A pastor’s vow to a prisoner facing execution to speak out against the death penalty is dramatised in the short film Execution Island.
Most Australians would be familiar with the back story that led to the execution of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan for drug smuggling in Indonesia as part of a group known as the Bali Nine.
But far fewer people would be aware that a Melbourne-based pastor, Christie Buckingham, walked beside Myuran Sukumaran as his spiritual adviser as he went to face a firing squad on 29 April 2015.
Execution Island is Pastor Buckingham’s eyewitness account of that extraordinary night.
She told 96five’s Timothy Charles that the execution was the “most radical, confronting experience in my faith journey”.
Call to unite against death penalty
She came away convinced that judicial killing is wrong and wants the church to unite and speak out against the death penalty.
“I don’t believe any person has the right to take the life of another person. Yes, we do deserve punishment when we do the wrong thing, but we also have the grace of God. They did the crime, therefore they should be pay the time, but they shouldn’t be paying with their lives.”
She saw the enormous impact that coming to faith in Jesus Christ had on Myuran Sukumaran and how that affected others within Kerobokan Prison. And it was never more evident as he lived out the final minutes of his life.
Merciless judicial system
The night of the execution had a profound effect on Pastor Buckingham. “I saw the power of good and the power of God faced head on with the forces of evil; the mechanics of a merciless judicial system. And I witnessed a dynamic that I can only describe as testament to God’s amazing grace.”
Myuran and Andrew left the world singing of God’s grace and love which Pastor Buckingham says is testament to the fact that no one is beyond redemption.
About the film
- Heritage Films will release Execution Island from April 28.
- It will come with a study guide and it is hoped churches will screen the film to local communities.
- It will eventually be available on iTunes.
- The film runs for 12 minutes.
- Website: executionisland.com.au.