NEWS | Kaley Payne
Friday 8 May 2015
At Andrew Chan’s final farewell, his friends, family and Andrew himself wanted people to know about Jesus.
“He is with his maker!” declared Major David Soper, a long-time friend and neighbour of the Chan family. Andrew elected Major Soper as his spiritual advisor in the last few hours of his life.
Major Soper led today’s memorial service, held at the Hillsong Church centre in Baulkham Hills. Well over 1,000 people attended, walking past a line up of TV crews to make it into the service. Inside, Major Soper spoke of the last minutes he spent with Andrew.
“In those last precious few minutes of Andrew’s life, I stood before him. I was overwhelmed with my love for him and devastated by the tragic waste. I prayed like I’d never prayed before. I placed my hand upon his heart, and I thanked God. I thanked him because Andrew knew the truth. He was prepared to meet his maker. I saw great courage and strength. I saw peace and assurance. I saw radiant beauty and joy. I will never, never forget.”
“There’s only one person that I can turn to at a time like this,” said Major Soper, clearly emotional. “The maker of heaven and earth,” and he read from Psalm 1:21. The crowd sang “Blessed be your name”, “Mighty to Save” and “Amazing Grace”.
Andrew’s brother Michael told the crowd that Andrew’s life served as a testimony that “people deserve second chances in life.”
“Andrew showed us that even with a heavy burden over his head … people can still change,” he said. He pleaded that people remember the “real Andrew Chan” and said he’d made his family proud by the way he left the world.
Ending his tribute, Michael said that one last quote from Andrew would be, “Guys, let’s pray about this.” A laugh from the front of the crowd suggested it was a familiar phrase that Andrew’s friends had heard before.
Other tributes came from several of Andrew’s friends who he had met while going to church in Kerobokan prison in Indonesia. Miranda Riddington, a pastor at Increase Church on NSW’s central coast first met Andrew in Kerobokan when she first visited ten years ago. Some might ask, she said, “How could a prisoner be a pastor?”
“God has always chosen the most unlikely people to help bring about his plan. And Andrew was chosen by God,” she said, listing the ways in which Andrew served the church in the prison and started an English-speaking service.
“Andrew did everything – from leading worship, to preaching, to taking up the offertory. He sang loud and he sang strong.”
Pastor Mark Soper from the Salvation Army, son of Major Soper and one of Andrew’s closest friends, brought the main message of the day, saying that in speaking to Andrew about what would be said at his memorial, “he wanted us to talk about the God who transformed his life.”
“Andrew was not a Salvo, Baptist, Anglican or Catholic. He was simply a follower of Jesus,” said Mr Soper.
“Andrew’s message is this: know you’re loved. Know that you have already been forgiven. But will you claim that forgiveness for yourself? Know that God, the creator of the universe, has instilled in us a desire for our life to be full of meaning and purpose. That is God-given. If you want to discover meaning and purpose in your life, then as Andrew would say: find Jesus.”
Before his execution, Chan wrote his own eulogy, which Mr Soper read out today.
“My last moments here on earth, I sang out hallelujah,” he wrote.
“I ran a good race. I fought the good fight and came out a winner, in God’s eyes.”
Andrew’s new wife Febyanti Herewila-Chan finished by addressing the crowd before they sang Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons, the song Andrew led his fellow death row inmates in singing in the final moments before they were executed.
“Today, even me, I have a lot of questions. Millions of people prayed for him. We believe in miracles… Why did so many people pray and we didn’t see a miracle?” said Ms Herewila-Chan.
“But at the end, I realised it happened. Today you might ask questions: where did he get the courage? How could someone be so strong and say ‘forgive them’, while they’re walking to that field? They said ‘Bless Indonesia, Bless Indonesia, Bless Indonesia’. How can someone have that courage? And face death with his own eyes?
“Today I want to share this… Andrew managed to end it well. Andrew managed to bless people. Andrew managed to forgive those who hurt him. It’s only because of Jesus. It’s only because of Jesus. If you want to have the same courage, if you want to have the same peace, if you want to end it well like him – it’s only true with Jesus.
“It’s hard for me to understand. But I believe God always has a better plan.”