ARTICLE

The Media & The Missionary

News Image By John Stonestreet/Breakpoint.org December 06, 2018
Share this article:

Sixty years ago, when a group of missionaries were killed in the Amazon, the world and the church talked about their faith and courage. Boy, have times changed.

By now, you've undoubtedly heard about the death of John Allen Chau, the 27-year-old missionary who was killed by the natives of North Sentinel Island. And you've heard a lot of opining about his death, too.


North Sentinel Island is home to one of the last uncontacted people on earth. The Sentinelese, as they're called by outsiders, reject, often violently, any attempts at outside contact. In the thirteenth century Marco Polo described them as a "most violent and cruel generation who seem to eat everybody they catch."

Not much has changed since. Thus, no one knows much about them at all. No one is even sure how many people live on the island.

Chau's death drew immediate comparisons to the story of Jim Elliot, one of the five American missionaries killed by Auca natives of the Amazonian Ecuador in 1952. His story was told in the 1957 classic "Through Gates of Splendor," by his wife Elisabeth.

The book has inspired countless numbers of Christians, including me. Even before that book was published, many Americans knew the story from a 1956, ten-page article in Life magazine entitled "Go Ye And Preach the Gospel." The title wasn't ironic. It was a respectful, even admiring, account of their sacrifice and their widows' efforts to complete the work they gave their lives for.


Here's an actual quote from the Life article, "The wives carry on, trusting that the Aucas will still be saved."

Can you imagine a mainstream publication saying anything like that today? How times have changed. Elliot was lionized, but Chau was an obsessed fanatic, a would-be colonizer and agent of cultural imperialism.

Legitimate questions remain about the prudence of Chau's actions. Much was made about the risk of spreading infections to the Sentinelese for which they have no immunity, though my friend and colleague Ed Stetzer has helpfully corrected the gut-level, and ultimately wrong, accusation  that Chau was an unprepared, vigilante lone-ranger.

Still this whole cultural episode speaks volumes.  For example, Janet Street-Porter, a columnist at the UK's Independent newspaper, called Chau's efforts "an act of cultural imperialism and insane arrogance." His story, she says, is "another example of two of the worse kinds of environmental pollution: aggressive pushing of faith to another culture and the introduction of 'gifts' which undermine their way of life."

She continues, "John Chau claimed he wanted to introduce Christ to the Sentinelese - but why would their own culture not include a deity, a belief in the afterlife or some sense of fulfilling spirituality? Why would his evangelical creed be superior or necessary?" She calls this belief "hard to stomach."

You can quickly sniff out the embedded secular assumptions in her question, but harder to stomach is how people like Street-Porter don't advocate a similar hands-off approach to other cultures when it comes to causes they care about.


We've yet to hear a secularist outcry over the American government's efforts, especially under the last administration, to use international aid as a cover for colonizing developing nations in abortion rights and LGBT ideologies.

No, Secretary of State Clinton was lauded for making gay rights a priority, and it didn't matter what long-established beliefs a culture held.

You'll never hear them applaud people like African Christian pro-life activist Uju Ekeocha who oppose Western "colonialist" efforts to inflict abortion on traditional African cultures. One wonders if Chau would still be a modern-day villain had he been trying to talk the Sentinelese out of homophobia.

No, our culture's problem with Chau wasn't that he was a missionary seeking to convert the Sentinelese -- it was that he represented the wrong belief system.

Originally published at Breakpoint.org - reposted with permission.




Other News

June 29, 2020Social Media War On Christian Content - Worship Now Deemed 'Harmful'

Instagram is censoring a Christian worship leader who wants to post videos of praise and worship from places where there has recently been...

June 29, 2020I Am A Watchman - Interview With Founder Of Prophecy News Watch

If you have been wanting to learn more about the origins of Prophecy News Watch and how it came about as well as some commentary on what i...

June 29, 2020The Culture Wars Come For The White Jesus Statues

What, exactly, did Jesus look like? Was he black? Brown? White? Red? Yellow? We know that he was a first-century, Galilean Jew. But, beyon...

June 29, 2020The Growing Use Of Social Credit Scores To Reward/Punish Citizens

The ever-increasing centralization of data is creating the push towards a scoring system by which governments will rate their populations....

June 24, 2020Globalists Reveal That The 'Great Economic Reset' Is Coming In 2021

Now in 2020 we see the globalist plan coming to fruition, with the elites revealing what appears to be their intent to launch their reset ...

June 24, 2020The Conservative Effort To Reshape The Supreme Court Has Failed

It is time to admit the truth. Throughout my entire lifetime, Republican presidential candidates have promised us that if we help get the...

June 24, 2020Race Is Not What Is Dividing Us

My fellow-Americans, we are being sold a bill of goods. Race is not what is dividing us. Rather, we are being divided by competing ideolog...

Get Breaking News