Feby was leading a significant prayer ministry at her church in Yogyakarta, about 430 kms east of Jakarta in Indonesia when she received an email from a friend who wondered if she could help set up a prayer ministry at the infamous Bali’s Kerobokan Prison. A prison built to hold 300 prisoners, it’s normal to find 1400 prisoners at any one time. The request for this ministry had actually come from one of the prison inmates, Andrew Chan. He was one of nine Australians convicted of attempting to smuggle $4 million worth of heroin out of Indonesia.
Her friend’s tenacity paid off and Feby decided to explore this opportunity further. It’s the first prison she has ever visited. When she met Andrew in 2012, he had been in prison for six years already. While in solitary confinement, he read the New Testament several times before giving his life over to God. He began leading worship services in the prison and even undertook theological studies before being ordained in 2015. Feby travelled to Bali a few more times to set up a prayer ministry in five other prisons. It wasn’t long before she began to fall in love with him. She felt as if God had sent her to him. “Talking with Andrew about his life and his faith encouraged me so much those months in late 2012”.
In 2012, Andrew’s lawyers appealed to Indonesia’s president for clemency after his initial appeals were rejected by the Indonesian’s Supreme Court. He was left off the execution list for 2013 and given a glimmer of hope. During this time, Feby said, pastors from Indonesia and Australia contacted her, offering their support and prayer. Millions of people were praying for Andrew and she was convinced with that much prayer, Andrew would surely be freed. “I had seen so many miracles! I expected a miracle, and I was sure it would be Andrew’s freedom”.
However, 10 days after his 31st birthday in January 2015, his plea for presidential clemency was rejected and on the 25th April, 2015, Andrew received formal notification that he would be executed. A 72-hour countdown had been announced. Feby was crushed but still she had hoped for a miracle. The next day, Andrew asked her to marry him in prison. The next day, David, a Salvation Army ministry, a close friend of Andrew’s married them.
Just 35 hours later at 1am on the 30th April, Andrew was executed by firing squad. Feby felt numb and struggled with her anger at God for a long time. How could God not answer the millions of prayers offered for Andrew? Why would he want her to suffer? “I had this image of a God who not would allow someone to go through such pain. And I now know that was the wrong mindset…After what happened to Andrew…I began to understand that being a Christian didn’t mean that bad things would not happen to me, but that when they did God would be with me. And he can use my pain and my difficulty in those dark hours to help other people”.
It has been over six years since Andrew’s execution. Feby still believes in miracles. She has had plenty of time to reflect about her time with Andrew. Why me God? Why did you send me to Bali? “I believe God sent me to Andrew to be with him and prepare him for what was to come. I believe I was there to walk him home”.
A great story following last week’s message on miracles. Much to glean from.
(Adapted from article, “How God rebuilt Feby Chan’s faith after her husband was executed by firing squad?” in Eternity Magazine, June 2021).