Coronavirus claims life of Adventist pastor in Indonesia

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Adventist churches in the Southern Asia-Pacific region unites in prayer to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic

April 01, 2020
/ Manilla, Philippines
/ Edward Rodriguez, SSD Communication


Coronavirus claims life of Adventist pastor in Indonesia

Indonesia political map

[Getty Images]

Sabbath School and Personal Ministries director of the Jakarta Conference in Indonesia, Biner Silalahi, has died of the coronavirus. The cause of death was confirmed by the local health authority, a week after Silalahi’s death on March 23, 2020.

He is the first employee of the Adventist Church who has died of the Covid-19 in the Southern Asia-Pacific (SSD) region. Earlier reports from the Adventist News Network and Adventist Review confirmed one Adventist member in China and another in London to be fatalities of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Silalahi served the Seventh-day Adventist church in West Indonesia region in different capacities. He served as a church pastor in 1987 in Medan Veterans Church, after which he served as church pastor in Malaka Jaya Church until 2010. He was then called to serve as an associate director for Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department in 2010 and eventually became the director of the same department in 2011 and served until his death. 

Leaders inside SSD say Silalahi had been an inspiration to his family and colleagues. His passion to bring the message to the forefront had been his commitment since he started ministry in the denomination. To those who know him, his legacy will never be forgotten.

Silalahi is blessed with a lovely wife, Hotma Roulina Manik, and their marriage was gifted with four wonderful children.

Currently, Indonesian government has not issue any lockdown in any of its cities. However, the government strongly advised social distancing between individuals. Local health authorities also reiterated to the public the need to stay at home, should there be any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and to personally conduct 14-day quarantine to avoid the spread of the disease.  

David Panjaitan, Communication director of the Adventist church in West Indonesia region communicated that work from home was also implemented by the government. Social gatherings, including church services, will be prohibited until April 19 in some areas of West Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta.

Digital Evangelism comes into picture

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought many Adventists out of their comfort zones and forced them to think of creative ways to continue the mission online.

Local churches and Adventist groups have spread online, conducting bible study webinars, prayer chains, and live talks. 

On March 21, the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) Youth Department initiated a one-hour prayer live stream. The live stream showcased different stories of faith, compassion, and persistence, especially in times of crisis. 

Ron Genebago, Adventist youth director of the Southern Asia-Pacific region, in one of his segments, invited everyone to take time to pray and commune with the Lord while we battle this disease.

“Now, more than ever, is the best time for all of us to pray,” Genebago said. “As we pray together, we are reminded that through prayer, impossible things happen and it brings us to a realization that in good times and in tough times, our Lord listens.”

100 Days of Prayer

The Seventh-day Adventist Church launched the 100 Days of Prayer campaign from March 27-July 4, 2020. This initiative looks to bring encouragement to church members, so that in the last days the Holy Spirit will be given as a gift to the church. This happened right as man are gripped with the fear of COVID-19. This reminds everyone that prayer and Bible Studies are some of the ways we can seek strength and leading to overcome this crisis.

While social distancing prohibits us to come together and congregate in prayer, this 100 Days of Prayer can be done remotely in our respective households, together with our family and friends. 

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