Condemned to Death. Alive series, 28

The Pacific Ocean

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (Jas 1:2-4, NIV2)

How do we receive "trials of many kinds"?

More than likely, it's with dread and long faces! No way! This is NOT for me!

Without trials, however, how else could we learn about perseverance or about being "mature and complete" in trusting our Heavenly Father, who will make certain that we will "not be lacking anything"?

I have been meditating upon these few verses for several days. For some reason, I felt my Father was preparing me for something that may look frightening, but will end up in victory. A few days later I was informed of my assignment for the upcoming school year, and clearly I will be facing terrifying "trials of many kinds". My first reaction? Yuck!

That same night, I dreamed that a tsunami was heading straight towards me, and there was no possible escape. I woke up panting. "Why Lord?" I asked.

I was reassured that it was my Father's will, and that He would be with me during these trials. In other words, I should not be afraid. My Father will be with me. Once these trials are over I will share with you the victory that I know I will experience.

Right now, however, I am somewhere between apprehension and anticipation. Apprehension due to adversity, anticipation to see how my Father will see me through. After all, "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." (Matt 5:3, MSG) I am looking forward to that part!

No matter how frightening it may seem, my situation is nothing compared to what Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran faced a few weeks ago. Let me explain . . .

About ten years ago they were arrested in Indonesia for drug smuggling, and for the past ten years, they had been incarcerated for this crime. They, too, faced "trials of many kinds". What they hadn't anticipated was that while in solitary confinement, they each found God. Their lives changed drastically, and they learned about perseverance and about becoming "mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Through correspondence courses, Andrew studied theology for six years and eventually became a pastor. He taught his fellow inmates about his Heavenly Father. He ran a cooking class, and he even performed in an anti-drug documentary for school students, and with the help of several church groups, he built an orphanage for disadvantaged children in remote areas of Sabu Island.

When these two men received their court date, where they would find out the penalty for smuggling drugs, Andrew remembered reading the following text: "Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:23, 24, NIV2)

Encouraged by this verse, he prayed to his Father, "God if You're real and if this is true, I want You to free me, and if You do, I'll serve You every day for the rest of my life."

At the court hearing, both Andrew and Myuran were condemned to death. Shaken, Andrew called out to God from his jail cell: "God, I asked you to set me free, not kill me!" It's then that he heard his Father's gentle voice: "Andrew, I have set you free from the inside out; I have given you life!" From that moment on, Andrew didn't stopped worshipping Him like never before.

Four years ago, Andrew told someone, "I don't really fear it, death. Even if I pass away, I'm still going to have a life up in heaven and obviously that's going to be for eternity."

On April 29, 2015 both Andrew and Myuran were executed. Fearless, they faced their executioners. They were at peace, for they felt the presence of their Heavenly Father. Just before their execution they sang "Amazing Grace" and "Bless the Lord, O My Soul." They were so exited to meet their Heavenly Father, the highlight of anyone who knows God. They died being a testimony to all those who witnessed their last moments.

These were men of faith. They had done something really wrong in their past, but they both met God in an unimaginable place. It changed their lives, and they became disciples of love. They were not afraid of death, for they knew the outcome!

My circumstances are nothing compared to what they experienced. I truly have nothing to fear compared to what they went through. In fact, I am looking forward to meeting Andrew and Myuran personally one day.

May we always remember Andrew and Myuran when we face all kinds of adversity. May we start shining like never before, just like they did. This is how we become truly alive: our Father shining through us! Wow! Dad you are awesome!

May you anticipate the adversities that will come into your life this year. Rejoice and watch how your Father will come through for you. Happy New Year!

Rob Chaffart

Written on May 18, 2015

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