Listen: Simon Smart from CPX talks about Andrew Chan’s faith. Above: Vigil candles by #KeepHopeAlive Supporter, Sharni Catori Fernando, Facebook.
People of faith are being urged by Christian leaders to continue praying for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, as they face the firing squad tonight.
The ‘Bali Two’, to be executed at midnight for their part in the 2005 ‘Bali Nine’ drug smuggling crime, will be alone at the end after today being denied the right to have their spiritual advisors with them in the final hours.
Salvation Army Commissioner James Condon wrote today, “with a heavy heart”, that he wanted believers to pray “that their lives will be spared to serve a higher purpose”. He also asked for prayers for Major David Soper, the Salvation Army minister Andrew Chan chose as his final ‘spiritual adviser’.
“Your fervent prayer support for Myuran, Andrew and David is very much needed at this hour.”
Also needing of prayer support is Christie Buckingham, minister of the Pentecostal-style Bayside Church in Melbourne, who is Sukumaran’s chosen spiritual support for his last day. She and husband Rob travelled to be with Sukumaran and his family for his final hours today.
Mrs Buckingham, who has been visiting Chan and Sukumaran for years now, told Fairfax media in January that she had “never seen people so totally reformed.” She described Chan as “naturally talkative” and “jovial”, and Sukumaran as a quiet, deep-thinking “gentle giant”.
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Hope Despite the Tragic Loss of Life
Christian leaders are shining a light on the good that can be found in the pair’s painful journey.
Directors of the Centre for Public Christianity, Simon Smart and John Dickson, spoke to Hope Media today about the theme of hope in dark times.
“We’re all so disturbed by what’s happening to those two,” Mr Dickson said, “and yet, at least in the case of Andrew Chan, there’s a faith story to be told. He’s come to have a very firm faith.
“Any death story forces you to think about the most important things, it concentrates the mind.
“It would just be wonderful if more people would on the one hand think about the most important things in life, but [also] hear the story of Andrew Chan in a way that will hopefully open up more possibilities to talk about Christ.”
Andrew Chan’s Faith Has Brought Great Peace
Simon Smart said Andrew Chan, who has been photographed singing worship songs and baptising fellow prisoners, was an example of how faith can bring great peace despite mortality.
“He’s spoken about the peace he has felt and the hope this [faith] has given him,” Mr Smart said.
“There’s a sense that the change he’s been able to bring to his own life has been a blessing to others, and could continue to be that after his death.
“He also carries with him the hopes of many others who’ve gone in similar ways – that even though they’re losing their life, they’re going home, or being ushered into life.”
“There’s a sense that the change in his life has been a blessing to others, and could continue to be that after his death.”
Mr Smart recalled the words of the famous Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was imprisoned and executed by the Nazis at the age of 39 during World War II: “He said, as he was led off to the gallows, that ‘this is the end but for me it’s the beginning of life’.”
“I do think that these guys, and especially Andrew Chan, has this sense that he doesn’t want to die… but that if he goes to his death, he feels like because of his relationship with Jesus that he’s going to be ushered into a new life,” said Mr Smart.
“That’s enormous, it’s a big hope”.
Prisoners’ Last Messages On Artwork
Photos were posted by news websites late today, of Sukumaran’s last painting. It is in image of a blood-covered, red heart, and is signed on the back by the artist and his eight fellow prisoners who also face execution.
Signatures and comments reveal a number of prisoners with obvious Christian faith.
“Jesus always love us until the eternal life. Mary Jane. Keep smiling,” wrote the Filipino woman of the group, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso.
And Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise of Nigeria wrote: “Am covered with the blood of Jesus Christ.”
- Pastor Rob Buckingham’s opinion piece on capital punishment, “Why The Death Penalty Is Wrong”