Wilson affirms Indonesia president’s religious freedom commitment

News February 19, 2013

In a meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Seventh-day Adventist Church president Pastor Ted N. C. Wilson affirmed the nation’s goal of upholding religious freedom in the Southeast Asian country.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute in this country, and I am grateful to the president for the religious freedom granted to groups in Indonesia,” Wilson said to a press corps after a meeting with the president on February 12.

Wilson told reporters that he was impressed with Indonesia’s rising economic growth, but that President Yudhoyono “is also aware of the need to do more things” for his people. “The church is committed to helping in any way possible, socially, mentally, physically, and, of course, spiritually,” Wilson said.

The two leaders met at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Base near Jakarta.

Wilson visited Indonesia last week at the request of local church officials to celebrate the long history of the Adventist Church’s service in the country. The Adventist Church operates several healthcare organizations and schools in Indonesia. More than 100,000 patients are served annually through four hospitals, and approximately 40,000 students are enrolled in 372 schools.

There are roughly 250,000 Adventist Church members in Indonesia, where the majority population is Muslim.

During his visit, Wilson helped inaugurate a new wing of the Manado Adventist Hospital on February 15. The new three-story facility provides an additional 55 beds in the hospital, which first opened in 2008.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the governor of the North Sulawesi Province, Sinyo Harry Sarundayang, said the additional facility was a response to primary health development goals of increasing longevity, reducing the infant mortality rate and reducing the prevalence of malnutrition.

“Optimizing private hospitals is our priority,” Sarundayang said. “Manado Adventist Hospital is a representation of strengthening community health resources and becomes the right answer to continuous development of welfare,” he said.

The provincial government pledged US$400,000 for radio-diagnostic equipment and a new ambulance unit.

The hospital has grown to employ 265 people, up from 25 employees when it opened five years ago.

On February 13, Wilson visited Bandung Adventist Hospital, which is located about 90 miles southeast of Jakarta, and considered one of the top hospitals in West Java. Founded in 1950, it now has 230 beds and employs 700 people. A new $7 million building facility was inaugurated last year.

Wilson also visited Indonesian Adventist University in Bandung, which was first opened in 1929. He helped to dedicate ground for the construction of a new science center, and later addressed an assembly in the university’s Alumni Center.

“You are an important part of the worldwide Adventist education process,” Wilson told a group of 2,000 faculty, staff and students. “You may seek knowledge of science and philosophy and all other bodies of knowledge, but remember that the foundation of all true knowledge is the knowledge of God,” he said.

The Adventist Church also operates hospitals in Bandar Lampung and Medan.

Wilson was joined on the trip by his wife, Nancy; Alberto Gulfan, president of the Adventist Church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division; Joseph Peranginangin, president of the West Indonesia Union; Noldy Sakul, president of the East Indonesia Union; and Retired Army Lieutenant General T. B. Silalahi, who is a supporter of the Adventist Church.