A Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor in Jakarta, Indonesia, was confirmed to have died of complications due to COVID-19. Information was confirmed by local health authorities, a week after his death on March 23, 2020. He was placed under PUI (Person Under Investigation) while confined in the hospital, local officials reported. No name or other personal information were available at press time.
The reported death is believed to be the first COVID-19 church-member casualty within the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) church region. Earlier reports from Adventist Review confirmed the death of at least one Adventist member in China, another one in the United Kingdom, and several in Spain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, the Indonesian government has not issued any lockdown in any of its cities. However, the government strongly advises social distancing between individuals. Local health authorities also reiterated to the public the need to stay at home should they show signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and, in those cases, to engage in 14-day quarantine to avoid the spread of the disease.
David Panjaitan, communication director of the Adventist Church in the West Indonesia region, shared that the government also implemented mandatory work-from-home measures and that social gatherings, including church services, are prohibited until April 19, 2020, in some areas of West Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta.
The Role of Digital Evangelism
The advent of COVID-19 has brought Adventists members to thinking of creative ways to continue their mission online.
More local churches and Adventist groups have been appearing online almost every day, conducting Bible study webinars, prayer chains, and live talks.
On March 21, the SSD Youth Department launched a one-hour prayer live stream. The live stream showcased stories of faith, compassion, and persistence, especially in times of crisis.
In one of the segments, Ron Genebago, SSD youth director, invited everyone to take time to pray and commune with the Lord while we battle this disease.
“Now, more than ever, is the best time for all of us to pray,” Genebago said. “As we pray together, we are reminded that through prayer, impossible things happen, and it brings us to a realization that in good times and in tough times, our Lord listens.”
100 Days of Prayer
The Seventh-day Adventist world church launched 100 Days of Prayer from March 27 through July 4, 2020. Regional church leaders reported that the initiative had brought encouragement to church members, who believe that, in the last days, the Holy Spirit will be given as a gift to the church.
“This happens right in time when people are gripped with the fear of the coronavirus. It is something that reminds everyone that through prayer, we acknowledge that it is the only avenue in which we can seek strength and leading to overcome this crisis,” leaders said.
Leaders also called on members to make the most of this opportunity.
“While social distancing prevents us from coming together and congregating in prayer, this 100 Days of Prayer can be done remotely in our respective households, together with our family or with our friends,” they said.