TULSA -- Oral Roberts University officials released statements Tuesday regarding the presumed death of John Allen Chau, who is believed to have been slain by a remote tribe he was trying to contact in the Indian Ocean.
“John left a legacy of servanthood while at ORU,” said ORU President Dr. William M. Wilson. “Our alumni have been reaching to the uttermost bounds of the earth for over 50 years bringing hope and healing to millions. While we grieve John’s death, we rejoice in knowing the hope of Christ’s resurrection and believe that John’s sacrifice reflects the love of Christ for all humanity.”
Chau went on two mission trips while at ORU, both to Cape Town, South Africa, in 2012 and 2014.
"There was never a time that I didn't enjoy being around this incredible, yet humble man," said Bobby Parks, who was the ORU Missions Director at the time Chau attended the school. "He was always the most thoughtful, loving, compassionate, and prepared servant leader I ever served Jesus and others with. I loved John Chau not only like a friend, but a brother… He lived to serve and sacrifice for others, yet those of us who were privileged to be close enough to know his quirks and humor and tender personality will always know him not just as a famous missionary, but one of the best and most selfless human beings there ever was. John knew the worth and value of Jesus and His Gospel of love for all. So much so that he wanted to share that love with the world, no matter what it cost him."
Authorities in India have decided to hold off retrieving the body of the American national feared killed on North Sentinel Island amid concerns about a possible confrontation with the tribe that lives there.
John Allen Chau is believed to have been killed by Sentinelese tribespeople after he visited their island home in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago in November, breaching local laws strictly prohibiting contact with the isolated people.
"I share in the grief felt by John’s family and friends," said ORU Professor of Biology John Korstad. "I knew John as one of my students and as a friend. He loved life and people because he loved the Lord. His persistent smile and encouraging words were always refreshing. His legacy lives on through all of us who loved him. May we be equally bold in loving others with Christ’s love and compassion."
Traveling on a tourist visa, Chau arrived at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in October with one mission: preach to the Sentinelese.
“I remember us discussing his desire to be a missionary in some of the most difficult places in the world,” ORU alumnus Joshua Wagner wrote on social media. “The fire only grew as John targeted truly one of the most unreached people groups on the planet. He counted the Sentinelese people as worthy of the Gospel and willingly gave his life for them.”
Indian authorities say Chau was 27, but Mat Staver, founder of a Christian ministry that Chau was involved with as a college student, gave Chau's age as 26.
He had traveled to the remote island years ago and returned knowing that his mission was illegal and risky. Still, he wanted to get to know the islanders' way of life. He hoped to eventually share the gospel and perhaps translate the Bible, said a friend, John Middleton Ramsey.
“After listening, reflecting and discussing this very unique situation with others in the ORU community, I am convinced that John believed God called him to reach the most isolated people groups in the world," said President Wilson. "His heart was bursting with love for them. This overwhelming passion led him outside the normal boundaries and pushed him to do what others could not and would not do. He prepared himself mentally, physically and spiritually for years to pursue this passion. There was no perfect way to do this but I am convinced John did not want to hurt anyone. I am also sure he never dreamed his martyrdom would create a global media storm nor did he want to be famous. He was simply willing to commit his whole life if necessary so these precious people could know the love of Jesus Christ. Our prayers continue for John’s family and friends during this time of loss.”
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