Martyrdom or Foolish Fantasy? | Sojourners

Martyrdom or Foolish Fantasy?

John Allen Chau wanted to bring the gospel to North Sentinel Island. The documentary “The Mission” tells the story of his death and raises questions about cross-cultural evangelism.
The illustration shows the back of a shirtless man on a kayak, holding a large fish over his head. People are walking towards him from the island, with weapons.
From The Mission

IN 2018, 26-year-old American missionary John Allen Chau journeyed to the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. He wanted to minister to the Sentinelese, the Indigenous residents of North Sentinel Island and one of the last population groups on the planet to have avoided modernization by the outside world. Chau, an Oral Roberts University graduate who grew up steeped in conservative evangelical culture, felt called to bring the gospel to unreached people.

The mission did not go as planned. Chau was quickly killed by the Sentinelese, who saw him as a threat. Chau’s death caused a public reevaluation of cross-cultural missions, one explored in the documentary The Mission. The film tells Chau’s story through his diary excerpts, his father Patrick’s account of Chau’s life, and expert interviews.

Directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss don’t cast judgment; instead, they add context and ask questions. Was Chau’s death martyrdom, or the result of a foolish fantasy? Does teaching God’s word to isolated peoples help them, or open them to exploitation, colonization, and eradication?

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