November 24, 2018

Stop me if you've heard this one:

A missionary decides he needs to spread The Word to an isolated island tribe that local governments have warned are hostile and dangerous.

He evades various methods of deterring them, only to be shot with an arrow and his boat destroyed.

So he goes back the next day. And the tribe--a little miffed that their previous TWO warnings were ignored--kills him.

There's no punchline. That is what actually happened to John Allen Chau, who decided that Jesus wanted him to convert the natives of the North Sentinel Island off the coast of India.

The young American, paddling his kayak toward a remote Indian island whose people have resisted the outside world for thousands of years, believed God was helping him dodge the authorities.

"God sheltered me and camouflaged me against the coast guard and the navy," John Allen Chau wrote before he was killed last week on North Sentinel Island.

Indian ships monitor the waters around the island, trying to ensure outsiders do not go near the Sentinelese, who have repeatedly made clear they want to be left alone.

When a young boy tried to hit him with an arrow on his first day on the island, Chau swam back to the fishing boat he had arranged to wait for him offshore. The arrow, he wrote, hit a Bible he was carrying.

"Why did a little kid have to shoot me today?" he wrote in his notes, which he left with the fishermen before swimming back the next morning. "His high-pitched voice still lingers in my head."

Police say Chau knew that the Sentinelese resisted all contact by outsiders, firing arrows and spears at passing helicopters and killing fishermen who drift onto their shore. His notes, which were reported Thursday in Indian newspapers and confirmed by police, make clear he knew he might be killed.

"I DON'T WANT TO DIE," wrote Chau, who appeared to want to bring Christianity to the islanders. "Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else to continue. No I don't think so."

Uh, yes, actually. It would have been much, much wiser to actually respect the Sentinelese's wishes and leave them alone. The hubris to believe that your entitlement to proselytize supersedes not only military guarding, but the native population's own desires is pretty mind-blowing. And Chau paid the ultimate price for that hubris.

Chau's family says that they forgive the tribe for killing him, but officials are still having difficulty recovering his body.

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