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Adventists in Bangladesh celebrate 110 years of growth with a blend of the past and future

Recognition of pioneers and inauguration of new College of Nursing are weekend highlights

The Seventh-day Adventist Church of Bangladesh celebrated its 110th anniversary on November 11-12, 2016 with pageantry, the inauguration of a new educational building, a book dedication, and a historical moment for world church President Ted Wilson.

The festivities began on Friday morning, November 11, with a colorful welcome ceremony on the campus of Bangladesh Adventist Seminary and College (BASC) located approximately 45 kilometers northwest of Dhaka, the capital city. The afternoon featured the inaugurations of a multipurpose auditorium, a nursing students’ hostel or dormitory, a faculty residence, a senior citizens’ residential area and the College of Nursing, a 13th Sabbath offering recipient for third-quarter 2015. “This weekend is the culmination of many prayers, much work, and selfless contributions by many,” said Dr. Chong Ho Yang, BASC president.  Reflecting on the future impact of the College of Nursing, he added, “We will train and educate our young people for a solid Adventist education and for the mission of the church. Please pray for 160 million people in Bangladesh and beyond to be touched by our nurses' qualified, committed, and consecrated services so that many may know the Great Healer!" 

Ted Wilson, Adventist world church president, leads a group of distinguished guests in the ribbon cutting at the inauguration of the newly built Young Ja Han Auditorium in the campus of the Bangladesh Adventist Seminary and College, November 11. This event was during the 110th anniversary celebration of the Adventist church in Bangladesh on November 11-12. [photo courtesy of BAUM/Stanly Barua]

During the inauguration, Wilson commented on the impressive buildings by noting that it takes wisdom and resources to build, but that those who attend gatherings there “are the treasures in the building.” More than 1,200 of these treasures crowded into the auditorium the next day. The first part of the morning featured historical videos and a dedicatory ceremony for two books. One book details the history of the Adventist church in Bangladesh while the other features 110 original poems commemorating the anniversary by the daughter of an early pioneer.  It was a special moment for Mrinal Halder, editor of the historical compilation. “Previously, we didn’t have our historical documents in one place but now in this book we do. We can see how carefully and lovingly God led our growth since 1895. During the months of compilation, writing and editing, it was so inspiring to me personally to read the accounts of the Adventist work in Bangladesh. I learned how much the pioneers worked and sacrificed in their lives while trusting God to provide.” 

This emphasis on trust amidst the challenges was echoed during the church service. Although it extended well into the afternoon, the crowd was intent to hear the children’s story from Nancy Wilson and the sermon from Elder Wilson as it was the Wilsons’ first visit to Bangladesh.  In his sermon, Wilson compared the experiences of church members past and present to those of the Israelites as God led them to explore and enter Canaan in Numbers 13 and Joshua 3.  “So many times God leads you here in Bangladesh through difficult situations in your personal lives; things seem to be unclear,” Wilson shared. “But God wants to do something special in your life and in the church in Bangladesh so that you will look at what was done, what God has done for 110 years in Bangladesh, and what He is doing right now. And you will have no question whether it was you who did it or God who did it because He wants you to say, ‘Glory be to God.’ May that be your response for the celebration of 110 years.” 

The overall mood of the weekend was one of remembrance for the sacrifices of the first believers and the work of the pioneers who were integral to the development of the church over the years. Yet there was also a strong sense of the challenge to find new ways to carry on the inspiring legacy that had been given.

Later that evening, Wilson and his wife Nancy added to their family’s legacy in Bangladesh. They inaugurated a new library for the Dhaka Adventist Pre-Seminary School on the grounds of the Bangladesh Union Mission (BAUM) headquarters. This is the same campus where Wilson’s father, then General Conference President Neal C. Wilson, laid the foundation stone of the original school building on November 14, 1984.

The symbolism of the next generation building upon the work of the previous is significant to Myun Ju Lee, BAUM president. “This weekend is our time to remember the pioneers and missionaries who devoted themselves to the work God called them to do here in Bangladesh,” he said. “It is also a time to challenge our church members, young and old, to dedicate themselves to fulfill the Great Commission by Total Member Involvement.  As Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson encouraged all of us during the divine worship, we are no more grasshoppers but giants in faith. We have many challenges here in Bangladesh, but God will help us to overcome all the obstacles, for He is our mighty God.”

 [Teresa Costello]

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