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ORU remembers John Chau

The well-known words written across Christ Chapel remained with John Chau, an ORU alumnus, and brought him to the true uttermost bounds of the earth.

“Smoky skies from the wildfires in B.C. made for a pretty fun trip.” – John Chau in the North Cascades National Park, August 2017, via Facebook

On Nov. 17, Chau stepped onto the shore of the North Sentinel Island and received a fatal attack at the hand of a remote tribe. The tribe, known as the Sentinelese Tribe, lives on the North Sentinel Island located in the Indian Ocean. The 26-year-old missionary reportedly sought to live among the people, assimilate into the culture and share the gospel.       

Chau previously visited the island two or three times by canoe, making contact with the tribe, according to Dependra Pathak, head of police in Andaman and Nicobar. The attempt at contact surfaced on all major news platforms, making the ORU alumnus a globally-known man.

Many of Chau’s family and friends believe his endeavors will reach beyond his short life.   

“He was simply willing to commit his whole life, if necessary, so these precious people could know the love of Jesus Christ,” said ORU President William Wilson. “Our prayers continue for John’s family and friends during this time of loss.”

John Chau ran cross country track for ORU in 2011. | Photo provided by Shawna Dial

Chau received his bachelor’s degree in Health and Exercise Science from ORU in 2014, graduating with cum laude honors. While at ORU, he had the opportunity of joining ORU Missions to Cape Town, South Africa as a team member in 2012 and again in 2014 as the team leader. From 2013 to 2014, Chau served on the ORU Missions and Outreach staff as an outreach coordinator. Chau also helped organize charity soccer events reaching to Tulsa, Northern Iraq and South Africa.

Following his time at ORU, Chau became a missionary with All Nations, receiving specific mission training, healthcare training and coaching. Chau had received proper vaccinations and quarantined himself before approaching the island, according to Dr. Pam Arlund, a member of the International Leadership Team with All Nations.

“John fell in love with  people that he never met and he loved them even at the moment they were attacking and killing him,” Dr. Arlund told J.D. Payne, the overseer of Strike the Match, a Christian-based podcast. 

Chau continued to work with ORU Missions and Outreach after graduation by returning as a ropes coordinator to help train the mission teams. Jonathan Hyre, an ORU alumnus, had grown close with Chau during their time working in the ORU Missions and Outreach office together. Hyre and others close to Chau remember the passion and humility within him and admire the one who was John Chau. 

“John Chau was both the most passionate and courageous man I’ve ever met, as well as the most tender-hearted servant I ever came across during my time at ORU,” said Hyre. “John served and operated with consistent humility. I am honored to have known him and called him friend.”

“Headed up Depot Creek to the north side of Mount Redoubt to check out Ouzel Lake and Silver Lake while I was in B.C. for the summer.” – John Chau via Facebook

Jacob Lanferman, a senior majoring in global environmental sustainability, shared a dorm room with Chau, who was a facilitator, during the ORU Missions and Outreach Ropes week for 2018 summer missions. The two immediately clicked with their similar hearts for adventure, mountain climbing and missions.

Lanferman and Chau solidified a close friendship while sharing their passions for the unreached people of the world, wherein Chau detailed his call to Sentinel, Andaman. Lanferman, also feeling called to India, received advice from Chau about strategy, logistics and training when going into the mission field of South Asia. 

“He poured into me as a student going through Ropes as a fellow facilitator,” said Lanferman. “He has been a huge inspiration to me. I was praying for him and getting updates from him every step of the way. He’s always been a spiritual giant to me and role model even before his death, and now even more so.”