Could John Allen Chau have managed to survive on North Sentinel Island? And could he still be alive? We’re here with a very intriguing theory. Is John Allen Chau Alive? The Hidden Reality of North Sentinel Island
If I told you that there is a tribe that has been isolated from technology for 60,000 years, remains primitive and aggressive, and still exists today, would you believe me?
What if I said there was a man who dared to visit the island, where even approaching would require courage, inhabited by this tribe all by himself?
How do you think this fierce and aggressive tribe might have greeted this brave man?
Today, we will delve into the depths of John Allen Chau’s life, a story unknown and unspoken by many. While his actions may seem incomprehensible and absurd to many, we will unveil his inner mission that justified risking his own life.
For many, John Allen Chau’s name might merely be a headline or a topic of discussion. However, when we delve deep into this extraordinary man’s life, we will see how he passionately believed in a mission that many couldn’t understand or even rejected.
His story not only tells of an adventurer’s brave journey but also illustrates how far one can go for their beliefs. At a glance, Chau’s actions might seem irrational or nonsensical. But looking deeper into his motivations and how he internalized his mission, we will realize his story is not just his own but a reflection of human nature and faith.
We’ll also touch on minority theories suggesting he might still be alive, and I will present this possibility from a different perspective, introducing a strong theory.
When you learn about John’s story, I believe that regardless of your faith, you will respect his profound love for the creator.
Chau was born in Alabama but grew up near the Northwestern shores of the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver, Washington. He was raised alongside two siblings by a psychiatrist father of Chinese descent and a lawyer mother who was American. As a child, he had two passions which eventually intertwined: adventures in nature and Jesus Christ.
Chau was raised in a Christian family. They were members of the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal church where some members spoke in tongues. He attended Vancouver Christian High School, a warm community with a total of 90 students across seven grades.
Innately hardworking, Chau excelled academically and in extracurriculars. He actively participated in club activities and charitable works. He achieved the most prestigious medal in the Royal Rangers, a Pentecostal scouting organization. One requirement to receive this medal was to read or listen to the entire Bible.
A missionary trip to Mexico during his high school years left a profound impact on him. Upon his return, he gave a talk sharing his experiences and said, “We cannot be lukewarm. We must be able to defend our faith.” He continued, “When we step out into the world, we will encounter those who oppose us and question us. That’s why we need to know exactly what and why we believe.”
It All Started with Robinson Crusoe
When John Allen Chau was just a little boy, he stumbled upon an illustrated edition of Robinson Crusoe while rummaging through the books in his father’s study. This classic tale of survival on a deserted island had a profound impact on him.
Later on, he wrote on a nature enthusiast-themed website: “In the early years of primary school, to overcome my difficulties in reading English, I turned to simpler children’s books like The Sign of the Beaver. These stories inspired my brother and me to paint our faces with wild blackberry juice and embark on adventures in the garden with handmade bows and spears.”
Moreover, he admired figures such as naturalist John Muir, explorer David Livingstone, and Bruce Olson, who converted the Bari people of South America to Christianity. These individuals became his idols.
The Moment He First Learned About North Sentinel Island
Chau had a character that deeply revered God, loved nature, and tended to push his boundaries. Given these traits, his interest in becoming a missionary was quite natural.
During his high school years, he came across information about the Sentinel people on the missionary database called Joshua Project.
The Joshua Project website described the Sentinel people as a ‘highly isolated’ community and noted that the Indian government had prohibited entry to North Sentinel Island, where they resided.
The site recommended prayers for a favorable stance from the Indian government so Christians could establish relationships and live among the Sentinel people.
Additionally, the website emphasized the Sentinels’ need not only for basic health services but also the awareness that God loved them and had paid a price for them.
In light of this information, a stunned John had fallen head over heels for this tribe.
Perhaps he thought he had found the mission he had been seeking for years.
He was determined to visit this island, talk to the tribe about Jesus Christ, and share his Christian faith with them.
John was inspired by the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 in the Bible for this mission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”
Chau had teamed up with All Nations, a missionary group based in Kansas City, Mo., which sent Christian missionaries to 40 countries.
The goal of the organization “All Nations” is to spread the gospel and train missionaries to establish churches in regions where the name of Jesus Christ is unknown.
