Pastor Paul Downie and his wife Anne have been giving spiritual guidance to the Bali Nine.AS inmates at Bali’s Kerobokan prison came to grips with the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran yesterday morning, Paul and Anne Downie were there bringing comfort.
The former Warrnambool Gateway Church leaders were among a select group of “outsiders” at a church service inside the prison where the Australian pair had spent the past decade awaiting their sentence of death by firing squad for their role in the Bali Nine drug smuggling group.
The Downies, who are relieving leaders at the Kuta International Christian Church, have experienced first-hand the tensions and emotions of prisoners with visits twice a week to assist Bali Nine member Matthew Norman.
“Today will be indelibly impressed in our memories,” Pastor Downie said.
“There were about 70 people at the service including about 50 prisoners, three of whom got up and sang.
“It was all very moving and many were openly shedding tears.
“There was certainly an atmosphere of grief, but oh boy, did it turn into a victory praise time.
“A couple of them shared testimonies of how Andrew and Myuran had affected their lives for good.
“The local pastor encouraged everyone to see the bigger picture that God has for us and to see the legacy that both have left.
“Anne and I had the privilege of praying for people at the end of the service.”
Pastor Downie said eyewitness reports described how Chan and the eight prisoners sang Christian songs as they faced the firing squad and he hugged the guards.
“Andrew had certainly become a spiritual leader,” Pastor Downie said.
“We may never know the full impact these two guys have had.”
Pastor Downie said Norman had agreed to step up as spiritual leader inside the prison.
“He was doing it really hard today, dealing with anger towards the Indonesian government,” he said.
“That’s understandable because he’s lost two very great friends.
“I prayed with him and his girlfriend Anita today.
“Anita was responsible for leading four of the Bali Nine to the Lord.”
Meanwhile, out in the Balinese community there is little of the media frenzy seen back in Australia, but there is open opposition in some local newspapers, Pastor Downie said.
“I hope for the sake of the local community there is not a tourism boycott because that would have major ramifications,” he said. “It’s not the fault of the Balinese.”
The Downies will leave Bali mid-May to return to their home in Teesdale, near Geelong.
Source: The Standard