The Last Words of John Chau’s Journal

Nov 29, 2018

John Chau, an American missionary, was killed on November 17, 2018. He gave his life to share the love of Jesus with the Sentinelese people on North Sentinel Island. John’s final days and hours are chronicled in his personal journal. It displays his heart for the Sentinelese and his love for Jesus Christ.

Since high school, John had a heart for the Sentinelese and had made extensive preparations. This was his third trip to India and the Andaman Islands since 2015. According to All Nations, he underwent extensive training as a missionary in 2017. He was a survivalist, mountain climber, certified scuba diver, an EMT, and a skilled wilderness guide who led scores of people on hiking and camping adventures throughout the Pacific Northwest. He knew how to survive in hostile climates and conditions. He packed an extensive medical kit that, among other things, included a hemostat to pinch arteries, a chest seal in case of a puncture, and dental forceps to remove arrows. 

John was an American citizen, part Irish, part Native American (Choctaw), part African, and part Chinese and Southeast Asian.

He planned to “make progressive contact” with the Sentinelese by providing gifts to show he was friendly.

After arriving, his journal expressed his human emotion as he approached a group of Sentinelese. He wrote, “I regret I began to panic slightly. And I saw them string arrows in their bows… my thoughts were directed toward the fact I was almost in arrow range. I back paddled facing them and then when they got the fish, I turned and paddled like I never have in my life, back to the boat. I felt some fear but mainly was disappointed.”


Photo credit: Times of Israel

During his next contact, he was in a kayak near the shore. The islanders were yelling. John wrote that as he “sang them some worship songs and hymns, and they would fall silent after this. Then two of them dropped their bows and took a dugout to meet me. I couldn’t tell if they were truly unarmed or not so I still kept a safe distance away and dropped off the fish and gifts and at first they poled their dugout past the gifts and were coming at me, then they turned and grabbed the gifts except for the shovel/adze. I paddled after them and exchanged some more gifts.” He wrote, “So I preached a bit to them starting in Genesis and disembarked my kayak to show that I too have two legs. I was inches from the unarmed guy.” It was at this point a young boy shot an arrow at John’s chest which burrowed halfway into his Bible that he was holding out while preaching. The arrowhead was thin, sharp metal.

On November 15, John wrote, “I’m scared. There, I said it…. Lord let your will be done. If you want me to get actually shot or even killed with an arrow, then so be it. I think I could be more useful alive though, but to You, God, I give all the glory of whatever happens. I don’t WANT to die! Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else continue? No. I don’t think so.” John also writes, “it almost seems like certain death to stay here – yet there is evidence of change in just two encounters in a single day. Will try again tomorrow.”

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