17 March 2022

The scenic island country of Sri Lanka was chosen as the destination for the Asia Apostle meeting in March 2022. Having been through an incredibly difficult time during the pandemic and subsequently experiencing serious economic challenges, the New Apostolic community of this island nation were overjoyed to hear that the Chief Apostle along with other Apostles from Asia and Australia would be visiting their home country.  Although this was the ninety-ninth country he visited as Chief Apostle, it was his first time in Sri Lanka.

United in Christ

Overall, 29 delegates from various countries and continents came together to brainstorm important issues, specifically relevant to the Asian region. These meetings and workshops were spread over four days and were held at the ‘Hilton Colombo’. Our Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider was joined by three District Apostles, twenty-two Apostles, one District Evangelist (who would be ordained as an Apostle for Indonesia) and three administrative staff. The only disappointment was that the Apostles from China and Papua New Guinea could not be present due to various restrictions.

Prior to the arrival of our Chief Apostle on the 12th of March, the Apostles from various regions set up meetings to share specific challenges faced in their respective regions, opening the way for more concrete exchanges on possible solutions.

Learning about OASYS

The Apostles from Pakistan, Canada, India, Indonesia and the staff in Sri Lanka attended a two-day workshop to introduce ‘OASYS’ (Overseas Administration System). Robert Maier, (Project coordinator for Canada), supported by Pr. Leonhardt Gunnar (Systems Engineer from NAKI, Switzerland), focused on OASYS as a versatile tool to help the Regional Churches of the New Apostolic Church worldwide. This tool manages the structure (Apostle Areas, Districts, and Congregations), the ministers and their leadership functions, as well as the members of a Regional Church. It also faciliates the processing of vouchers for attendance, offerings and reconciliation. The ministers present were able to explore and learn more about some of these functions while those who were familiar with OASYS shared their experiences, and discussed its pros and cons.

Apostles Meeting and Workshops

On Saturday March 12, 2022, our Chief Apostle began the day with prayer before a workshop for the Apostles commenced. The main agenda for the workshop was to find solutions to common challenges faced by the Apostles and to focus on bringing a clear understanding of ‘God’s Plan of Salvation’ to the disciples of Jesus Christ, and to those ministering to this end.

Our Chief Apostle also spent a few hours addressing other questions among the Apostles, including the current position on the role of women in ministry. Although there is no immediate solution, an awareness was created to contemplate these challenges and to approach them with necessary adjustments.

Sharing Culture Through Faith

To end the day, the Sunday School Children of Sri Lanka entertained their guests to a cultural program. Children dressed as a Sinhalese king and queen of a bygone era welcomed our Chief Apostle and his entourage with ‘betel leaves’ as a mark of respect and auspicious beginnings. With traditional attire, the children then put up an excellent performance in showcasing the various traditions, cultures, costumes, dance forms and dialects of the country.

They also represented the major communities of Sri Lanka which are tribals, Buddhist, Mslims, Tamilians, Sinhalese, Burgher (a combination of Portuguese and Dutch who later were called Christians). Our Chief Apostle appropriately linked this into his sermon the next day when he spoke about God’s will to save all of mankind. The cultural performances culminated with the National Anthem of Sri Lanka.

Travel Experience of Youth Volunteers

The days leading up to the Divine Service with the Chief Apostle was a time of selfless volunteering for ten Indian youth who took this opportunity to travel to Sri Lanka at their own expense and support their Sri Lankan brethren in the activities surrounding the event.

While the Apostles were engaged in discussions at the meetings, the youth took some time to explore the city and the ancient history surrounding it. They enjoyed the mouthwatering food with local tropical spices, the alluring architecture and the engaging sights and sounds of the city which had them spellbound.

Their support and contribution as volunteers to the event was invaluable for both them as well as the teams in Sri Lanka. They supported aspects of the Divine Service set up, webcast, media and wherever else they could extend their help and support.

Ending the Journey with a Trip to the  Historic Town of Kandy

On Monday the 14th of March 2022, the day after the Divine Service, the Chief Apostle and his party boarded a special train to Kandy. The four-hour journey passed through rolling plains into mountainous terrain, burrowing its way through the hills and exposing the scenic beauty of this ‘emerald island’.  

After arriving in Kandy, the group headed for a local sightseeing tour which took up the rest of the day. The following day a visit was arranged to “The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic”, also called “Sri Dalada Maligawa”, a Buddhist temple located in the royal palace complex. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics. Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhalese kings and is a UNESCO world heritage site partly due to this temple.

After scouting around the marketplace for local wares, it was time for the Apostles to board the train back to Colombo, bid farewell and head to the airport for their flights back home. A memorable event and a time of great fellowship came to an end and was now cemented into history.