'You guys might think I'm crazy': Diary of US 'missionary' reveals last days in remote island

The Christian evangelist who attempted to convert one of the world's last remaining isolated tribes wrote of...

Posted: Nov 24, 2018 6:49 AM
Updated: Nov 24, 2018 6:49 AM

The Christian evangelist who attempted to convert one of the world's last remaining isolated tribes wrote of his convictions in pursuing the mission even in the face of open hostility and attempts on his life, according to diary entries and notes.

In excerpts from his journal, John Allen Chau, the American who is believed to have been killed by members of the isolationist Sentinelese tribe on a tiny, remote island in the Bay of Bengal, wrote of returning to the island to continue his attempts at conversion even after a tribesman shot at him with a bow and arrow, piercing a Bible he was carrying.

Belief, religion and spirituality

Environment and natural resources

Islands and reefs

Landforms and ecosystems

Society

"I hollered, 'My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you,'" he wrote in his diary, pages of which were shared by his mother with the Washington Post. Shortly after, a young member of the tribe shot at him, according to his account.

In pages left with the fishermen who facilitated his trip to the island, his musings are a clear indication of his desire to convert the tribe.

"Lord, is this island Satan's last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?" he wrote.

His notes indicate that he knew the trip was illegal, describing how the small fishing vessel transported him to the isolated island under cover of darkness, evading patrols.

"God Himself was hiding us from the Coast Guard and many patrols," he wrote.

All seven locals who facilitated the trip have been arrested.

Deliberate isolation

The Sentinelese live in complete isolation on the remote island in the Andaman archipelago, and are thought to have done so for tens of thousands of years. The tribe and their home are protected by Indian law to maintain their way of life and protect them from modern illnesses because they lack immunity.

Just more than a dozen people are officially thought to live on the remote island, which about 50 kilometer (31 miles) west of Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, an Indian territory.

They represent some of the last people on earth whose way of life remains entirely undisturbed by modern civilization.

The island is a protected area, and people are not allowed to go within 5 nautical miles of it, after previous incidents of aggressive behavior toward outsiders were observed. In 2006, two local fishermen were killed by the tribes.

'God, I don't want to die'

Dependra Pathak, director general of police of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, told CNN that Chau had made several trips to the island, returning to the fishing boat at least twice.

"The boat stopped 500-700 meters (1,640 - 2,300 feet) away from the island and (Chau) used a canoe to reach the shore of the island. He came back later that day with arrow injuries. On the 16th, the (tribespeople) broke his canoe.

"So he came back to the boat swimming. He did not come back on the 17th; the fishermen later saw the tribespeople dragging his body around."

While on board, he wrote one final note to his family.

"You guys might think I'm crazy in all this but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people," it said. "God, I don't want to die."

Despite the reports from the fishermen claiming they had seen the tribespeople dragging Chau's body across the beach before burying it in the sand, his mother, Lynda Adams-Chau, told the Post that she believed he was still alive.

Asked why, she answered, "My prayers."

History of aggression against outsiders

Chau is not the first person to fall victim to the Sentinelese after intruding on their island, which it is illegal for outsiders to land on.

In 2006, members of the tribe killed two poachers who had been illegally fishing in the waters surrounding North Sentinel Island after their boat drifted ashore, according to tribal advocacy nonprofit Survival International.

Two years previously, in the wake of the ruinous 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, a member of the group was photographed on a beach on the island, firing arrows at a helicopter sent to check on their welfare.

Expeditions were made to the island frequently in the 1980s and 1990s, where gifts were often left for its people, but these have since dropped off.

According to India's 2011 census, only 15 Sentinelese were estimated to remain on the island. India's government has stuck to an "eyes-on and hands-off" policy to ensure that poachers do not enter North Sentinel Island, according to the country's Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46387

Reported Deaths: 2662
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11434680
Lake4985241
Elkhart313343
Allen2695117
St. Joseph185766
Cass16369
Hamilton1502100
Hendricks1371100
Johnson1244118
Porter69037
Tippecanoe6598
Madison64363
Clark62744
Bartholomew58044
Howard55057
LaPorte54125
Kosciusko5003
LaGrange4646
Jackson4583
Vanderburgh4576
Noble45128
Delaware42949
Boone42743
Hancock42535
Marshall4183
Shelby41825
Floyd37044
Morgan32331
Montgomery29020
Grant28726
Clinton2812
Monroe26328
Dubois2616
White25910
Decatur24732
Henry23615
Lawrence23624
Vigo2278
Harrison20822
Warrick20729
Dearborn20622
Greene18432
Miami1802
Jennings16911
Putnam1658
DeKalb1594
Scott1557
Daviess13916
Orange13323
Wayne1296
Franklin1248
Steuben1242
Perry1239
Ripley1148
Jasper1132
Carroll1092
Wabash1092
Fayette967
Newton9610
Whitley814
Randolph774
Starke773
Huntington702
Wells681
Jay670
Fulton661
Jefferson661
Washington651
Knox630
Pulaski621
Clay594
Rush563
Benton480
Adams471
Gibson462
Owen451
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey360
Spencer331
Tipton301
Crawford290
Fountain292
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike80
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 52865

Reported Deaths: 2876
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin9338407
Cuyahoga7013366
Hamilton5224198
Marion273138
Lucas2628302
Pickaway217641
Summit1969206
Montgomery178426
Mahoning1752228
Butler144844
Columbiana120960
Stark1052112
Lorain96267
Trumbull86362
Warren75721
Clark7399
Belmont53421
Delaware51815
Tuscarawas51510
Fairfield50316
Medina49132
Lake44316
Miami44231
Ashtabula42144
Portage41858
Licking41611
Geauga39042
Wood38451
Clermont3566
Wayne35452
Richland3185
Allen29740
Mercer2728
Darke23625
Erie22922
Greene2229
Holmes2043
Madison1888
Huron1772
Crawford1357
Ottawa13023
Washington12720
Sandusky12213
Morrow1151
Putnam11516
Hardin11312
Ross1092
Auglaize993
Monroe8617
Coshocton811
Jefferson802
Union801
Hancock761
Hocking767
Muskingum731
Preble661
Lawrence650
Williams652
Clinton620
Guernsey603
Shelby594
Logan581
Wyandot584
Fulton570
Ashland551
Brown531
Carroll513
Defiance483
Fayette460
Highland431
Knox391
Champaign381
Athens371
Scioto360
Seneca332
Perry301
Henry290
Van Wert270
Paulding230
Vinton222
Adams211
Pike200
Jackson170
Gallia141
Harrison121
Meigs110
Noble110
Morgan90
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 93°
Angola
Few Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 92°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
92° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 93°
Decatur
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
Van Wert
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
Hot & Humid Weekend
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events