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Courage Under Fire

Our life always speaks. Sometimes our life can speak louder in our death than in our actual living. For me, I am still working at the living part, but for Andrew Chan his death has touched a nation, and arguably the whole world, in a way that his living could not.

Australia was plunged into deep sadness with the midnight execution of Andrew Chan and his seven friends by firing squad in Indonesia on 29th April 2015.  Andrews final faith filled words reverberated around Australia and the globe from his funeral service at Hillsong church on Friday.

Andrew Chan’s story of courage under fire is almost beyond comprehension to the mortal man as Paul Simon alluded to in his song Slip Sliding Away. Courage is foundational to manhood and a prerequisite for fatherhood. So we dedicate this issue to the life of this brave and broken man in the hope that it encourages you to greater acts of bravery as a father and as a husband.

We are all broken as men in some way and we all need the inspiration of heaven to take us beyond ourselves for the sake of our respective families. In no way do we condone Andrew’s actions in smuggling heroin but we do congratulate him on admitting his error and amending his ways, and living and dying like a man to prove it.

The story from news.com on the funeral tells the story well:

“Andrew Chan died believing he was “a winner in God’s eyes” and joked that he was “enjoying it too much in heaven” in a heartbreaking self-penned eulogy.

Addressing mourners at his funeral from beyond the grave, Chan thanked the congregation for “gathering here to witness something great”.

“We learn that we don’t need to be old to die, nor do we need to have something wrong with us, but we learn that when it’s time to go, home has the kitchen sink ready,” Chan wrote in his own eulogy, read out at the church service by his close friend Mark Soper.

“My last moments here on earth I sang out hallelujah I ran the good race, I fought the good fight and came out a winner in God’s eyes.

“I leave now in peace and love, I pray that you will all know how I treasure you.”

Chan, who arranged his own funeral with his wife of just two days, Febyanti, used the occasion to give his brother Michael a gentle ribbing, telling him to “stand up Mick and look at the crowd” because he knew he would “hate being in the spotlight.”

“I promise Mick I will not steal your birth certificate in heaven to make a fake ID, which I think he’s done before,” Chan joked.

He also acknowledged his new wife, who accompanied his body home to Australia after his death by firing squad in Indonesia on April 29.

“Another person I need to thank is my wife Feby, she’s taught me love, peace, endurance and so much more,” he wrote.

Feby told the congregation Chan had written her a letter from prison every single day without fail and his funeral involved “more preparations than our own wedding”.

She also shared excerpts of the pair’s final correspondence as well as revealing details about his final hours, vowing “death will not separate us.”

“I have so many and a lot of good stories that I could share about him,” Feby told mourners.

“No one could ever face death like him. When he spent the last day, he prayed ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’”

She revealed Chan had worn glasses as he faced his executioners at Nusakambangan because “he wanted to look them in the eyes”.

“He hated wearing glasses,” she said.

“While he left with the seven prisoners and walked to the place they were going to kill him…they sang… when their voice started to slow down, he told them ‘Come on boys we can do better than this’,”

“When they entered the field they, sang Amazing Grace. When they were tied up, they sang

10,000 Reasons, the song we sang on our engagement day

“They managed to sing the first verse and the second verse and halfway (through it) they took him.”

 She read out a letter she wrote to Chan on his final night.

“I love you so much, don’t worry about me I’ll be fine, I still believe in miracles.”

“Darling keep singing when they take you, keep singing when you already at the field… Rejoice, I love you, I’ll see you soon.”

She said Chan told her: “You will need to continue with the visions of the island (where he was executed) Never forget the people there… continue to fight for the injustice in this country.”

Chan’s final request was that “at his funeral, he wanted us to talk about the God that transformed his life”.

Feby’s address came after an emotion tribute by Michael Chan, who told mourners his younger brother had taught him just how much human beings could change, describing Andrew’s life as “short and fruitful.”

“Andrew taught me people deserve second chances in life, people make mistakes in life and deserved a second chance,” he told the congregation at Hillsong Church in Sydney’s Baulkham Hills.

Miranda Riddington who did “tag team preaching” with Chan at Kerobokan prison, spoke of his development into a deeply religious man. She spoke of four “distinct seasons” of his journey, “Andrew the prisoner”, “the pastor”, “the prince to princess”, when he found wife Feby, and “Andrew the psalmist”.

She credited Feby with putting him on a more disciplined path. “It’s amazing how a woman can do that with a man,” she said.

Lovework

Reading Andrew’s story of courage, it is hard not to be inspired. This story, for me, is very personal because Miranda Riddington’s husband is part of my weekly men’s group here in Wollongong, so I can personally testify to the veracity of Andrew’s story.

It gets even more personal for me: My good friend Mal Feebrey, who with his team from 180TC, was part of putting together the 12 Pt plan to restore fatherhood in Australia in 2003 was also there for Andrew Chan’s execution and he was close enough to hear the rifle shots when Andrew died. He tells the story in this article of the time in 2010 that Andrew offered to give him his very own liver to save his life.

Hopefully you like me, are encouraged by Andrews’ story, to be the courageous father your family so desperately needs.

Yours for more courageous fathers

Warwick Marsh

PS. Thanks to all those who applied to come to Train the Trainer Summit at Stanwell Tops. We look forward to a great weekend.

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