2003

ESSAY CONTEST
for HSLDA members
Second HSLDA Essay Contest
Category 2 Fifth Place

To Take the Gospel to the Sentinelese

By Shelley Boyd

If I could choose any one place on earth to visit for two weeks, I know without hesitation where I would go. Far from our comfortable American homes, in the distant Bay of Bengal, are situated India's Andaman and Nicobar islands. Although some of the islands boast popular resorts, none of these would be my destination. My goal instead would be an island which no tourist dares approach. Small, isolated, and formidably dangerous, this island is nevertheless inhabited by human beings made in the image of God, yet who have never even heard His Name. And their souls are of more worth to Him than any other object men might seek.

I first heard of the island while attending a homeschool co-op class. Our teacher told the almost unbelievable story of how, even in our modem society, there still exists one place on earth whose primitive inhabitants are cut off from the rest of the world. All those attempting to approach this lonely isle have been driven back by a hail of deadly arrows, which have wounded some and claimed the lives of others. The story struck me with the realization that here is a group much like the Aucas formerly were, at least in their complete isolation and their belligerence-truly, an unreached people. In that hour God put a burden on my heart for these islanders.

Back home later that day, I searched the Internet for information about this mysterious island. Slowly, facts trickled in. It is known as North Sentinel Island, and the natives who live there are called the Sentinelese. Estimates of the island's population vary from 80 people to as many as 250. Up to 250 individuals who have never heard of the Savior! There were only 56 Aucas in the group to which Elizabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint had been privileged to take the Good News. But the Sentinelese have no way to hear the Gospel. Who would dare go to them? They are described as "fierce," "aggressive," "hostile," "violent," and "war-like." No one would intentionally enter such deadly danger.

For a long time I have greatly desired to lead souls to the Lord. I dreamed one night about sharing Christ with several unbelievers, and ever since I have longed to meet people who have never heard of Jesus, and to be His instrument in their salvation. So when I learned that the Sentinelese are purportedly now the only group on earth who are completely isolated from the outside world, and therefore from the Gospel, my heart thrilled at the thought of going to them. But even if the animosity of the islanders were not enough to preclude that possibility, the Indian government patrols the island by air to prevent anyone approaching it. So I contented myself with praying for the Sentinelese. Yet if I were truly to have the opportunity to spend an entire two weeks on the island, what progress might be made in such a sacred cause! It is true that there would be many difficulties. Not the least of these would be the language barrier, since two weeks is insufficient time to learn even the rudiments of a wholly new language. If, however, I were to learn beforehand the languages of any neighboring tribes, and if the language spoken by the Sentinelese were similar, f might be able to impart to them the basic truths of the Gospel. But even if I myself were to fail, would I not open the door for other missionaries? Jim Elliot and his four companions were unable to communicate the message of salvation to the Aucas, but they prepared the way for others. And thus might I also do with the Sentinelese.

So my choice of destination would be forbidding little North Sentinel Island. True, an island inhabited by hostile savages is not a comfortable location at which to spend two weeks. But it would be a fulfilling place to go, because watching the power of God at work in people's lives gives truer satisfaction than any of the world's pursuits. And it is certain that God desires to work in the lives of the Sentinelese. May they one day bring Him glory!