Generation after generation are born in darkness, live out their lives in darkness and then die in darkness without ever knowing any differently. But then looking down on that island from a safe distance was God. He made the island, He made the people, and He loves them. But the people don’t know Him nor even care to know Him. Yes, God could have just as easily left them alone. That way there would have been no further risk to them or Himself... but God loved the people of Island Earth to much to leave them alone in the dark without Him and without the light of His love. And so motivated by His great love to reconcile the people to himself, God the Father set about on the riskiest of all missions... He decided that He would send His only Son to the Island of Earth alone and unprotected. He would go to them in the form of a helpless baby. He would go to them and be hunted from birth by a tyrant king. He would go to them and be misunderstood. He would go to them and be ridiculed. He would go to them and be hated. He would go to them and be betrayed. He would go to them and be pierced by nails and spear. He would go to them and be brutally killed by the very ones He came to save. So was it worth the risk? Was it worth the blood? Was it worth His very life?
Well Jesus Himself tells us that it was worth every drop. Because unless He willingly gave his life to forgive our sins and purchase our freedom, we would still be lost in the dark on Island Earth without God, without love, and without hope.
“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity--the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.”
This message of Christmas is always urgent - Jesus is the one and only way to God! Through Jesus we can be reconciled to God, but without Him we remain lost in the dark. I believe that and John Chau believed that too. So whatever anyone wants to say about his risky mission, what’s clear is that John was following in the footsteps of Jesus. Regardless of the risks, He clearly understood the urgency of bringing the Good News of Jesus to the Sentinelese people and wanted to give them the opportunity to hear about Jesus, His love for them and respond as they choose. So how about you? Have you heard about Jesus and His love for you? Have you responded in faith? I hope that you have. I also hope that if you have not that you will seriously consider doing just that. Because Jesus came to Island Earth for everyone and that means He came for you too. And if you have already responded to Jesus in faith, who are you going to tell? Because the message of Christmas is just too good to keep to yourself!
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and may God richly bless you in the New Year!
Pastor Danny & Leanne Groening - Declan, Theodore & Adaline
Killarney Mennonite Church
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