An extended pastoral tour into a world of its own

Ten days in Asia … Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider’s agenda for Myanmar and Malaysia is chock-full. And the anticipation of the congregations is huge.

Two countries, many cultures, languages, and religions. Over the next ten days, the Chief Apostle will be touring a world of its own. The congregations in this part of the world have been anticipating his visit for a long time. And so has the hosting District Apostle Edy Isnugroho, “We are excited about the visit of the Chief Apostle.” Together with him there are about 1,500 members in both countries who are looking forward to this visit. Seven years ago, Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber was already there. Unforgotten is his message to the brothers and sisters at the time: "Don't give up!"

“We are convinced that the Chief Apostle’s visit this time will create new impulses: for the congregations, for the many souls in the beyond, and for me as a relatively new District Apostle,” says District Apostle Isnugroho. “I believe that the Chief Apostle’s visit will be a great blessing for our countries here.”

Two divine services in Myanmar

Divine service for the departed in Yangon—this will surely go down in the history of the New Apostolic Church in Myanmar. Following a period of military rule that has left wounds that will take some time to heal, the country is slowly beginning to open up. The New Apostolic Church already has 14 congregations with about 750 members in the country.

Chief Apostle Schneider will conduct two divine services in Myanmar: his final service on this trip on 3 November 2019 and a midweek service on Wednesday morning, 30 October 2019. This will take place in Kalay (also called Kalaymyo). It is one of the larger cities in the country with a population of 400,000 and is situated on the border to Chin State, in the west of the country. The Chin people are a major ethnic group. About 90 per cent of Chin are Christians today. Alone in Kalaymyo it is estimated that there are more than 600 Christian congregations. From there, the Chief Apostle will fly to Yangon, the country’s largest city with a population of seven million.

He will start in Malaysia

The Chief Apostle’s first stop on this extended pastoral tour of South-East Asia is Malaysia. Yesterday he arrived in Kuala Lumpur. After a first meeting with ministers and their wives on Saturday, he will conduct a divine service in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, which will be transmitted to congregations in the entire District Apostle Area South-East Asia. On Monday, all the Apostles from the extensive district will come together for a meeting with the Chief Apostle. The New Apostolic Church in Malaysia has 18 congregations with nearly 700 members.

Traditionally, Malaysia consists of two regions, separated by the South China Sea: Peninsular Malaysia (also known as West Malaysia) and East Malaysia, which consists of the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah on the island of Borneo. The population of Malaysia is 32 million with a great diversity of cultures, languages, and religions.

For the Chief Apostle this trip to Malaysia and Myanmar means three meetings for ministers, two concerts, three divine services, six flights, and two time zones (Kuala Lumpur UTC+8, Yangon UTC+6:30).

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Peter Johanning