Southern Asia-Pacific Division Remembers Late Women’s Ministries Leader

Adventist leaders reflect on her life devoted to ministry and service.

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review
Southern Asia-Pacific Division Remembers Late Women’s Ministries Leader
Heather-Dawn Small (center) with women’s ministries leaders from eight divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church during the 61st General Conference Session in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, in June 2022. [Photo: courtesy of Virgie Baloyo]

On January 2, 2024, the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church received disheartening news about the passing of Heather Dawn-Small, 66, a revered leader and women’s ministries director.

Her passing has left a significant void in the hearts of the Seventh-day Adventist community across the region. Her unwavering faith and profound impact on the lives she touched will be greatly remembered.

Small’s commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist Church manifested through her distinguished 18-year tenure as the General Conference women’s ministries director, a position to which she was re-elected in 2022. Roger Caderma, president of SSD, joins the global church in expressing heartfelt condolences to the Small family, recognizing and honoring her tireless service and devotion to ministry.

“We are extremely saddened by the loss of a truly exceptional leader,” Caderma said. “Mrs. Small’s life has left a lasting impact on the hearts of all women in the Southern Asia-Pacific region. Her legacy, forged through years of dedicated service, will forever be etched in the collective memory of those fortunate enough to have known her. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Small family during this challenging time. May the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit envelop them, providing solace, and may the promise of God’s imminent return be a source of strength and hope as we anticipate the glorious and blessed day ahead.”

Small’s impact in the Southern Asia-Pacific region is deeply felt. Her passion for empowering women resonated with Virgie Baloyo, SSD women’s ministry director. Baloyo expressed her profound sadness, describing Small as an inspiration to women in the region. Small participated in various women’s initiatives, forging connections with female leaders and encouraging them to utilize their God-given skills and talents to share the gospel message with the world.

“For almost two decades, she was our visionary, creative, and dynamic spiritual leader. Truth, beauty, and Christ-centered,” Baloyo said. “Her inspirational talks and the resources on the women’s ministry website reflect these marks. She carefully improved the works of her predecessors. Her leadership was motherly and sisterly, calling those around her ‘darling.’

“Heather-Dawn Small was always empowering, inspiring, and mentoring to bring forth a better generation of women leaders and disciples,” Baloyo added. “Joy was her byword; her mantra was, ‘Don’t let anyone steal your joy.’ Behind the radiant smile was a lifetime of overcoming her own physical and emotional battles. She will now rest in Jesus.”

Small was “big” in many ways, in faith, leadership, and ideas, Baloyo commented. “She will be sorely and deeply missed.”

Small’s legacy in the SSD extends beyond her capacity; she was a beacon of strength and encouragement for women seeking to make a meaningful impact within the Adventist community. Her passion for community engagement, coupled with her focus on evangelism, has left an indelible mark on the region, reminding us of the transformative power of faith and dedication.

The original version of this commentary was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review