No more Sabbath classes for nursing students in Bangladesh

News November 13, 2016

Seventh-day Adventist students who wish to become nurses will no longer face a Sabbath conflict with the opening of the church’s first nursing school in Bangladesh in January.

Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson joined other church leaders in cutting the red ribbon Friday at a dedication ceremony for the three-story facility that will house the Bangladesh Adventist Nursing School at Bangladesh Adventist Seminary and College in Gowalbathan Kaliakoir, a town located a two-hour drive from the country’s capital, Dhaka.

The school, which was funded in part by a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering, intends to enroll 50 students initially and later expand to 100 students.

“This place will send hundreds of missionaries all over this vast and mighty country, and it will be a blessing from heaven,” Wilson said after cutting the ribbon. “May God bless this nursing college.”

The new nursing building — with 10 classrooms, four laboratories, a conference room, and other facilities — received $150,000 of its $400,000 price tag from a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering given by church members worldwide in the third quarter of 2015, said Dr. Chongo Ho Yang, president of the Bangladesh Adventist Seminary and College. Another $100,000 came from the Adventist Church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division, whose territory of 14 countries includes Bangladesh, and the rest came from individual donors in South Korea.

Saw Samuel, president of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, described the establishment of the nursing school as a remarkable accomplishment that would not have been possible without the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering.

“This is a milestone,” Saw said in an interview. “This is the first Adventist health training institute in Bangladesh.”

The school also offers local Adventist students the opportunity to study nursing in their own country.

“It is really important for our school here in Bangladesh to be able to have a school of nursing because there is no place where an Adventist young person can go to school to take nursing without having to go to school on Sabbath,” Kevin Costello, an associate executive secretary at the division, said on the sidelines of the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Now we will finally have a facility that will be open and available for them so they can get a nursing degree and honor God on the Sabbath as well.”

The school is preparing to open at a time when church members are finding that their neighbors are increasingly open to hearing the Adventist health message. Medical missionary work and other health-care services could provide a path forward in communities that largely disdain Christianity, said Narottom Bayen, a retired missionary who served the church for 35 years in remote areas of Bangladesh.

“We conducted one-month tent meetings in my day, but they are no longer possible in Bangladesh,” said Bayen, 86. “If we had health centers and hospitals, maybe more people would know about the work of Jesus and the Adventist Church. We need to find new techniques to spread the good news. We cannot do it as we did in the past.”

Church leaders on Friday also cut the ribbon at the grand opening of a new dormitory for nursing students and a new home for the school’s dean. Ribbons were also cut at two other buildings on campus: an auditorium and an apartment complex for retired church workers with incomes of less than $50 a month. The facility for retired church workers currently has five apartments, but plans are in place to expand it to 75 apartments. The openings came as the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Bangladesh celebrated 110 years in the country.

“May these buildings represent God’s Holy Spirit working on the hearts of young people on this campus: people being revived and reformed by God’s power, and young people and old people ready to serve though Total Member Involvement,” Wilson said in a speech to more than 1,200 people assembled in the new auditorium.