John Chau, Missions, and Spreading Disease: What Do We Really Know?

hey13 (Posted by) Level 4
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Following the attempt of missionary John Allen Chau to share the gospel with the Sentinelese, an uncontacted tribe located on the North Sentinal Island, there has been much talk about the health risk such an endeavor poses for the Sentinelese. Many are chiming in to the conversation, and it seems like everyone in the world is now a disease transmission expert.

I’m not.

Disease - Concern - Madhumala - Chattopadhyay - Engagement

As so much is being discussed about disease, it is worth noting that this same concern is often absent when reporting on Madhumala Chattopadhyay (or other) engagement with North Sentinelese in the 1990s. Look at the stories about her in Google news and then determine how many mention the health dangers of her presence.

Perhaps the nature of the contact – anthopoligical study being more acceptable than mission engagemnet – is what offends.

Illnesses - Issue - Approves - Anthropologists - Disappoves

However, the illnesses are still an issue, regardless of whether one approves of anthropologists and disappoves of missionaries, so I decided to ask two scholars who know much more than I do.

Dr. Kristen Page is a Professor of Biology and holds the Ruth Kraft Strohschein Distinguished Chair at Wheaton College. She has a Ph.D. from Purdue University. She is a member of the American Society of Parasitologists, the Society of Mammologists, and she an affiliate of the Wildlife Disease Association. Her research focuses on disease transmission dynamics.

Dr - Vanya - Koo - Associate - Professor

Dr. Vanya Koo is an Associate Professor of Biology at Wheaton College. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Washington and she has a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Microbiology and Immunology with both Northwestern University and Weill Cornell Medical College. She is also an affiliate of the American Society of Microbiology. Her studies focus on the regulation of gene expression in bacteria.

I wanted to learn more to help inform the conversation, though we still need more information about what Chau did or...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer
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