LGBTQ Magazine

More on Missionary John Allen Chau: "You Go on a Beach, You Throw a Fish at Some People, You Holler at Them" — This Is Missionizing?

Posted on the 05 December 2018 by William Lindsey @wdlindsy

Several days ago, I posted some reflections about the story of American Christian missionary John Allen Chau, who was killed by the Sentinelese recently after he insisted on going to North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal to missionize them, though he had been warned that doing so would place him in grave danger. As my posting noted, this story has placed religious missionizing in the spotlight of the mainstream media. It raises serious questions about how Christians understand (or should understand missionizing) — a topic that has been fruitfully discussed for some time now in theology programs in which new understandings of mission are emerging.
Here are some pieces I've read after my previous posting about this story, which I'd like to share with you:
Ruth Graham, "Martyr or 'American Dickhead'? Why missionary John Allen Chau's death on a remote Indian island is so unsettling to Christians":
Part of the reason Chau's story has prompted a backlash among both Christians and secular observers is because Chau seemed to approach the island with a cartoonish style of Western swagger. In his diary, parts of which have been made public by his family, he wrote of attempting to befriend the islanders with offerings of scissors and safety pins, and by singing Christian "worship songs." "There's been such a sea change in evangelical missiology over the past 50 years about the danger of cultural imperialism," said Thomas Kidd, a historian at Baylor University who wrote a blog post about media reactions to Chau's death.  ...
If Chau had been acting as a rogue agent, his missteps would be easier for Christians to dismiss as an aberration unrelated to traditional missionary work. That's how it seemed when the story of his death first emerged: He had traveled to the island by himself, and it wasn't clear whether he was affiliated with an agency with an expertise in the logistics and ethics of cross-cultural missionary work. 
As it turns out, however, Chau had indeed received training and support from a number of American evangelical missions groups.

Megan Specia, "American's Death Revives Evangelical Debate Over Extreme Missionary Work," quoting Scott Moreau, professor at Wheaton College's Graduate School:
I'm appalled by the naïveté of thinking you go on a beach, you throw a fish at some people, you holler at them, and then you come back and spend the night and everything is going to be fine. It doesn't show much sensitivity, and it doesn't show much common sense.

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