Andrew Chan (right) and Myuran Sukumaran talk to their lawyer.
Andrew Chan (right) and Myuran Sukumaran talk to their lawyer.

You can pray.  His testimony has gone global.


It was an occasion to mark a milestone in a life of crime and redemption, of selfishness transformed to selflessness, and one celebrated in the most difficult circumstances imaginable. In the chapel in Kerobokan prison recently, a small group of family and pastors gathered for the ordination of Andrew Chan, former heroin smuggling “ringleader”, as a Christian minister. After six years of study, and even more time tending to the drug addicted and damaged, Chan’s ordination took place just days after he received an official letter confirming his plea for clemency had been rejected by Indonesian president Joko Widodo.

“It was a very difficult time for him,” says Christie Buckingham, a senior pastor with the Bayside Church in Melbourne. “It was a sober, sacred and very quiet moment.” Rev Buckingham had come to Bali with a letter of accreditation formally recognising Chan as a Christian minister in Australia. It was awarded after an exhaustive process of study, practical work and, the endorsement of five senior ministers from different denominations. A group of Indonesian pastors also joined the ceremony in the chapel, where Chan has played a leading role in services for years, belting out hymns and songs of praise with his trademark bellowing voice.

Those present prayed as Chan was handed his certificate, a new Bible and an excerpt from the Second Epistle to Timothy to “Preach the Word in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” Buckingham said “Andrew and his mother held it and each other and I turned my back to give them some privacy, as did the others. They were deeply moved,” she recounts. “He has wanted to become a pastor since the moment he began his transformation. His faith is his life and no half measures would work for him.”

Buckingham went on “He wants to do his best and be his best – not for himself but as part of the responsibility he feels towards others.” Several current and former inmates of Kerobokan have offered to replace Chan and face the firing squad, such is the depth of feeling for his work running drug counselling courses and comforting the sick. Michael Chan said his brother’s ordination was a subject of immense pride for the family, especially his parents, who have converted to Christianity. “With all the bad news that’s happening, it was really uplifting,” he said.

Rev Buckingham said his coursework was demanding and his elevation to the ministry difficult to achieve. “Andrew is extraordinary with such a determination to learn, in fact almost a desperation,” she said. “He is the real deal, and Myuran Sukumaran is as well.” “Both men are living proof that people can change. Indonesia should be proud of the impact they are having. Those making the decisions should actually meet these men and look into their eyes, see the work they have done and what their system can produce. We continue to pray for them. Where there is life, there is hope.” Buckingham said.

Andrew Chan’s testimony was written in 2013 and published by ‘Leading The Way’, an International Evangelism Organisation. It read:  I found myself in Kerobokan Prison. At first I thought it was no big deal, ‘I’ll get outta this’. It wasn’t until I ended up in solitary confinement that I realised I wasn’t going to get outta this. In fact, I figured they were gonna kill me. I had never felt so hopeless and alone before, and decided that if they were going to kill me anyway, I’d just do it myself. I took my t-shirt off and made a noose, and then remembered the Heaven/Hell issue, and decided that if I was gonna kill myself I should make sure I ended up in Heaven.

I wasn’t sure how to do that, but figured I should pray. I wasn’t sure how to do that either, so I looked up and just said, ‘God, if You’re real, and for the first time in my life I began to cry and ended up on my knees. I said, ‘God if you’re real, send someone who cares about me to see me.’ I fell asleep like that. At 6.30 the next morning a guard woke me. He said ‘Get up, you’ve got a visitor.’  He took me to the visitor area and I saw my brother. I thought, my Mum must have seen this on the news and sent my brother to see about me, because I knew my brother wouldn’t just come – we don’t like each other. We get along like cats and dogs.

When I got to him, he said, ‘Andrew, no matter what happens or how long it takes, I’m gonna be here with you.’ I told him to bring me a Bible. I started in Genesis when I got it but I got nothing out of it. Someone else came to visit me who was a Christian, and I told him I was reading the Bible but didn’t get much out of it, and he told me to read the New Testament. I didn’t even know what that was and told him I didn’t have one. He had to explain to me that it was a part of the Bible, and told me to start reading the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I read through the New Testament a couple of times, but didn’t really notice any change. I just didn’t get it.

Just before my court date, I remember reading Mark 11.23,24, where it says that if you have enough faith you can say to this mountain, ‘Be removed’ and God will do it. So I said, ‘God, if You’re real and if this is true, I want You to free me, and if You do I’ll serve You every day for the rest of my life.’ I went to my court hearing and they convicted me and gave me the death penalty. When I got back to my cell, I said, ‘God, I asked You to set me free, not kill me.’ God spoke to me and said, ‘Andrew, I have set you free from the inside out, I have given you life!’

From that moment on I haven’t stopped worshipping Him. I had never sung before, never led worship, until Jesus set me free.’ My last appeal is on the President’s desk for review. If he doesn’t grant it, I’ll be executed. It’s not that I fear death, but I promised Him I’d serve Him for the rest of my life, and I feel I have more things to do. So if you want to pray, you could pray that I’ll be released.’

Source: Compiled by APN from various sources

Australian Prayer Network, April 8, 2015

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