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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Andrew Chan

The following is my personal tribute to an extraordinary young man. I will say just a little about Myu because I really didn't know him other than to say hello. However, there was a Facebook post from our friend Arif who spent some time with Myu the day before the execution. Myu said to Arif with a tear in his eyes... 'it's ok now 'Fat Boy' I know where I'm going'.

Myu was a private person. That certainly couldn't be said about Andrew.

I'm sitting in the chapel inside Kerobokan prison. As usual it's hot and sticky and the overhead fans barely seem to make a difference. Every now and then the prison loudspeaker bursts into life interspersed with a rooster crowing somewhere outside, then suddenly the apparent calm is disrupted as the 'high voltage' worship team bursts into life getting in some last minute practice before the service begins.

As we wait, the prisoners file in, some visibly upset. I meet some of Virgy's 'girls' who I haven't seen in a long time. It's really lovely to see them again. Finally the service begins as the raucus music cranks up even louder and our ears start to ring in the small chapel. But that's what Andrew loved... the music loud, singing at the top of his voice, often off key but as in all things, totally focussed on the Lord and praising Him. But today, it's not the same. Earlier this morning, Andrew, Myu and seven others had what is most precious and sacred, taken from them.

I am moved as Indonesian inmates, their voices full of emotion give their testimony about a man who has had an obvious and life changing impact on them. I am moved as an Iranian Muslim cries for his friends Andrew and Myu. I am moved as 'Ampar' a lovely Thai girl stands next to me singing praises to the Lord at the top of her voice. I can hear her quite clearly above the noise of the amplifiers and drums. She is another of the many testaments of the grace of God and Andrews ministry inside the jail.

Then pastor Lee Carlson preached a sermon that was without question from God. Five points why Jesus has won the victory, and has won again through the lives and testimony of Andrew and Myu. Pastor Lee then shares something that brought most of us to tears. Andrews long time friend and mentor who was the last person to spend time with him on Nusa Kambangan had relayed this message. It said:

'While Andrew was in the holding cell prior to execution, he shared the gospel with the only Indonesian among the nine to be executed. The man was a Muslim who subsequently had a vision of the Lord Jesus, (which is quite common among Muslims who give their life to Christ). Andrew also taught everyone a song, and as they were being led to the firing squad they were all singing. Andrew was heard encouraging them to sing louder. There were about fifteen of the guards who were visibly upset. Andrew went and embraced them and said he forgave them. Apparently, they were still singing when the shots rang out and silenced them'.

Now, Pastor Lee invites people to the front for prayer and many go forward as they seek solace from the pain of losing a 'family' member. Many are weeping and one strong muscular man collapses with grief while being prayed for. We sing a final song as we form a circle and hold hands. The song is the last song Andrew, Myu and the other seven were singing. 'Bless the Lord O my soul (Ten thousand reasons)'. It was Andrews favourite.

The shots silenced them, but the testimony of all of them, and Andrew in particular will never be silenced. Jesus has the victory.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kalimantan Adventure

Kadek, while we wait at Pontianak
Kadek gets invited to preach all over Indonesia, and this time I accompanied him. I was warned it would be a long trip but I must say nothing quite prepared me.

Our destination was a village called Madya Raya which is in the central west area of Kalimantan (Borneo). To get there we caught a plane from Bali to Jakarta at 7am, then a plane from Jakarta to Pontianak at 12.45pm, a bus from Pontianak at 7pm which arrived at Nanga Pinoh at 6am the next morning, and then a 4 wheel drive to Madya Raya. I guessed the bus trip to be about 300km on the main highway which took 11 hours (including a half hour unscheduled stop for a flat tyre). At least a half of that trip was travelled at an average speed of 20km per hour because the 'sealed' road was so unbelievably bad. It was so bad you literally had to hang on or get thrown out of your seat. But wait... there's more!

If I thought that trip was bad, the four hours to travel 80km on a 'goat track' to the village in the 4x4 was another matter entirely. At one stage on the return journey while negotiating a steep hill in the pouring rain, the 4x4 had 4WD selected and the accelerator flat to the floor, the drive train sounded like it was going to disintegrate over the roar of the engine and we weren't moving except sideways. In a word it was exciting.

Most of the villages between Nanga Pinoh and Madya Raya were on the river, and most were predominantly Muslim. Madya Raya is an exception, and while also being on the river it is 100% Christian (culturally). Probably about 75% of the 3,000 population go to one of the three churches. Interestingly the main church got so overcrowded they actually started another two (so all the same denomination). The main church that we preached at holds about 900 people and it was packed to overflowing on Easter Friday... I think the Bule (white man) may have been an unusual attraction.

It was an experience I won't forget, the highlights being the people and their faith, the village community, the church services, Kadek's powerful preaching, the isolation, having to eat a full meal every home we visited, the scenery, and nursing a (wild) baby orang-utan.

It was also a tough gig sleeping on the floor with a mattress about 3cm thick, hot and sticky, no electricity during the day, five services in three days and many house visits praying for the sick and needy and even taking an English class for the high school kids, not to mention the trip there and back. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Some images from the trip

River taxi at Pontianak - this one wasn't so crowded
Right next to this the people wash themselves and their dishes.
The water is putrid

I don't have any pics of the bus trip cos it was all in the dark.

 The river that we followed from Nanga Pinoh to the village

Some of the denuded forests

 The track!
 They are still taking out massive trees
 Arriving at last!

 The bridge at Karya Raya

What's left of the old MAF airstrip last used 15 years ago

 The main church - holds about 900 people

 These kids singing is incredible (and in tune)

 Ministry team - Kadek in the middle

 One of the ('well-to-do') houses we visited

 This part of town looks quite nice
 My new little friend... cute as'



A (very) Sad Farewell

Actually, none of us got to say goodbye. Little JoJo's grandfather came to take Jojo back to his home for a couple of days. We were then informed he wouldn't be coming back. He is such a lovely little boy, and we (especially Kadek and Yohana) will miss him. Our prayer is that he will be well looked after. Please pray for him as we are concerned about his welfare.

Komang and Jojo

Ni Luh & Jojo with Gede

Rina and Jojo

Musa and Jojo

Jojo and 'bunnies'

Jojo and Ni Luh
Yohana and Jojo

The Kids Go Camping

Recently Kadek and Yohana took the kids to the new land with a couple of tents that had been donated. Camping Balinese style is a bit different to our normal camping experience as they all get dressed up, go to the camp site, set up the tents, sit in them, have a feed then pack up and go home! Not exactly adventurous... but, they loved it!

A New Fish

Putu, Gede, Kadek and Gede's wife Ni Luh

It is always time for celebration when someone commits their life to the Lord. And even more so when you see new Christians involved in leading them to Christ. Such was the case at Kingdom Kids Home recently. A previous post talked about a young Balinese man Gede Darma and his family,  who were evicted from their family and village because of their new faith. We were able to assist them in starting a new business in Ubud (which is going extremely well, praise God). Gede subsequently employed a young Balinese man named Putu and talked to him about Jesus. When he expressed an interest to know more they bought him to the kids home several times and Kadek led him to the Lord. Hallelujah!