By: Frank Fulop 29 April 2015
For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5)
Have you ever heard people say, “Why did God let this happen?” when people have been killed through tragedy, disaster or execution?
Recently, the Holy Spirit revealed to me why some people live and some people die in these sorts of situations and I would like to share it with you.
This can be illustrated through the execution by firing squad of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia in April 2015 following their capture and imprisonment 10 years earlier for drug trafficking. They were co-ringleaders of a heroin smuggling operation from Indonesia to Australia.
In the still night air of Nusakambangan Island, condemned prisoners (Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran) sang Amazing Grace just after midnight. They also sang Bless the Lord O My Soul before their song was cut off by the crack of gunfire. (Sydney Morning Herald 30 April 2015) Through their faith, we are reminded of the Biblical account of the time when Paul and Silas were thrown into prison. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. (Acts 16:25-26) The message to the world through the story of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran is the same as that of Paul and Silas – Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31)
The Lord knew beforehand what was to happen to these two men. He allowed it to happen to serve a greater good, in order that they might be for the praise of his glory.(Ephesians 1:10-12). If Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran had not been sentenced to death but only received life sentences, how many people would have heard of their transformation through their Christian faith and witness?
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran came to know Jesus and accepted him as Lord and Saviour over their lives, in Kerobokan Prison. They no longer conformed to the pattern of this world but their minds had been renewed. They had been transformed not by fear of imprisonment or execution in an Indonesian gaol, but through a relationship with the living God. They were new creations in Christ. They were able to shine the light of Jesus in the darkness of the Indonesian prison system.
In reconciling his death sentence with his faith in God, Chan said, “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.” (Chan while in custody following his sentencing in 2013 – Wikipedia)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (eternal life). Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
Their mission field, whether they realised it or not, was the people around them, the prisoners, the guards, prison officials and staff, the authorities, the visitors, the legal representatives, government officials, the media and others. I am sure their transformation and faith touched many of these people. It is known that some of their fellow prisoners came to accept Jesus and were baptised in prison. We may never know the full legacy that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran leave behind, but the Lord does. Because they had been successfully rehabilitated and were prepared to put their old life behind them, the hearts of many in Australia and other parts of the world softened and warmed to their plight. If they had not become changed men through their faith, by being rehabilitated and becoming role models for their fellow prisoners, how many of us would really care what was to become of them? Thankfully, the Lord had other plans for their lives.
What causes suffering and grief, the Lord permits for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20). How many have come to know the Lord through the faith and witness of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran? How many people have been strengthened in their Christian walk because of them? When people overcome the wickedness of this world, does it not generate much commentary in the newspapers, over the internet, television reports and interviews, and across social media throughout the nations? How many people read or hear the story? Millions? Tens of millions? More? As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:9) When faced with an uncertain future, many people rely less on themselves and turn to the Lord. How many would not have heard their Christian witness or come to know the Lord if all survive? Shared stories build a relational bridge that Jesus can walk across from your heart to others. (Rick Warren)
Following the execution of Chan and Sukumaran, there were reports in the media of possible reprisals, even cutbacks in foreign aid, sowing the seeds of ill-feeling towards the government of Indonesia, one of our closest neighbours and friends in the Asia-Pacific region. Thankfully, this has been short lived. There was also an element of anti-Muslim sentiment entwined within these emotions. There may have been an anti-Christian sentiment on the part of the Indonesian government towards these two men, not so much because of their faith, but because of the ongoing approaches and interference of the Christian west. Fortunately, through Jesus dying on the cross, the Lord turns our worldly wisdom, thoughts and ways right side up encouraging us to put away evil thoughts and to forgive our neighbours.
Let us never forget that government is on his (Jesus) shoulders. (Isaiah 9:6) Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. (Romans 13:1-2) (MSG) Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility towards all men. (Titus 3:1-2)
Because Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran believed in Jesus, we can take comfort and hope in knowing that they have received the promise of eternal life. Hallelujah! For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16).
They triumphed over him (the darkness of this world) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
Prayer – I pray to you, O Lord, in the time of your favour; in your love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. (Psalm 69:13) Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” (Psalm 35:3)
Promise – This is what the Lord says: “In the time of my favour I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you.” (Isaiah 49:8) I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2) Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31) Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)