A tiny island east of India in the Bay of Bengal is the host of a tribe of ancient people numbering between 50 and 150 who have lived in complete isolation from the modern world for 60,000 years. Who knew? This tribe has survived and preserved its quasi-Stone Age culture by violently responding to any extraneous visitation to the island.
While there have been previous attempts, all of which have ended in demise, the most recent incident was the death of 27 year old missionary, John Allen Chau from Washington State. Chau felt a responsibility to attempt to share the Gospel with these ancient people and, breaking Indian protective law, asked fishermen to deliver him to the forbidden island. The morning after Chau’s final trip, the fishermen confirmed witnessing his body being dragged and buried in the sand.
While sharing the Gospel is a noble and indeed essential requirement of living as a Christian, Chau’s effort was not the way to best love and respect the Sentinelese people. Chau would have had little chance of communicating, much less converting the people and rather a likely chance of transmitting death through exposure.
Nevertheless, what a marvel in today’s world to know we still share the planet with pre-modern people. We do well to respect the boundaries of others; one of the universal truths.