|The Andrew Chan funeral service at the Hillsong convention centre.|
Photo: Dave A Oliver. Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Hundreds of mourners bade farewell to Andrew Chan with the same song he was singing when he died - 10,000 Reasons, a hymn proclaiming that “whatever may pass” the devout should be “singing when the evening comes”.
For the former drug smuggler who became an ordained minister in prison and was fondly renowned for his high volume, if tuneless, singing, it was a moving end to a ceremony that mixed evangelical exhortations with Chan’s larrikin humour.
Lifelong friend Mark Soper read a eulogy that Chan penned that summed up his irreverent sense of fun and unbending faith in God.
“It’s a day that I’ll arise from my own coffin right now as the words are spoken ‘In Jesus’ name, arise!,” it began, before Soper paused. “Or am I just enjoying it too much in heaven and I await all of you up here.”
The audience in the cavernous Hillsong convention centre burst into laughter, and not for the first, or last, time.
“Treat each day as a diamond for each day is valuable as you can never buy it back. Learn to use it doing the things you love, spend it with the people you care for most because we just never know when we say goodbye,” the eulogy continued.
“I leave now in peace and love, I pray that you will all know how I valued and treasured you love and friendship. As you all leave here today, who will you witness to today?”
Before he became a crusading minister, friends remembered Chan as a boisterous child, always up for adventure and cracking jokes.
It was not a time to dwell on his mistakes, they said, but to celebrate his transformation.
Miranda Riddington, a Christian minister, said Chan was unlike any pastor she had met. He had a “hotline to heaven” and was deeply passionate his work.
“I love being a pastor in prison,” she recalled Chan telling her. “No-one can leave!”
|Michael Chan with family and friends carry the coffin of Andrew Chan.|
Photo: Brendan Esposito. Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Chan’s wife Febyanti Herewila, herself a pastor, also spoke, wryly observing that she had spent far more time preparing for Chan’s funeral than their wedding, which took place on the execution island of Nuskambangan less than 48 hours before he was shot dead.
“No-one could ever face death like him,” said Febyanti, revealing Chan had poor eyesight and hated wearing his glasses but did so on the night he died “because he wanted to look them in the eyes”.
As he was led to the execution fields, she said, he asked God to forgive his executioners, and then prayed for Indonesia, a country and people he grew to love. Entering the execution ground, Chan and the seven other condemned men sang Amazing Grace. After they were tied to a stake, with Chan urging each to sing louder, they sang 10,000 Reasons.
They all managed to finish the first verse of the song, she said. But, halfway through the second, the firing squad let loose their weapons. It was, said Febyanti: “The song that we sang on our engagement day, the song we all sang on our wedding day.”
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Tom Allard, May 8, 2015
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