In the book of Acts we see the great commission carried out by Paul who travels for years preaching and sharing the news of Jesus with the gentiles. The travel was dangerous and at times I’m sure that Paul broke laws but there’s no doubt that this was Paul’s purpose, his life’s work after his conversion. In Christianity, the belief is that disciples of Christ are called to spread the good news around the world. Let’s look at Matthew 28:18-20, And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I command you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of age.” For some this scripture is considered a concrete biblical truth, a calling which must be carried out against all odds. And for others this scripture is carried out with the consideration of other factors. An obvious factor in the case of John Chau is civil law. Consider this, does God trump civil laws?
John Chau, a graduate of Oral Roberts University was also a missionary like Paul who traveled to the dangerous and forbidden North Sentinel Island with a simple goal in mind, to try to convert the island residents to Christianity. John had traveled this road before, so he was no novice. In addition, to his travels to Israel and South Africa with an Oral Roberts group, John had traveled to North Sentinel years prior and was aware of the risks associated with this mission. However, John pressed on soliciting the help from local fisherman and others to reach the island. After being injured by arrows twice he returned to the island for a third time. But he did not return to the boat.
Lets review some facts and laws that were in place for the Sentinelese people:
· The Sentinelese have lived in complete isolation for tens of thousands of years and have a history of repelling outsiders.
· India has protected the island for decades to prevent the Sentinelese from contracting modern illnesses.
· People are not allowed to go within three miles of the island by Indian law.
· Their land is protected and that is their right under international law.
· John Chau knew the trip was illegal.
· The locals who facilitated the trip have been arrested.
The notes John left behind no doubt reveals a young man who still had questions. He wrote, “Lord, is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?”
In his note to his family and friends, John wrote, “Please do note be angry at them or at God if I get killed – rather please live your lives in obedience to whatever He has called, you to and I will see you again when you pass through the veil.”
Highlighting this young man’s missionary work is not about judgement but a thoughtful and reflective opportunity to consider the facts in this situation and your faith. If your child or loved one was compelled to live out Matthew 28:18-20 through similar missionary work what guidance or counsel would you give?