This organization represents a small but influential segment in the missionary community that emphasizes the comprehensiveness of this mission.
In 2018, according to estimates by the Center for Global Christianity Research, there were 440,000 active Christian missionaries. Even though the idea of spreading religion to untouched tribes is not universally accepted in missionary work, we know that this approach exists.
Grig, a representative from Survival International, states that mainstream missionary organizations have not focused on these tribes since the early 1990s. However, stories are heard of efforts to spread religion to such tribes, not specifically North Sentinel Island.
One of these missionaries was John Allen Chau.
Chau described Sentinel Island as the last stronghold of the devil, inhabited by people who had not yet encountered a religion. But he knew that this mission wouldn’t be easy. Before heading there, he had to prepare thoroughly. Learning from what had happened to previous visitors to the island, he devised a long-term strategy. He was about to immerse himself in a training process that would last for years…
John Allen Chau’s Training
First and foremost, he trained himself in outdoor leadership. Since he didn’t know the language of the Sentinel people, he took linguistics training.
He read books on subjects like missionary work and cultural anthropology. He received training for emergency medical situations and physically prepared himself. Additionally, in the United States, he attended a special training camp for missionaries. In this camp, how missionaries would react to mock attacks was tested.
For three summers in the U.S., he lived in a small cabin working as a watchman and emergency nurse.
Before setting out to North Sentinel Island in October 2018, he had 13 different vaccines to prevent infecting the islanders and had eye surgery to get rid of his need for glasses. Thinking about the welfare of the islanders, he also went through a two-week quarantine process.
And finally, when our calendars showed November 14, 2018, he embarked on an adventure that no one else dared to take.
To appear as non-threatening as possible to the islanders, John had said he wanted to go to the dangerous island alone instead of with a group. And to appear friendly, he brought some gifts to give to the islanders, like a ball and fish.
So how was John going to reach this island, which was prohibited by the government to even approach within 9 km?
Of course, John Allen Chau had thought of this too. He bribed a fisherman with the $30,000 he had saved throughout his life to convince him to take the forbidden route to the island.
They set out quietly towards the island as night fell. However, as they approached the shore, the fisherman lost his nerve and refused to go any further.
From that moment, John Allen Chau decided to continue his journey in a small canoe. He was on the verge of the moment he had trained for and dreamt of for nearly 8 years, and he was filled with adrenaline.
To not be seen by the local people as a foreign threat, he had to be like them, which meant removing his clothes…
As he approached the shore, some locals with faces painted yellow emerged from the depths of the forest. John Allen Chau called out, “I’m John! I don’t want to hurt you.”
However, one of the locals threw an arrow at John Allen Chau. The first arrow lodged into the Bible in John’s hand. With subsequent arrows, John (seemingly slightly injured) fell into the sea, and the locals seized his canoe.
John began a challenging swim back to the fishing boat waiting in the distance. Taking refuge on the boat, John wrote the events in his diary.
”I yelled some phrase in Xhosa and 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 still I got 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 yells of comments unintelligible words with them.
Here’s when this nice meet and greet went south. A child and a young woman both with bows came behind the two gift receivers with bows drums and…
I kept waving my hands to say “no bad” but they didn’t get the meaning I guess. I tossed the adze/shovel a midway distance between all of us and then began talking to the two unarmed guys. They came over to get it but unfortunately they grabbed a bamboo knife.
By this time the wind had picked up and the kayak was set near some shallow coral.
The islanders saw that and blocked my exit. One blocked (unarmed) while other (bamboo knife) waded along the coral. Then little kid with bow and arrow came down the middle and I figured that was it.
So I preached a bit to them starting in Genesis and disembarked my kayak to show them that I too have two legs. I was inches from the unarmed guy (well built with a round face and fly on his right face cheek, and yellowish pigment circles on his cheeks. And about 5 ft. 5”)
and gave him a bunch of the scissors and gifts as they got bundled together – so basically I gave them all the gift-type items (except for some spares in my cached gear) and then they took the kayak … and the little man shot me with an arrow – directly into my Bible which I was holding of my chest. I grabbed the arrow shaft in front it broke in my Bible (on pg 433 Isaiah 63:5-65:2)
and felt the arrowhead. It was metal, thin but very sharp. I stumbled back and I recall yelling at the kid for shooting me – now as I look back at it, my Bible cover looks like bark – like tree bark, so maybe he was just being curious but yikes it sure gave me a fright.
