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United in Proclamation
Presented Tuesday evening, July 4, 2000

Violete F. Bocala, President

The Southern Asia-Pacific Division was headquartered in Singapore for only 10 months and 16 days. It moved to the Philippines in November 1997. The former Far Eastern Division (FED) was bifurcated by its annual council in Penang, Malaysia in November 1996. The two divisions established as a result of this administrative decision are the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, with headquarters in Seoul, South Korea; and the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, with headquarters now in the Philippines.

Church Growth
To proclaim the everlasting gospel to every tribe, language, and people of the 17 countries in the territory of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SAPD) is both challenging and exciting. We are seeing the fulfillment of the promise of the One who said, �I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world� (Matt. 28:20). We thank God for His mercies as we report on the progress of the church in the SAPD.

Bangladesh. The message of the third angel entered this country in 1904. In January 1997 the membership of Bangladesh Union Mission was 10,591. It took 93 years to have the first 10,000 church members. But now soul winning is gaining momentum. In 1997, 1998, and 1999 more than 3,000 people have joined the church each year. As of the first quarter of this year, the church membership of Bangladesh Union Mission was 20,431. In only three years union membership nearly doubled.

Cambodia. In 1989 we did not know of a single Seventh-day Adventist in Cambodia. Now we have 50 congregations, and about 3,000 members worship the Lord every Sabbath.

Gorontalo. This is an area in western Indonesia in which there is a large concentration of devout Muslims. To avoid persecution, and so that the work will not be cut short, a creative outreach strategy was implemented. Those interested in Christianity leave Gorontalo, move to a Christian area where they are taught and baptized, and then return to Gorontalo. The new converts then work with their relatives and friends, and the whole process is repeated. There are now 120 baptized members in Gorontalo.

The Philippines is known as the colporteur capital of the world. There are about 5,000 regular and part-time literature evangelists serving here. No other country in the world has that number of colporteurs. The distribution of truth filled literature has contributed much to the conversion of many individuals. In the Philippines about 40,000 people unite with Christ and His church every year. The presidents of the three union conferences have set a goal to have one million members in the Philippines by the year 2004.

A Prophetic Movement
About 2,600 years ago the prophet Isaiah made this prophecy: �The isles shall wait for his law� (Isa. 42:4).

No division in the world has more islands than the Southern Asia-Pacific Division. The Philippines has 7,107 islands. There are now more than 800,000 commandment-keeping people in the country. Indonesia is a country that has 13,600 islands, and it is home to more than 190,000 church members. The total islands in these two countries alone number more than 24,000.

There are 17 countries in our territory�each with many islands. The Southern Asia-Pacific Division is honored to cooperate with God in building up His kingdom in this part of the world, and we praise Him that we now can claim more than 1 million believers who are dedicated to keeping His law and being prepared for His coming.

Stories of Faithfulness
A group in Indonesia that calls itself the Seventh-day Adventist State Conference separated from the church in 1949. On November 19, 1997, the individuals in this group returned to the fold. Their 32 congregations, 23 permanent church buildings, together with their leaders�a total of 1,997 members�all reunited with God�s church.

Last year an Adventist and his wife established a scuba-diving business and hired several local employees on one of the islands in Sorong, Indonesia. The Protestant community in that place was surprised to learn that business closed every Sabbath, that the couple didn�t drink liquor or eat pork and certain kinds of seafood. Their inquiries resulted in a series of Bible studies. Convinced of the Sabbath truth, these individuals stopped attending church on Sunday and gave Bible studies to their family members, relatives, and friends.

The group eventually grew to more than 400 persons, and created great concern to their former church and community leaders. This new group of believers began to be persecuted, and they had to make a difficult decision.

A group of 40 families abandoned their homes and farms, moved to an island, cleared the jungle, carved a new community, and built a church where they could worship God freely every Sabbath.

Another group of 25 families did the same. They left their homes, went to another island, and built temporary houses and a church building. Their former pastors and some local community leaders tried to persuade them to change their minds. But the decision was firm. They answered that even if they would die they would not go back to worshiping on Sunday.

Reinhold Kesaulya, president of East Indonesia Union Conference, reported that several visits were made by our pastors to these two islands. Here is a portion of his report dated April 18, 2000:

�This Thursday I have to visit Sorong and the two Adventist villages. The people there invited us to baptize them soon. When Mrs. Kesaulya and I visited these places last February there were more than 200 interests ready for baptism. They had already built their traditional church buildings and houses. We had Sabbath meeting with them and I was moved by their faith and courage, although hundreds of them are not baptized yet.�

Church Leadership and Personal Witnessing
The year 2000 will be the third and the last phase of the Church Leadership and Personal Witnessing seminars. The main purpose of this program is to develop strong leadership in the local churches and involve the church members in active personal witnessing.

In areas in which the small groups have been activated, soul winning is on the upswing. We look forward to a time in the near future when the church will be united in proclaiming the last warning message.

Strategic Planning
The Southern Asia-Pacific Division administrators, department and services directors, and associates worked for almost one year in developing an outcome-oriented strategic plan. Eight areas of concern and 21 desired outcomes have been decided. Union conferences are being urged to adopt this outcome-oriented strategic planning as well, so that we will have the same direction throughout the division territory.

We believe that when the church moves together in the proclamation of the three angels� messages, there will be revival and reformation. Our experience tends to prove that those involved in missionary outreach become more prayerful and are more likely to experience a personal revival in spiritual discipline.

May the blessed hope and glorious appearing of Jesus Christ keep us motivated and focused so that by His grace it can happen in this generation.


© 2000, Adventist Review.