“He was not scared – just sad”. Feby Chan opens up about her husband Andrew’s execution.
It was two years ago now that Australian Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in Bali's Kerobokan Prison on drug-trafficking charges.
On April 28, 2015, the eve of that fateful day, death staring him in the face, Andrew stood in a chapel and married the young Javanese woman who had helped him with his prison ministry and with whom he had, in the process, fallen in love.
Feby Chan spoke to journalist Simone Worthing about her pain and heartbreak, and how she manages to go on after a tragedy stole the man she loved.
On how she met Andrew:
After spending time in Singapore, I returned to Indonesia at the end of 2011. My best friend Linda and I prayed for three days and God spoke to us about Bali and prison ministry.
I went to Bali and started a prison ministry there. I had no experience and I didn't want to go to the prisons, but I felt God wanted me to go.
A friend asked me to go and visit a friend of his in prison – Andrew Chan, who wanted to start a prayer room in the prison.
Andrew was already a leader, a pastor, in prison and I started as a partner in this and we encouraged each other. He had his own struggles. He always tried to live according to biblical values in prison, which was not easy. I would just encourage him to stay strong, despite what he saw around him. We supported each other, picked each other up. He gave me insight into things. We were really good friends – best friends.
On Andrew's faith in the face of execution:
Andrew stayed calm no matter what. It doesn't mean he wasn't sad, but he learned from day one to put his faith and trust in Jesus. That is what really affected me then, and still does now. It's hard to believe that when he knew he was going to be executed he was not scared – just sad.
He wanted to get married. Have kids. Make his parents happy. He was so sad knowing he would not be able to enjoy this. That was the saddest thing when it came to our last moment before the execution. He was just so sad to leave me and was begging God for the chance to have a family with me. But he trusted God and knew He was his only hope.
On the moments before he was killed:
When it was announced that 72 hours remained until execution, I chose to trust God, knowing only God could save Andrew. I never thought that he would be executed. Only on the last day, when I had to say goodbye, did I start to think about what would happen if he really were executed.
That moment, when I allowed my heart and mind to cross that path, that was hard, because it affected my faith. I couldn't understand what God wanted from me. It was like a bomb to my life and I was shaken to the core of the foundations of my faith.
I couldn't accept the word of God for some time. I only knew that God would never leave me. My heart opened and I could see the big picture again. Slowly, and even though I will never fully understand, I am learning to trust in God's perfect plan for my life, just like Andrew did.
On learning to forgive:
I know that forgiveness is not about feelings, it's about decisions. Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, "hate is too great a burden to bear". And that's why I choose forgiveness.
That is also one of Andrew's legacies. He spent 10 years in prison, facing people who lied and betrayed him every single day. Andrew decided not to be bitter, but to forgive. And that's why he had a full and complete life in the prison hell. And so I choose the same thing. It's the only way I can have a full and joyful life.
On continuing to love life through the pain and heartache:
The beauty of life is to see God unwrap things – it's so beautiful when all the pieces of the puzzle come together. I'm waiting for this. It's the only thing keeping me alive. God always has a purpose and a plan, and I am enjoying seeing that come together. •
Used with permission. This article first appeared in Pipeline and Warcry.