I was teaching a class on missions at my Thai Bible school when on November 17th news came of the death of John Chau, a missionary who was seeking to reach the Sentinelese tribe in the Andaman islands. My students had a number of questions concerning Chau’s death and his decision to contact this tribe. Many have commented on this event, but what was highlighted for me and my class was the inherent risks that are part and parcel of most any mission endeavor. The first time this fact came “close to home” for me was in 1981, after I had been in Central Thailand only a couple of months. I got word on October 25th that an OMF worker named Koos Fietje had been martyred the night before in a neighboring province, in a village called Khao Din. Only a week before Koos’ death he had addressed a group of new missionaries with, “We should live to live and not live to exist. It is for this reason God has created us. Today I will live to glorify God … I will live each day as though it were my last. I am ready to go home at any time.” The afternoon before he left for Khao Din, he told his wife, “If anything happens to me, I’m leaving my watch and ring in this drawer.” Koos knew the risks. He knew that this next trip might be his last. Many missionaries had died in Central Thailand before Koos, but he was the first to die a martyr’s death.
Do pray that those that are reaching the Thai, both missionaries and nationals, will be willing to take calculated risks based upon the promises of God and like Paul be able to say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”