They left me alive as I half waded half swam through the broken coral to the deep part of the cove where I found their dugouts cached if they chased me.
I had to swim almost a mile back to the boat at the mouth of the cove … as I got closer I thought a rock was the boat then I saw the boat with figures with their arms up waving and I thought briefly that another group of Sentinelese had attacked the boat while they were watching me but thank God that wasn’t the case. Although I now have no kayak, or my small pelican and its contents, I’m grateful that I still have the written word of God.
The plan now is to rest and sleep on the boat and in the morning to drop me off by the cache and then I walk along the beach toward the same hut I’ve been giving gifts to. It’s weird –actually no, it’s natural”
John gave his notebook to a fisherman to deliver to his friend, Alex. Whatever happened, it seemingly didn’t dampen his determination. The following day, John made another attempt, but it turned out to be his last. The fisherman, who accompanied him, was arrested and imprisoned after the incident.
According to the fisherman’s statement, John had been tied up with a rope and dragged by the locals. In response to John’s actions and news of his death, thousands on social media labeled Chau as “selfish”, “disrespectful”, and “foolish” for embarking on the trip.
The comments were ruthless. But John had a compassionate heart. He risked himself solely for his faith. John harbored no resentment towards the island’s inhabitants. On the contrary, despite enduring arrow attacks, he still wished for their forgiveness.
In a heartfelt note in his diary, he had written, “If they kill me, may God forgive them.”
In fact, to ensure no harm came to the islanders, John Allen Chau had quarantined himself for two weeks and received 13 vaccinations. So, he did not deserve the cruel remarks from the public.
Even setting aside all the training he had received, John’s devotion to this mission and his sensitive, love-filled heart could be understood from just one fact:
He was so committed to this mission that to avoid leaving behind a broken heart, he had never engaged in any romantic relationship. He never had a girlfriend, even though he was quite popular among girls.
According to his friends, John Allen Chau “loved God, loved life, and loved helping those in need. He held nothing but love for the Sentinel people.”
Furthermore, John was a beloved and exemplary individual in his community. A classmate from ORU described John by saying, “John had a unique way of making people feel seen, valuable, and loved.” After talking with John, the classmate would get into their car and pray, “God, make me more like John.”
The diary in which Chau wrote about his final days, handed to the fisherman, surfaced shortly after his death.
In an entry addressed to his parents, he wrote, “You all might think I’m crazy in this situation, but I believe it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people… If I die, don’t be angry at them or God.”
John’s friend, John Middleton Ramsey, also defended his actions, stating, “His motivation was his love for the Sentinel people. If you believe in heaven and hell, then what he did was the most loving act a person could do.”
But had John really died? You might be thinking, “What do you mean?” Is such a thing even possible?
Could John Allen Chau Still Be Alive?
While this is a possibility voiced by few, I believe it carries strong arguments, perhaps even stronger than those suggesting his death. Based on my research, I will contribute to this theory with an analysis.
Firstly, the only evidence pointing to John’s death is the testimony of the fisherman who took him to the island. A man who was bribed to take John to the perilous island.
Let’s keep this in mind and move on.
It’s not just a minority that believes in this theory. John’s mother and friend also believe it…
Linda Chau, John’s mother, due to the fact that his body still hasn’t been found, believes her son might still be alive, stating she “has feelings that John could still be alive.”
John’s close friend, John Middleton Ramsey, in an interview with The Sun Online, mentioned he believes his friend might have survived the attack and that the authorities shouldn’t overlook this possibility.
“I still think there’s a chance he could be alive. I can’t say it’s not a possibility.”
John’s friend highlighted that the claims by the fishermen, which suggest John was targeted by arrows and dragged along the beach by the tribe members, came from just one source, making it insufficient.
“There weren’t many eyewitnesses, so given that his body hasn’t been found, even if it’s a small chance, we shouldn’t ignore it.”
So, how could John Allen Chau still be alive? And how could he have managed it?
According to what John’s friend recounted, John had shared his plans with some people before heading to the island.
