Missionary Killed by Tribe Put Multiple Lives in Danger
The other day, I read about a group ‘demanding justice’ for a missionary killed by a remote tribe. As I see it, he shouldn’t have gone there to begin with.
Friends of the young missionary killed by a remote tribe on an Indian island claim he was obsessed with reaching the tribe.
That’s despite the fact that the tribe is protected by law from outside contact. The 26-year-old, described as anavid outdoorsman was killed on Nov. 17 after visiting North Sentinel Island. (At least, he is believed to have been killed.)
The tribe that is said to have killed him with bows and arrows is so remote that it’s considered one of the last tribes in the world to have resisted any contact with the rest of humanity.
Tribe protected by Indian policy
People reported that the missionary told friends he was determined to get to the island, despite the fact that the Indian government has banned anyone from making contact with the tribe. The magazine reported he also spoke of spending time “studying how to bypass military patrols.”
Beyond breaking the law, he could have unknowingly put the tribe at serious health risk. Because it is so remote, the tribe’s members are not immune to conditions most of us are: something as simple as a cold could apparently put them at risk of death
The missionary ignored all of this.
The tribe is so determined not to be disturbed by the outside that it has violently attacked those who dare approach. I saw a photograph of a member of the tribe trying to throw a spear at a helicopter that was flying over the island some time ago just to check on their welfare.
The missionary ignored that threat of violence.
No one can claim that he didn’t understand the danger. In a letter to his parents, he wrote:
“Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed.”
In his diaries leading up to his death, he wrote this apparently to God:
“If you want me to actually get shot with an arrow or even killed, then so be it.”
By placing himself in such danger, he also potentially placed others in danger. Officials say Indian authorities are trying to track down those involved in helping the missionary illegally reach the island. On top of that, after they reported seeing tribesmen dragging the missionary’s body across the beach, authorities had to figure out how to recover his remains.
Ultimately, because of the risk to anyone who would attempt to do so, Indian authorities decided they would not try.
The missionary was so focused on what he apparently considered was his “calling” that he didn’t consider the dangers he might cause for others, either.
That’s a shame. All the way around.
His death is tragic. His goal, to try to minister to people who — apparently — have not heard of Jesus Christ was admirable.
But the method he chose to accomplish this impossible mission was ill-advised at best.
A remaining question
Going to such lengths, in my mind, brings up a familiar and long-debated question: Can people who have never been reached by the Gospel really be sent to Hell?
The answer, I think, has to do with what the Bible tells us about the character of God. If God loves us so much as to have given his Son to die for us on the cross, and if God is truly just, the answer has to be no.
The tribe, never given the opportunity to hear God’s Word, shouldn’t be subject to the law that some Christians might insist would automatically mean a fiery sentence.
Regardless, I think that’s not a call any of us can make: I think God will make that decision.
I trust Him to make the right choice.