Celebration highlights the progress of mission in the region, despite ongoing challenges.
On December 5, 2022, a day of celebration began in the territory of the Malaysia Union Mission as its leaders, constituents, and members came to witness the opening of its new building in Seremban 2, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.
The Southeast Asian Union Mission was dissolved on December 13, 2022, replaced by three new church territories: the Singapore Conference, the Southeastern Union Mission, and the Malaysia Union Mission.
The inauguration was a reunion of former employees and friends. Leaders and past coworkers from nearby institutions attended the occasion to witness how the ministry is developing in Malaysia.
Malaysia Union Mission president Abel Bana shared some of what he called the “joyous beginnings” and “birth pains” of creating a union to further the mission in the country of Malaysia. “I still recall when we attempted to organize the union office in Malaysia,” Bana said. “God has helped us through the shift by giving us strength and endurance. We were able to refocus our mission thanks to the dissolution. This project has taught us a lot. The road may be challenging, but God will always get us through.”
General Conference associate secretary Claude Richli, who supported the church as it started its mission in Malaysia, represented Seventh-day Adventist world leaders during the opening. To have a focused evangelistic plan to reach the greater southeast Asian region, Richli recalls having the vision to dissolve the Southeast Asia Union Mission. The Southeastern Asia Union Mission, which serves the deeply Buddhist nations of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, was established due to this desire, he said. The Singapore Conference is mostly concerned with cultures that are secularistic, while the Malaysia Union Mission encompasses Malaysia and Brunei, both of which have a significant Muslim population.
The rationale behind the move is to be able to reach more people in this region, Richli reminded those attending the ceremony. “Our thought is not only about the breadth of the territory but the peculiarity in terms of its richness in culture,” Richli said. “God made all of these things happen in His time. After seven years of preparation, all the prayers and hard work have finally culminated to where we are right now.”
The mission task is extensive and difficult in the area of the new offices. Muslims make up about 61 percent of Malaysia’s population, and the country’s laws strictly prohibit any attempt to engage them. Evangelistic endeavors have become more challenging due to increased religious intolerance in this area over the past 10 years. Finding a legitimate place of worship is another difficulty. Only 9 percent of people identify as Christians, and just 30 percent of people are receptive to conventional evangelism, church leaders said. “It is a true answer to prayer to have this facility house the new Malaysia Union Mission office, which will further the evangelistic effort in this area,” they said.
Roger Caderma and the other executives and directors of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division of the Adventist Church expressed their appreciation for the outstanding achievement made in this area. “Spiritual success depends not on how brilliant a leader’s vision is or how spiritually powerful a leader is, but it rests entirely on the relationship of a leader to his people,” Caderma said.
Malaysia is also home to the Penang Adventist Hospital, a prestigious health institution in Malaysia that is known for bringing holistic (whole-person) health to patients.
The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.