Saturday 3 August 2013
Andrew Chan is in Kerobokan prison, awaiting death by firing squad. It’s the penalty he received for being one of the leaders of the Bali Nine, a drug trafficking ring made up of Australians arrested in Indonesia in 2005. But following his conversion while in solitary confinement, Andrew Chan is now a man on a mission from the Lord.
Last week, a small team from international evangelism organisation Leading The Way were granted a visit with Andrew. What transpired during our visit to his church and subsequent conversations and prayer time with him, was nothing short of remarkable.
Andrew still bears the scars from the life that led him to his current predicament, but his face provides insight into the new life he has found in Christ. His smile is infectious, his manner warm and friendly. His conversation topic: Jesus.
Currently Andrew leads the Christian church inside Kerobokan prison. From preaching to worship leading, pastoring to evangelism, he uses his days in service of the Lord. To ensure the longevity of the ministry in the prison, Andrew is training leaders to carry on the work of the Lord in Kerobokan.
We were privileged to speak with Andrew about his conversion.
“It wasn’t until I was in solitary that I felt the need to be on the right side of God,” he said. After wrestling with the New Testament, and reading it for the fourth time, Andrew finally chose to submit his life to the Lord. “I was on my knees and cried for the first time in years,” he said.
What follows is Andrew’s testimony, in his own words:
“I found myself in here. 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 cried and cried and 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 up. I woke up cursing him in my usual response, and he said ‘Get up, you’ve got a visitor.’ I said, ‘I can’t have a visitor, no one knows I’m here.’ 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 and thought ‘These are a lot of nice stories’, 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 this year. 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 I’ll be released.”
Chris Makin is from Leading the Way, an international evangelism organisation.