The young missionary hoped to spend time on the island living among the Sentinel people, learning their language, converting them to Christianity, and even translating the Bible for them.
However, John Allen Chau stated he didn’t plan to immediately start preaching the Bible to the Sentinel people; he wanted to befriend them first and gain knowledge about their culture.
Ramsey revealed that John Allen Chau had been planning a trip to North Sentinel Island since high school.
Emphasizing that his friend was an excellent planner, Ramsey shared about John’s plans: “When he returned, he told me about his plans to go back, and he wasn’t going to start preaching the Bible as soon as he arrived on the island; he wanted to get to know the people first.”
“To know the people, learn their language, and eventually when he knew the language well enough, to share the Bible with them and maybe, in the long term, translate the Bible into their language.”
John had a natural inclination towards planning, and this was fully evident during this process. He planned what to take with him, listed his equipment, and then decided how much of it would fit into the boxes he planned to hide on the island before meeting with the locals.
John had plans for the first day, early objectives, and even a Plan B in case things didn’t go as intended.
Plan A was to communicate with the islanders, live among them until he could learn their language and culture. Then, he would share with them the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He was well aware that this might take years, maybe even decades.
His meticulous planning also included a Plan B: The possibility that the tribal members might not welcome him or even might kill him, just as they did with two fishermen who drifted onto the North Sentinel coast in 2006.
Even when contemplating his ultimate decisions and details, his friends saw a man who used his abilities to the fullest.
Could John have plotted a fake death story to be able to stay on the island for many years? John’s body was never found. He had requested that, if killed, his body should be left on the island.
Do things start to make sense in your mind now? Let me elucidate further.
For John, success meant staying on the island for years and integrating into their community. Towards this goal, knowing very little about the Sentinel language, he took a linguistics course from a branch of the Wycliffe Bible Translators, hoping it would help him communicate with the islanders.
Additionally, he received medical training and acquired a wilderness EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) certification to provide basic health services to the Sentinelese.
Knowing that their immune systems would be vulnerable to imported Western viruses, he got vaccinated against every possible disease and underwent laser eye surgery so he wouldn’t have to worry about keeping his contact lenses clean.
Aware that there would be no hot water on the island, John even started taking cold showers daily to help his body adapt.
John was so focused on serving on the island that he had an aerial image of North Sentinel hanging on his dorm room wall.
During his free time, he read books that would aid in his preparation for the island: missionary biographies, linguistics books, cultural anthropology books.
A former representative from the student missions office at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where John attended, remarked, “He had conditioned his body, mind, and spirit. He was among the most prepared individuals I’ve ever met.”
In a VOM Radio interview, Mary Ho, the executive leader of All Nations, stated, “In reality, John was one of the most well-prepared and intentional missionaries I’ve ever encountered.” She continued, “He would call us and ask, ‘How do I better prepare myself to learn more about cultural anthropology?’ We would reply, ‘Alright, here are 10 [or] 20 books on the topic.’ He’d say, ‘Oh, I’ve read half of them.’ Literally, in two weeks, he’d come back and say, ‘I’ve finished reading them. What’s next?’
What I’m trying to convey is that John had sought every possible education and information for this mission over a span of 8-10 years.
His idea of success was to reside on the island for many years. But how could he achieve that? The government was stringently protecting the island to safeguard its inhabitants from viruses.
Undoubtedly, the presence of another human there was prohibited. If the fisherman hadn’t reported seeing John’s death, it would have stirred the government and John’s family into action. They would have surely attempted to retrieve him, considering both the health of the islanders and John’s life.
However, the government would never engage in a confrontation with the islanders for someone presumed dead and reportedly dragged away by a, for lack of a better term, cannibalistic tribe. Such an altercation would be perilous for the islanders.
Moreover, the team dispatched to identify his body was also attacked and repelled. So, for John to remain there for years, it was essential for everyone to believe he had perished on the island. After all, his will explicitly mentioned that his body should not be retrieved if he died.
So, where does this theory lead us? Perhaps John gave the fisherman extra money to inform the authorities that he saw him die. Do you really think a fisherman, who transported John to one of the most dangerous islands in the world for money, would decline such an offer? Come on.
Once believed to be dead by everyone, John could have spent years on the island, closely observing the island inhabitants. He would learn their languages and analyze them.
