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Another harsh assessment of John Chau’s mission

Lyman Stone wrote an essay for The Federalist last week criticizing John Chau as an unprepared adventurist who recklessly threw his life away trying to reach the Sentinelese people with the gospel. Among other things, Stone writes:

Chau was killed while serving as a missionary. But he was not killed on account of the gospel. He was killed on account of his unpreparedness. This may seem a harsh assessment, especially so soon after his death, but for the protection of the church’s mission, it must be said.

It is vital that we understand what went wrong with Chau’s mission, and what it says about mission work today…

He recklessly endangered himself for a project he wasn’t qualified for, and in the process endangered others.

Stone’s article is one of the harshest critiques I’ve read of John Chau—which is jarring to see coming from a fellow Christian. Stone criticizes Chau for being “unprepared,” but I think Stone is the one who is unprepared even to write this critique. He builds his case on several errors related to Chau’s training and preparation. I will mention just a few.

Stone writes, “It appears he had learned about Sentinel Island on a previous adventure-tourism-evangelism trip to India.” Wrong. Chau had felt called to the Sentinelese since he was 18-years old. The New York Times and other news outlets have reported that Chau initially learned about the Sentinelese online, and his call developed from there.

Stone accuses Chau of being “a 27-year-old adventure junkie with… very little formal training” Wrong. Christianity Today reports that Chau had been preparing for many years to reach the Sentinelese people and had been doing so long before he joined the All Nations missionary group. Chau had received training from SIL in cultural anthropology and linguistics (SIL is the gold standard for missionary linguistics).

Stone claims that Chau had “no plan for long-term involvement in the culture.” Again, wrong. Really wrong. According to Christianity Today, the point of Chau’s initial contact was the hope of establishing a long term relationship with the people so that he could learn their language and bring the gospel to the people. Someone needed to make initial contact, and Chau prayed to be the one to do it in hopes of a longer term relationship with the people. Chau was prepared to be there among the Sentinelese for many years.

There are many more errors in this piece that could have been cleared up just by reading the available reporting on Chau’s mission, especially CT’s interview with Mary Ho, executive leader of All Nations.

As I’ve said before, mission strategy is a legitimate item for debate and reconsideration. Nevertheless, John Chau died trying to reach the Sentinelese people with the gospel. We owe him more than erroneous criticism based on caricatures of his training and preparation.

Mission agency clears away some false assumptions about John Chau’s missionary work

I’ve been dismayed this week by the amount of criticism aimed at John Chau’s mission to the Sentinelese, not because his mission is above criticism but because critics seem to be operating on assumptions rather than on facts. My question has been how so many people feel that they have the requisite information to weigh-in definitively on the strategy that John Chau was pursuing. It may be that what we have read in news reports is all that there is to know about his strategy. Or it may be that there is more to the story that we haven’t heard yet.

It turns out that there is a lot that we haven’t heard yet. In an interview with Christianity Today, the director of John Chau’s mission agency gave quite a bit of information that would suggest that many of Chau’s critics have jumped the gun. Mary Ho is the international executive leader of the All Nations missionary group that sent John Chau to the Sentinelese. Among other things, she clarifies a number of questions that have been raised about Chau’s mission in recent days: Continue Reading →

Be careful about making snap judgements about John Chau’s mission

Missionary John Chau was killed only ten days ago, and yet there has been no shortage of Christians publicly criticizing the strategy he employed in order to reach the Sentinelese people with the gospel. I just read another such article today, this time in Religion News Service.

I have said before and will say again that mission strategy should be open for debate and reconsideration. Jesus himself taught us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves in the midst of our mission (Matt. 10:16). I do not question the wisdom or the necessity of such conversations—although it does seem a little strange to hear Christians so quick to criticize a man who lost his life trying to spread the gospel. In any case, we can all agree that such conversations are necessary and right at some point. Continue Reading →

Slain missionary John Chau’s mission is not white colonialism; it’s the great commission.

Last night, I read the news of missionary John Chau’s death. He was killed last week by the very people he was trying to reach with the gospel. He knew the risks, and he went anyway. There are several items from Chau’s letters and journal that have pierced me to the soul, perhaps this one most of all:

“God, I don’t want to die. WHO WILL TAKE MY PLACE IF I DO?”

There is a common thread that runs through the voice of the martyrs going all the way back to Jesus. Here is a small sample. See if you can detect the common element. Continue Reading →

Masculinity at the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California

ABC News reports on female survivors of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California. In the video above, you will see one woman describe what heroic young men did at the critical moment. She describes it this way:

There were multiple men that got on their knees and pretty much blocked all of us with their back towards the shooter, ready to take a bullet for any single one of us.

