If you have some time, I suggest that you use some of it on this long, fascinating read on the final days of John Allen Chau. If you find yourself asking who is that, he’s the fellow who made it his life’s mission to contact an isolated by choice civilization in order to enlighten them and show them the wonders of Christianity. He is also a fellow who is dead as a result.
Through conversations with family, friends, acquaintances and investigators plus entries from his personal journals, we get an extremely interesting look at the man behind what I still contend is a spectacularly arrogant and stupid act, and come to perhaps understand why to him it was neither of those things.
Also interestingly, author Alex Perry had his own flirtations with the idea of contacting this very same tribe, although for different reasons. That experience helps the story along, but never slants it or leads you to feel a certain way about Chau or anyone else involved.
From his late teens, Patrick wrote, his son countenanced no “questioning or criticizing” of “this adventure of evangelism.” Patrick felt “excluded from any input.” In his journal, John asked God to “please continue to keep all of us involved hidden from the physical and spiritual forces who desire to keep the people here in darkness.” John’s rad life wasn’t exactly a front, but it hid his clandestine objective. Patrick concluded that John’s prior exploits were all in preparation for Sentinel Island.
By late 2016, Patrick felt that time was running out to try and stop his son. John had made a second trip to the Andamans and seemed more determined than ever. Brian, who found his brother’s single-mindedness just as disturbing, told his father that there was “no way to change his stubborn mind.” Patrick decided that he had to try. He confronted his son, telling him that what to him might seem like righteous commitment was evidence to anyone else of a trapped and blinkered mind. “In my observation, he was selectively collecting whatever preacher’s doctrines were in favour of his self-directed, self-governed, self-appointed plan,” he wrote.
John stuck to his belief that it was his duty to go to North Sentinel. The islanders were damned to “eternal fire” if they never heard the Gospel, and as an outdoorsman with a knack for making friends in new places, John was one of the few souls in Christendom who could save them. It felt ordained, John said, like God was calling him. Patrick believed his son was deceiving himself. This wasn’t just about helping the Sentinelese or obeying God. This was about John’s Messiah complex. He described his son as a victim of fantasies, fanatacism, and extremism.
The argument ended without resolution, and Patrick never raised the matter again. But for the next two years he was haunted by their quarrel—and by John’s certainty. He was never able to shake the feeling that he was watching his son walk calmly and confidently toward his own death.