12 March 2022

The Divine Service with our Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider in Sri Lanka was held at our church in Mattakkuliya in the capital city of Colombo on Sunday, March 13, 2022. He was joined by three District Apostles, twenty-two Apostles and one District Evangelist (who would be ordained as an Apostle for Indonesia) and welcomed by the children of the congregation.


The bible text for the service was taken from Hebrews 4:14-15… “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” The choir who had practiced for many months for the event helped create a serene atmosphere for the Divine Service. The service was simultaneously translated into Tamil from the alter and into Sinhalese via headphones.


Strengthening Hope through the Living Word

The Chief Apostle chose this text to serve as a reminder of the greatness of our High Priest, Jesus Christ. This is because Jesus understands our weaknesses and temptations, for He too was tempted in every way and yet without sin. The audience was reminded that Jesus is not just a distant figure, but a compassionate and loving High Priest who shares in our struggles. He is able to sympathize with our needs and provides for us in our daily lives. When we face difficulties or hardships, we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus has overcome evil and that He loves us.


Supporting Each Other in Faith

The congregation was also encouraged to persevere in faith, even when the Lord’s return seems far away. Through Jesus, we have access to eternal life and, as we prepare ourselves for it, are called to fight against sin. We can do this by staying connected to the fellowship of believers and to participate in the Divine Services. We are also called to support one another and to pray for our ministers, as the ministry is essential for our salvation. By hearing the living word of God and receiving spiritual food, we are strengthened in our faith.


Special Sacraments 

As part of his ministration, our Chief Apostle also served our brothers and Sisters in the yonder world. Apostle Fred Marihal from India and Apostle Gilbert Halder from Bangladesh served as proxies to receive the sacraments on behalf of those in the beyond. These acts are rooted in the belief that the work of the Holy Spirit through the sacraments can help in transforming us and those who have gone before us into the image of God. Another special act at the Divine Service was the ordination of District Evangelist Aris Kusnandar from Indonesia who was ordained as an Apostle.


Virtually Connected, Spiritually United 

Apart from being the first visit of the Chief Apostle Jean Luc Schneider to Sri Lanka, it was also the first time that a Divine Service was being streamed and transmitted via live webcast from Sri Lanka. Volunteers from India came in to make sure that the limited facilities produced the desired result. Several locations in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. were the beneficiaries of this effort. While the venue for the Divine Service had an attendance of 526, another 1200 members were able to connect via live webcast, and around 2000 individuals and families joined in from their homes via ‘YouTube’. Projectors in spill-over halls also enabled members to see and hear the Chief Apostle on a big screen. The back-end technical teams across all the locations worked diligently and ensured a great experience for all.


Saying Goodbye

After the service, our Chief Apostle, District Apostles and the other Apostles present greeted the members with social distancing. The traditional ‘Namasthe’ or Ayobuwan’ was the perfect way to do so. Throughout the service, these social distancing guidelines were followed by the members under the guidance of local volunteers to ensure a safe and joyful experience for all.

A fellowship meal was also organized for the congregation who had gathered from all over the country. This gave the members some more time to meet and greet each other. As the end of the afternoon approached, it was difficult to say goodbye as everyone wanted to spend some more time with all the Apostles. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and the members had to bid adieu to each other. Although there was sadness in having to part, they could take back a full heart and a renewed spirit from the many joyful and meaningful exchanges they were able to experience.