What is the worth of a man’s life? Regardless of what it may mean to others, it means a lot to God and in the grand scheme of things the fact that it matters to God is of utmost importance and eternal significance. John Allen Chau, a 26 year old American adventurer and missionary was killed on the remote North Sentinel Island attempting to befriend an isolated and hostile tribe. Many have heralded the efforts of this young man acknowledging his courage and determination, whilst others have criticised him for what he did saying that his efforts were futile, endangering his own life and that of others and not thinking through the negative consequences of this rather gruesome ending.
Many unheralded heroes have given their lives up for the sake of the Gospel. Many have left homes, careers and comforts trusting God and obeying his call to missions to serve in difficult places. Many have willingly given of their lives on the frontline, so the name of Jesus can be heard from the very lips of the people who often times took their lives and the lives of those dear to them. John Chau was no exception to that irrevocable call of Christ and we can admire him for the courage it took for him to step out and make a difference. In my opinion, God would be most concerned about whether John was obedient to the divine calling and fully surrendered to the cause of the Gospel. There is no doubt in my mind that he was. Whilst strategy, planning and wisdom is important and there may be some things that could have been done differently, what we have witnessed is a life totally committed to the call of Christ and we can give thanks to God for that.
Many like John who ventured out into hostile territories and among resistant people groups especially in pioneering missions, didn’t see much fruit in their lifetime let alone in decades afterwards. But the Lord does his work, beyond the limited purview of man and mission history is testament to this fact. We may or may not see what transformation John’s martyrdom will bring among Christ-followers, unbelievers and among that unreached people group that he tried to bring the Gospel to. But we can rest assured that God knows what He is doing and that one day in the future he will bring to himself people from every tribe, tongue and people group who will be before the throne of God, praising and worshipping God. The Sentinelese will be part of that gathering around the throne of God. That is what we need to ultimately look towards and give thanks to God for John’s life and the countless others who have followed in the steps of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Many like John who ventured out into hostile territories and among resistant people groups especially in pioneering missions, didn’t see much fruit in their lifetime let alone in decades afterwards. But the Lord does his work, beyond the limited purview of man and mission history is testament to this fact.
Count the Cost
Repeatedly Jesus would remind his followers in the Gospels about the importance of counting the cost. No one would undertake a massive venture without counting the cost. Similarly, no one would follow Christ, unless he or she understands that there is a cost to be borne and that may even be at the cost of one’s own life. Coming to the realisation that Jesus matters much more than familial relationships, earthly connections and material longings is pivotal for every authentic follower of Christ.
Step out in Faith
A true disciple of Christ is one who has not only counted the cost but also stepped out in bold faith. It is such deeply committed disciples that God wants to use and it is in and through them that He works for the sake of His glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom. Those who sit on the fringes and applaud or criticise others are of no use to the Master. The Master needs people who give of themselves, their resources, abilities, talents and gifts for His use.
Trust and Obey
Ultimately, it is all about trusting God and being obedient to His calling upon our lives. Everyone may not be a martyr, but we all need to die to self so that we can live for Christ. It is in him, that we find our greatest joy and satisfaction. Nothing else matters from eternity’s perspective. When we entrust our lives to God, in total trust and obedience, we can truly make an impact in the lives of our family, nation and the world at large.
John’s life may appear to be wasted and snuffed out prematurely, but in God’s economy a life is never wasted. John joins a long line of heroes of faith who will hear the applause of heaven and the words of God saying ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come and enter into my rest’. What God calls us all to is to partner with him as He brings about His grand redemptive purposes for a world of lost sinners. So let’s just do that. All Glory to God.