Abigail Shrier of The Wall Street Journal also writes about the men who helped others to safety during those terrifying and chaotic moments. She attributes their heroism to “masculinity.” She writes:

This is the masculinity we so often hear denigrated. It takes as its duty the physical protection of others, especially women. This masculinity doesn’t wait for verbal consent or invitation to push a person out of harm’s way. It sends hundreds of firefighters racing up the Twin Towers to save people they’ve never met. And it sent Sgt. Ron Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office rushing into Borderline Bar and Grill, where the shooter was waiting for him. “I gotta go handle a call,” Helus had just told his wife over the phone. “I love you.”

The way so many women have a natural ease with caring for children, so, too, do many men have the instinct to protect and serve. We can harness it, but it doesn’t proceed automatically. It is a refined sort of masculinity that must be developed and praised. The military has done this for years. Police academies and fire departments do too. Only the educated classes have learned to sneer at it. Would that they never need it.

This is the kind of masculinity we can all get behind. Read the rest here.

“So be strong, act like a man.” –1 Kings 2:2

“Act like men, be strong.” –1 Cor. 16:13

Pediatricians say spanking is bad. Are they right?

The American Academy of Pediatricians argues in a new policy statement that spanking is bad for children (see video above). NBC News describes the report this way:

Parents who hit their kids may believe that a swat “just gets their attention” or imposes old-fashioned discipline, but spanking in fact makes behavior worse than it was before and can cause long-term harm, pediatricians said Monday. Continue Reading →

Fact-checking the paper of record on its fabulist claims about transgenderism

I have marveled this week at the level of distortion in straight news reporting about transgenderism. It all started with a report in The New York Times about the Trump administration’s plans to reverse an Obama-era directive. The distortion starts in the very first sentence of the report:

The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

Let’s just fact-check this one sentence. How many claims are in error here? All of them. Continue Reading →

Transgender bathroom policy leads to sexual assault of 5-year old girl

From WORLD magazine:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced last month it was investigating a parental complaint alleging a Georgia school district’s transgender policy led to the sexual assault of a kindergartener.

City Schools of Decatur parent Pascha Thomas claims her daughter, known by the initials N.T. in public documents, was sexually assaulted last year by a male classmate in an Oakhurst Elementary School girls’ restroom. Thomas said her 5-year-old daughter complained of vaginal pain the evening of Nov. 16, 2017. When Thomas asked more, the girl said she was leaving a restroom stall when a little boy in her class came in, pinned her against the stall, and groped her genitals with his hands. She said she tried to get away and called for help, but no one came.

When Thomas reported the assault to school officials the next morning, they responded with “deliberate indifference” toward the assault and the victim, according to the complaint. Despite Thomas’ efforts to ensure justice for her daughter over the following weeks, she said, the school failed to conduct a meaningful investigation, discipline the alleged assailant, remove the child from N.T.’s class or ensure he would not use the girl’s restroom again, or offer any assurance of protection or psychological counseling for N.T.

At a meeting in December, the school informed Thomas the boy identified as “gender fluid” and was allowed to use the girls’ restroom per a districtwide policy opening restrooms and locker rooms to students based on their gender identity.

Watch the video testimony from the child’s mother above.

What the Kavanaugh Conflagration Was Really About

I walked into Senator Mitch McConnell’s office three weeks ago on a Friday. I take my interns to DC every year for a conference, and I always walk over to the leader’s office on Friday morning to pick up House and Senate gallery passes. The Kavanaugh hearings were over (or so everyone thought), and the office was virtually empty except for two staffers, both of whom were from Lexington. So we chit-chatted about Kentucky. As I was about to leave, one of them said giddily, “We will have a confirmation vote for a new Supreme Court justice on Thursday!” Continue Reading →

Senator Ben Sasse on #MeToo and Kavanaugh Nomination

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska delivered a powerful speech on the floor of the United States Senate yesterday. It is not a partisan diatribe. It is the thoughtful reflection of a statesman who sees the big picture.

Senator Sasse acknowledges that we have witnessed some disgraceful moments over the last two weeks in the Senate Judiciary Committee. There have been ugly smears and worse. But Senator Sasse doesn’t get into all that in this speech. He is simply making an important point about what the coming vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination means. He rejects the premise that the vote is about whether or not we care about women and abuse: Continue Reading →

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