The Vancouver, Wash. man who died last week trying to evangelize to an isolated native tribe living on an island off the coast of India wrote his family a handwritten letter explaining his motivations.
"You guys might think I'm crazy in all this," he wrote to his parents. "But I think it's worth it to declare Jesus to these people."
Police in India have released the last letter by John Allen Chau, 27, an avid hiker, nonprofit director and Christian missionary who ventured onto North Sentinel Island last week and was killed, probably with a bow and arrow. A report by the New York Times today suggests Chau's efforts to contact the isolated tribe came without support from any organized religious organization.
The Times report offers greater detail on Chau's last days, and suggests he was killed by bow and arrow on Nov. 16, the day he paddled to the island.
Chau's unlikely quest and his subsequent death have inspired fierce debate worldwide over religious zeal and the legacy of colonialism.
Contact with the Sentinelese people is strictly forbidden by the Indian government. The tribe has rarely had contact with the wider world, and experts fear their immune systems could not handle microbes introduced by outsiders. The fishermen who assisted Chau in visiting the island are reportedly under arrest.
That didn't discourage Chau, who in a 13-page journal said he had tried to make contact previously, by paddling to the island in a kayak.
"Two armed Sentinelese came rushing out yelling," he wrote in the letter. "They had two arrows each, unstrung, until they got closer. I hollered, 'My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you.'"
He told his parents not to blame the tribe if they killed him. "Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed," he wrote. "I love you all."
Chau's parents released a statement on his Instagram page, asking for the people who helped their son on his fatal journey be released from police custody. "He ventured out on his own free will," they write, "and his local contacts need not be persecuted for his own actions."
His body is still on the island, and authorities are not sure how to safely recover it.