More than 1500 people packed Sydney’s Hillsong church in Baulkham Hills for the funeral service for one of the Bali Nine ringleaders, Andrew Chan.
Chan, 31, was executed in Indonesia on April 29, along with seven others, while defiantly singing Amazing Grace.
It was one of the songs sung by the congregation, however in the order of service the lyrics were changed to Amazing Grace — my chains are gone.
Chan defiantly wore one of the team’s jerseys when he was shot.
Salvation Army Major David Soper welcomed the congregation referring to Chan as pastor.
The congregation included the family of fellow Bali Nine executed drug trafficker Myuran Sukumaran.
“Two families in the worst of circumstances you have shone through, ” he said.
In his welcome he described the emotion he felt helping Chan through the execution.
“In those last precious few moments I was overwhelmed by my love for him and devastated by the waste,” he said.
“He was prepared to meet his maker. I saw peace and assurance. I saw radiant beauty.”
His brother Michael Chan said today was a day to celebrate his life.
“People deserve second chances in life, people make mistakes. He showed us that everyone can change and change for the better,” he said.
“You have touched so many lives. You have done me proud and the whole family.
“One of Andrew’s last wishes was that we continue to fight the death penalty even though we lost the fight.
“You used to say you looked up to me, now I look up to you.
“I will miss those stupid arguments about whose NRL team was better — the Dogs or the Panthers.
“Those big manly hugs we gave each other, the sound of your laugh and so much more.”
Michael urged people who had the chance to meet his brother to let everyone else know about the true Andrew.
He finished his speech with one last quote from Andrew: “Guys, let’s pray about this”.
Friend Vicki Baird who visited Andrew over his 10 years of incarceration also spoke.
She explained how the needs of others always came before his own, as evidenced by a roster he organised for prisoners to take care of another prisoner who was ill in solitary confinement.
Another friend, Miranda Riddington, said Chan fed and clothed people, raised funds for medical needs and baptised fellow inmates.
She spoke of the international church birthed in the Kerobokan prison of which Chan was the pastor.
The cheeky personality that many described at the service shone through when Ms Riddington said: “Only just last week Andrew said to me: ‘I love being a pastor in the prison, no-one can leave’.
Wife recites letter written to Chan on day of execution
Febyanti Herewila, who Chan married two days before his execution, received a standing ovation after speaking at the service.
She recited a letter that she wrote to Chan on the day of his execution.
“Darling keep singing when they take you. I love you, I’ll see you soon, death cannot separate us,” she said.
She praised Chan for his strength throughout the ordeal, saying “no-one could ever face death like him”.
“Andrew refused to cover his eyes and he even wore his glasses that night,” she said.
“He hates wearing his glasses, [but] that night he chose to wear them because he wanted to look them in the eyes”.
After the ceremony there was a private cremation.
Chan was executed alongside fellow Australian Myuran Sukumaran and six other prisoners on the Indonesian prison island of Nusakambangan on Wednesday last week.
The two men spent nearly 10 years in detention on death row in Bali’s Kerobokan prison after they were found guilty of attempting to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin into Australia.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the executions were a “dark moment” in the relationship between Australia and Indonesia, and responded by withdrawing the Australian ambassador to Indonesia, Paul Grigson.
Chan expressed remorse for his crimes and, together with Sukumaran, he established a drug rehabilitation program for fellow inmates at the Kerobokan prison.
An atheist before his arrest, Chan later converted to the Christian faith, which he said helped him cope with life in jail.