John Allen Chau was martyred while trying to bring the gospel to the Sentinelese people sometime between November 16 and November 19. There have been numerous stories written about Chau’s martyrdom. Baptist Press wrote this story if you’re not familiar with Chau’s death.
I’d like to take an introspective look at Chau’s martyrdom. Instead of asking questions about his methodology, we should examine our hearts. Here are five questions:
- Are we willing to be martyred for Christ? That’s the obvious question, but it’s a tough question. Every believer should answer in the affirmative. It’s easy to answer “yes” when sitting in a climate controlled sanctuary, a seminary classroom, or a weekend retreat surrounded by ebullient millennials. What if Chau had asked us to accompany him? What would we have done? Would we have lectured him on wisdom and prudence, or would we have gotten in the boat with him?
- What is our responsibility to others? While I write this post, two sets of eyes are staring at me. I’m responsible for them, my wife and three other kids. At what point should I be responsible, knowing that my martyrdom would leave a widow and five fatherless children? In 2010, I was preparing to go on a mission trip to Guatemala. My wife was pregnant with our third child and several well meaning Christians counseled me not to participate because if something happened, my children would be fatherless. I was even told, “There will be time for missions later.” I was horrified and sad. Jesus had an answer for this question. He was very blunt. He told His followers to hate their families. He used the word hate. We don’t use the word hate around our house, but Jesus unambiguously called us to surrender anything and everything that is valuable to us. This includes our families. My answer to this question: I’d rather my kids grow up knowing their daddy was a martyr than never knowing the true cost of following Christ. I hope I never have to make that choice.
- How are we doing in our missions efforts? There are far too many unreached and uncontacted people groups. Why aren’t we reaching them? Are we even trying to reach them? After Chau’s death, the Twitterverse was ablaze with disparaging comments, some from pastors and church leaders. The question is not, should John Chau have gone to that remote island? The question should be, why, in an era of unparalleled technology, was he the first missionary to share the gospel with these people? Also, why are there still some 3000 plus unreached people groups? We have the most powerful weapon of hope in history. David Platt said at the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors conference, “When will we stop telling the world to go to hell?”
- When does the gospel override planning and structure? Do we need structure? Yes we do. Do we need careful and diligent planning? Yes we do. But more than planning, structure, and sound methodologies, we need passionate gospel proclaimers. We need to be passionate gospel proclaimers. The gospel is not beholden to any structure, denomination, or organization. The gospel and the gospel alone has the power to save. Paul wrote in Romans, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news.” John Chau’s feet are beautiful. How do our feet look?
- Will we see a fresh commitment to reach the lost? There are unreached people groups in the farthest corners of the world, but there are also unreached people in groups in our own towns. Will we see a fresh commitment from Christians to reach everyone with the gospel of Christ? Or will John Allen Chau’s martyrdom be a cautionary tale in how not to engage a hostile people group? If John Allen Chau can kayak two miles in the hopes of sharing the gospel with an unknown people, then we should be able to cross the street and engage our neighbors.
These are the questions we should be asking ourselves. It’s easy to play armchair quarterback to what seems, on the surface, to be a fool’s errand, but I like John Allen Chau’s method of evangelizing over and above my method of not evangelizing. The unequivocal truth is this: A twenty six year old man dared to bring the gospel to a people he was almost certain would kill him if given the chance. He died sharing his faith. Do we even live sharing ours?