An Adventist Church leader from the Netherlands changed
her plane ticket at the last minute from the Malaysia Airlines jet that
crashed in eastern Ukraine last week, killing all 298 people on board.
The leader, Frieda Souhuwat-Tomasoa, had booked a seat on
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital, Kuala
Lumpur, on July 17, Wim Altink, president of the church’s Netherlands Union
Conference, said Tuesday.
“But since she wanted to arrive at her destination earlier,
she at the last minute changed to a flight a day earlier on Emirates,” Altink
said in an e-mail interview.
Souhuwat-Tomasoa, a member of the Executive Committee of the
Netherlands Union Conference and an elder at her local Adventist church,
Rotterdam-North, was traveling to Ambon, Indonesia, to assist in a United
Nations mandate to reconcile people in an area buffeted by sectarian conflict a
decade ago, he said.
She frequently travels to Ambon, located on Maluku Islands,
just to the east of the island of Sulawesi, as an active participant in the UN
program, he said.
Souhuwat-Tomasoa, who is currently in Moluccas, Indonesia, could not
immediately be reached for comment.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in an area of eastern
Ukraine held by pro-Russia rebels during a regularly scheduled flight. The U.S.
and other Western nations have suggested that the rebels shot down the plane
with a missile supplied by Russia. Russian officials have denied the
accusations and released imagery that they say shows a Ukrainian fighter jet
approaching the airliner shortly before the crash.
Two-thirds of the passengers were Dutch. No Adventists were
on board, said Altink, who has checked the names on the plane’s passenger list
with Adventist leaders in other countries.
In the Netherlands, the Adventist community and the rest of
the country is reeling in shock because nearly everyone knows at least one of
the passengers directly or indirectly, Altink said.
“Our country is mourning,” he said. “The crash has made a
big impact. Everybody is affected.”
Local Adventist leaders prayed for those who lost loved ones
on the plane during a weekly meeting on July 21, the Netherlands Union Conference
said in a statement. Dutch Adventist churches also held special prayers during
worship services last Sabbath.
“We are deeply saddened by the unprecedented suffering
caused by the disaster flight MH017 in eastern Ukraine,” Altink said in the
statement. “We empathize with and pray for God's strength and comfort for all
those affected and the next of kin.”
Contact Adventist Review news editor Andrew McChesney at [email protected].