People all over the world, particularly Australians, were saddened this week when reformed drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in Indonesia.
Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong Church, for one, said his heart was heavy knowing that the two men had repented of their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
"I do not claim to have all the answers or to dismiss the severity of what they did; nor do I have any desire to politicise the issue of capital punishment," he wrote in the Hillsong website. "However, I am confident in my belief that God is the Author of Life, the giver of mercy and that his ways are far above ours. As Christians, I believe that that our outworking of that doesn't leave room for the barbarism of capital punishment – in any form, anywhere."
Houston had the privilege of speaking to both men in the last few months before they died, and he says he saw for himself how they rehabilitated themselves within the prison system.
Both Chan and Myuran understood that what they did was something to be condemned, Houston says, but the Hillsong pastor said that they should not suffer from "absolute and irreversible consequences."
In particular, Chan's faith and strength in extremely trying times inspired Houston, and he believes that the two have done their best to pay their debts to society.
"In the world, power is understood as a show of authority, irrespective of opposing views – yet, Jesus's model of power was one of humility and grace. God has pardoned us all, he has and continues to extend grace to our wrongdoings. Extending grace is not a sign of weakness, but of believing in life and in people," he said.
Miracles do happen, believes Houston, and even if there was no hope left for Andrew and Myuran, he prayed that the world will continue to be inspired by their lives and testimonies, and that their families will find peace in the midst of hopelessness.