Indian police made attempts to recover the body of American missionary John Allen Chau at the Indian-owned North Sentinel island Saturday.
They reported on Sunday that they were unsuccessful.
Island Sentinelese tribesmen killed the 26-year-old on November 16 while he was attempting to make contact with them at one of the most secluded places in the world, the North Sentinel Isla, which is part of India’s Andaman Islands.
Christian Action Network President Martin Mawyer wrote an opinion piece on the situation recently, and he added that the difficult recovery effort puts an exclamation point on what he said.
“These police are armed, they have access to armored protection from the arrows, but they keep their distance and do not challenge these absolutely brutal, deadly tribesmen,” he said.
“I get it that Christians should try to reach the world with the glorious gospel of grace, but it takes preparation and knowledge. What preparation, what training went into this?”
Mawyer said that missionary efforts must be done carefully and knowledgeably, and leaving local police in a foreign country with this mess is a very poor testimony to them.
“I would add that the Indian police and others involved with this result in international circles also deserve to know the truth and see a good testimony from Christians,” Mawyer said.
“Well, going through India without a passport, smuggling a missionary to an island banned from outsiders and then creating this incident, and the added work and worry for local police, isn’t cutting it.”
According to press reports, the Indian officers spent some tense moments in a state of nervous face-off as they monitored tribesmen from a boat about 250 yards off shore from where Chau’s remains are believed to be buried.
The team spotted tribesmen through binoculars, and noted the men were armed with bows and arrows, the weapons that they are believed to have used to kill Chau, according to the region’s police chief Dependra Pathak.
the tribesmen typically attack anyone who goes to the island
Pathak added that the tribesmen stared at them as the police looked at the tribesmen. Though armed, the police calculated they would be better off withdrawing to avoid confrontation.
Fishermen who took Chau to the island for payment said he went down while he was shouting Bible phrases and Christian messages at the tribesmen, then they saw the tribe members burying the body on the beach.
According to Pathak, the tribe might hook Chau’s remains onto bamboo stakes and face the scarecrow display outwards toward the Bay of Bengal waters, as they did in 2006 to two strayed fishermen about a week after killing them.
The tribesmen typically attack anyone who goes to the island, Pathak said.
According to Mawyer the island made international news in 2004 after the Indian Ocean tsunami. A photo of an islander aiming a bow and arrow at a rescue helicopter illustrated the extreme hostility of the island tribesmen.
Pathak said his officers will continue to attempt a recovery effort while taking vigorous precautions to avoid disrupting what reports described as the pre-neolithic tribe.