This NBC News piece on the death of John Chau was typical of the secular coverage:
NBC News: "Authorities say the 26-year-old was killed, possibly by bow and arrow, on what police described as a misplaced adventure in a highly restricted area."
Foolhardy … deluded … dumb – all are words that were used to describe John Chau, who gave his life to reach the North Sentinelese people in 2018. But Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs says from the moment Chau felt the call of God, he made every decision with those remote people in view.
"All through college, John took cold showers because he said 'Hey, I'm not going to have a water heater on the island,'" Nettleton recalls.
Two days after Chau's first contact with the Sentinelese, the fisherman who had dropped him off witnessed tribesmen burying Chau's body on the beach. Chau had gone with the permission of his missions agency, and wrote shortly before he gave his life that he didn't want to die – but was willing if God called him to.
Nettleton says that mindset and commitment is hard to understand – even for believers. "I don't know if we'll care when we get to heaven, but I think one of the questions that we'll want to ask is: Lord, why would you call him to go? Why would you sacrifice him so quickly?"
Voice of the Martyrs is honoring John Chau on this, the Day of the Christian Martyr, by placing his name alongside others on the Martyr's Memorial located at the ministry headquarters in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Nettleton says the ministry is leaning on God's promise in Revelation that some North Sentinelese people will eventually be reached.
"I know God is not done with them because there won't be, right now, Sentinelese around the throne of Christ – and Revelation [7:9-10] says that in eternity, there will be," he tells AFN.
North Sentinel Island is located 700 miles east of India, just off the coast of southern Myanmar.