John was well aware that his family would alert the authorities, and the fisherman would be apprehended, leading to a search for him.
Do you think someone who had received years of education and developed plans and strategies wouldn’t know that the only way to achieve his purpose was to be presumed dead?
Would a man, who had undergone years of training, not know that he would face an arrow attack upon arriving at the island, given that his death reportedly took just 5 minutes?
According to reports, John had already approached North Sentinel Island multiple times and had identified the islanders’ settlements. He even placed boxes with supplies on certain parts of the island that could aid in his survival.
John might have made a deal with the fisherman. In his diary, he wrote concerning the fishermen, “If things go south, the fishermen won’t have to witness my death.”
So, John clearly states his intention to go to the island of his own free will, and if he died, he didn’t want the fishermen to suffer the trauma. He may have added these lines to protect them from any police suspicion.
But could the last moments John wrote in his diary be an excerpt from a fictional story? Now, if you’re ready, I’ll take you to a very different point.
John’s feigned death might be concealed under the name Bruce Olson…
WHO IS BRUCE OLSON?
Chau was fond of the novel “Hatchet.” This book narrates the survival struggle of a boy who crashes alone in the wilds of Alaska.
Moreover, he admired figures like naturalist John Muir, explorer David Livingstone, and Bruce Olson, who converted South America’s Bari tribe to Christianity.
The biggest clue lies with Bruce Olson, one of Chau’s heroes.
Who is Bruce Olson?
In 1961, at the age of 19, after being rejected for missionary work, Olson dropped out of university and set out for Venezuela. He eventually reached the remote Motilone tribe (also known as Bari) along the Colombian border.
Initially, he was greeted with flying arrows, one of which stuck in his leg.
Doesn’t this remind you of John’s initial landing attempt on North Sentinel?
Olson was eventually accepted by the tribe and has since lived with or near them.
Upon returning, he wrote a book that sold more than 300,000 copies, becoming somewhat of a guide to serving uncontacted communities.
The book seemed to illustrate the missionary literature notion that uncontacted tribes would eventually be receptive to the Gospel if approached with humility and patience.
Olson’s success, according to missionary standards, only strengthened this perception. A missionary website estimates that 70% of the Motilone are now Christian.
Did Chau imagine himself as an Olson figure for the Sentinelese? As you can see, was John’s diary account of the initial attack and his subsequent plans inspired by Olson’s story?
Maybe, just like Olson, he wanted to live there for years and, upon returning, write a guide-like book about his experiences. We can’t know for sure what John planned, but the life stories of his idols, the education he received, and his mission lead us to believe that there’s a possibility that John might still be alive. Could John live on the island without being caught by the locals for years?
The area of North Sentinel Island: 59.67 km² Considering estimates suggest the population is between 50 to 400 people, John could easily observe the tribe from a distance using tools like binoculars he placed on the island beforehand, learn their language, and later approach them effectively using the tactics he developed. So, there’s quite a vast area to live without getting caught. Do you think John Allen Chau could still be alive?
John Allen Chau’s story reminds us that the search for hope and meaning is universal, even in the most isolated corners of the world. His adventure was not just a physical journey, but also a dive into the depths and limits of the human spirit.
Chau’s courage and dedication reflect the power of faith and mankind’s endless curiosity for the unknown. Perhaps his greatest legacy is to remind us that, despite our differences, we all live in the same universe, grappling with the same questions…
For detailed information about North Sentinel Island, you can click the link Stay with love, stay with mystery, goodbye…
Even though our beliefs differ, I appreciate John’s love for the Creator. This article was not made to commend John’s action, but to show that he is not someone to be mocked, and that he has a very good heart.
I know that those who speak ill of this man, who sacrificed his life for his love of the Creator, have little to no knowledge about his life and sacrifices. Even if I don’t support and find logical John’s action, I cannot turn a blind eye to the belittling of his sacrifices. Although our beliefs might be different, I do not find the mocking attitudes made behind someone who strives to ensure that no one’s heart is broken, to be pleasant. I wish for those who mock even the death of a 26-year-old young man, who didn’t want to harm anyone, to cleanse their consciences. John did not die, but unfortunately, your hearts seem to have died.