craig borlase writer
articles December 2nd, 2016

The Bali Nine, Part two – Andrew, Myu and Christie’s story

[Here’s the second part of the extended story that appears in 10,000 Reasons with Matt Redman. Stories like this are deceptively hard to write. There’s a danger of overcooking it all.]

They’d been singing “10,000 Reasons” for a few months, belting it out every day during communion. Myu had been brought up a Christian and then wandered away from his faith. Since being imprisoned, much of his knowledge of scripture that he had learned as a child was coming back to him. Bit by bit, his faith returned, just as if he was unpacking a box of old treasures he had long thought lost forever. At times he felt like there were so many more than ten thousand reasons to bless the Lord. From the moment he first heard the song it resonated deeply with him.
Eventually it was time to go. Once outside, Myu paused and looked up. “This is magnificent,” he smiled, his eyes transfixed. For ten years he had not seen a sunset or a sunrise. Finally he could up at the night sky. “Thank you Lord, thank you God for these stars.”
Pastor Christie was escorted from the cell and taken with the other eight spiritual advisors to wait in a tent near the execution spot. As the minutes passed she remembered how, before she had arrived on the island, she had wondered whether there would be a lot of fear or anxiety to cope with. Instead, it felt as though the whole world was carrying them in prayer. As she waited, she knew that instead of being a place of slaughter, she was in a sacred place. A place of horror was about to become a holy place.
It was the sound of the metal on metal that broke the silence. Pastor Christie couldn’t make it out at first, but soon realized what it was: the men had been shackled. Like slaves from a bygone age they shuffled forward out of the darkness, their hands and feet held tight.
Suddenly, out of the darkness, she heard a voice she had grown to know so well over the previous years. It was Andrew’s. He was singing a song she knew: My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save.
He paused. “Come on boys,” he said. “We can sing better than this.”
Slowly—quietly at first—other voices joined in. With each step and each line of the melody the song grew louder. This is such a gift, Pastor Christie thought as she watched each prisoner grow in courage as they sang. They carried on walking, the sound of the chains and the singing getting louder as they approached. And when they finished their first verse, Pastor Christie and the rest of the spiritual advisors sang the next verse back to them. Eventually the song ended, and as everyone started to sing Amazing Grace, the advisors were finally released from the tent to join the men as they approached the clearing.
At first it was just one guard who was crying, then others joined in. A line of forty of them made a guard of honor as the prisoners shuffled forward toward them. One guard broke ranks and hugged Myu. Another pulled down the mask that all the guards were wearing. “Please forgive us,” he said. “Forgive Indonesia.”
“I forgive you,” he said. Then, looking at each one in turn, he repeated the same words. “I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you.” Some he thanked too.
The execution site was just a small clearing in the forest. Wooden posts stuck up out of the ground like ragged flagpoles. The guards tied the men to the poles, their elbows bound behind their backs, while the others carried on singing.
“Three minutes,” a guard said.
Pastor Christie stood close by Myu. He turned to her. “I’m so sorry to ask you to do this,” he said. “But someone has to speak up, and I know that you will. I’ve chosen you because I know you hate the death penalty and you are not afraid.”
“I’ll speak up. You can be sure of that, Myu.” She paused a little. “Myu, it’s my greatest privilege to be here with you, and a great honor.”
With Myu still smiling, they talked a little about how to die well. Soon a soldier tapped her on the shoulder and she knew she had to go. She noticed a narrow green light on his body. She looked back. There were twelve of them coming from where the guards were lining up. She lifted her arm in front of Myu, not wanting him to see.
“Now, Myu, is there anything you want to say?”
“Yes, I want to forgive these people that are tying me.”
“Anything else?”
“Yes, I want to declare God’s blessing on Indonesia.”
“And is there anything else?”
“Yes, Lord Jesus I trust you, I trust you Jesus.”
“OK. The time has come. Let’s start singing.”
A soldier tapped her on the arm. “One minute, she said. One minute.”
“Myu,” she said, “remember what the Lord has said to you.”
“I do.”
“You have forgiven these people, Myu.”
“Yes, I’ve forgiven them.” And then he started to sing: Bless the Lord, O my soul… worship his holy name. Pastor Christie joined in, her voice small in the night. She felt the soldier tug at her arm again and looked up to see that she was the only one still there. “Myu, I’m just going to take a step back, are you ok?”
She stepped back. “Keep singing, Myu. I’ll see you on the other side.”
“I’ll see you on the other side.”
Andrew called her over. She put her hand on his heart. “I thank you for being God’s man.”
“You keep being God’s woman, Mrs. B. Love you.”
She walked to the side to join the other spiritual advisors. She could see the green lights had returned. They were lined up on his heart. A plastic sheet was pulled down to keep them out of the line of fire.
Together with Andrew and one of the other prisoners, Myu sang. His voice was loud, not timid in any way. She thought about the line at the end of the song. Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes. She and Myu had sung it so many times in the previous months, knowing full well that at some point, sooner or later, the evening would come. Now it was finally here, and he was doing exactly what he said he would do; he was singing out praise with his very last breaths.
“Love you, Myu. I’ll see you on the other side.”
And still they carried on singing. Your name is great and your heart is kind.
Then the night was ripped apart as a hundred bullets tore the air. Then silence. Pastor Christie listened intently. She wanted to know for sure that they had died instantly. If they hadn’t, Indonesian law stated that they would be left for up to ten minutes before she would have to go and witness them being shot in the head.
“Please let them have gone, Lord,” she prayed. “Please.”
There was no noise. Nothing.
Where there had been singing, now there was nothing. A silence so heavy it was as if it had taken all the light with it.
Somehow, the atmosphere was not what she expected. She didn’t cry or fall to pieces. Instead the whole place seemed to be filled with such an atmosphere of love. It was like the executed prisoners had been euthanized by God’s love. A horrible, heinous thing was now a sign of honor, love and holiness.
She was so fully aware of all the prayer, encouragement, and support that came from so many different people in so many different places. So many others had helped the boys over the years, making them into who they were; Pastor Christie felt honored to play a part in the big picture of their lives.