The first Year-end Meeting of the Sri Lanka Mission of Seventh-day Adventists (SLM) to take place since its inclusion in the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) was held December 14-15 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The meeting brought together NSD and Southern Asia-Pacific Division leaders, including NSD president Yo Han Kim, secretary Hiroshi Yamaji, treasurer Tae Seung Kim, and communication director Seong Jun Byun. From the SSD, president Roger Caderma and treasurer Jacinth Adap attended. They met with SLM president Jerry C. Patalinghug, secretary E. A. R. K. Emerson, and treasurer Anthony J. Francis.
Sri Lanka’s population is 70 percent Buddhist, 12.6 percent Hindu, 9.7 percent Muslim, and 7.4 percent Christian. The Southeast Asian nation is currently facing economic challenges exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, the SLM Mission, with 39 churches and 3,919 members, is navigating these challenging times with faith and a purposeful focus on the return of Christ, regional church leaders said.
In particular, SLM is involved in providing resources for the local community, leaders reported. It operates four schools, a hospital, and a publishing house, with the goal of raising up members committed to missions and supporting the needs of more people in the community by 2024.
Before the start of the Year-end Meeting, SSD church leaders officially transferred SLM authority to NSD officers. Caderma handed over a large key to Kim, signifying the transition of leadership authority over the region. After the ceremony, institutional reports were presented from the church institutions across the SLM, as well as comprehensive reports from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) on the state of projects across the country.
The SLM Education Department reported that school enrollment, which had been reduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, is rebounding, and the department anticipates a better outlook for 2024. The resilience shown by these institutions demonstrates their commitment to providing high-quality education despite adversity, regional church leaders said. They also commented on the ratio of Adventist students within these institutions, noting that while the percentage of Adventists is still small, there is steady growth, indicating the potential for expansion in the Sri Lankan educational institutions.
The PARL Department reported on challenges facing the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sri Lanka due to national examinations held on Saturday (Sabbath). Denominational representatives are seeking prayers and attention as they continue discussions with the government on the issue of Sabbath-keeping, leaders said.
Reports from various departments, including the communication department and Adventist Mission, followed. Each departmental director emphasized the role of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sri Lanka to continue serving the community and contributing to society through sacrifice, leaders reported.
Kim reminded SLM delegates of their special calling. “We are a specially chosen people for the mission. It is our mission to spread this good news,” Kim said. He emphasized “faith over human effort” and encouraged attendees to be leaders and people of faith who understand the times and respond to challenges.
Following the meeting, NSD leaders began their institutional visits, including to the Lakpahana Adventist College and Seminary, which recently turned 100. “You are the hope and future of our Adventist Church,” Yamaji told students, faculty, and staff. “Please continue to learn and grow in the wisdom of Jesus Christ.”
Despite economic challenges, the SLM is committed to serving and sacrificing for its community as part of the mission of the Adventist Church, regional church leaders emphasized. “Sri Lanka’s inclusion in the NSD brings many expectations and challenges, but with God’s help, we will be able to fulfill the great commission that Jesus has given to us,” they said.