I went to bed last night rejoicing in the Lord, my sadness of the injustice turning to joy after reading a fB piece posted by a friend taken from THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper 1st May 2015– the true story of the hours before their death ….
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran spent their last hours with Salvation Army ministers before they became the first prisoners to be led from their cells for execution.
Father Charlie Burrows, a priest who ministers prisoners in Cilacap, said there were no tears as Chan, 31 and Sukumaran, 34, were handcuffed and taken to the firing range on Nusakambangan Island to be shot dead.
“There was no crying because I would say the dominant things in their mind was to lessen the suffering of the people being left behind,” he told the Seven network today.
“They didn’t want them to suffer any more than needs be and they were definitely going to be strong, not for themselves but for their loved ones, the people they were leaving behind.”
Fr Burrows said the men’s hands were handcuffed to the front so they could shake hands with the “big number of warders outside.”
“When the time came to be taken out to the place of execution, they all shook hands and spoke together — also with the warders,” he said earlier.
He said the prisoners had agreed they would not cause difficulties for warders, who were “just doing their job, nothing personal”.
Earlier, it emerged that in his last three days, Andrew Chan developed a soul-saving routine to prepare, as best as possible, himself, Myuran Sukumaran and their fellow death-row inmates for their executions.
It is understood Chan, 31, gathered the condemned prisoners to worship together each morning.
He won the hearts of the guards, who allowed the other prisoners — four Nigerian men, Okwuduli Oyatanze, Martin Anderson, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte and Indonesian Zainal Abidin — to join in prayer.
Before the executions, Chan led them in worship for two hours, says a pastor who did not wish to be named. It was “a time of joyful yet solemn worship as they prepared … for eternity with God’’.
A Catholic priest who attended Gularte said the mentally ill man did not understand he was to be killed until being shackled to the stake.
Charles Burrows, a Cilacap parish priest who has been witness and spiritual adviser at several executions on Nusakambangan, said he had tried to prepare Gularte. “But Rodrigo only seemed to grasp that he was being executed when they started putting the chains on his hands and feet — he said then, ‘Am I being executed?’”
Gularte, 42, who was arrested in 2004 for importing cocaine, was later diagnosed as a severe paranoid schizophrenic but Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo repeatedly refused to consider this as reason to lift his death sentence.
Despite their fear, Father Burrows said all the convicts were “relatively calm, singing hymns and praying” with their spiritual advisers.
Witnesses described the scene as amazing.
While being prepared for the firing squad, the prisoners sang hymns, including Amazing Grace and Worship His Holy Name, even as they were tied to the stakes. They reportedly refused to be blindfolded. They were shot while singing.
Pastor Karina De Vega said she had never seen people die who were so joyful, at peace and seeming excited to be meeting God.
Earlier, as supporters sought to comfort Chan and Sukumaran, it was in fact they who prayed for and comforted their families.
“They were ready to meet God and were looking forward to meeting Jesus,” the pastor said.
“The impact of their faith and joy in facing the trauma of death is a testimony that will resound for many years. They are dead but their testimony lives on.’’
Kerobokan art teacher and minister Tina Bailey, who supported the families in Cilacap as the ¬executions took place, said “it was a very long night’’.
Melburnian Anne-Maree Pearce, who started the Mothers’ of Mercy campaign in Bali, kept vigil through the night with a group that included New Zealand evangelist preacher Owen Pomana and four former prisoners whom Chan had baptised.
In the spirit of Chan’s wishes, the group sang joyously. “Andrew asked people to sing and be joyful at the time of the shooting,’’ said Mr Pomana.
Former prisoner and evangelist preacher Matius Arif Mirdjaja, who was baptised by Chan, declared that Chan and Sukumaran were martyrs under Indonesian law. “Depravity and corruption of our judicial system is a Mount Everest in our country and must be opposed,’’ he said.