“The tasks awaiting the new District Apostle Hebeisen in leading this extensive district church will not be easy. May he work with much wisdom and love so that the children of God in this region are well looked after” This was the wish of the Chief Apostle, ending a circular addressed to all Apostles in which he informed them of the events and changes in Indonesia.The regional church of South East Asia, under District Apostle Urs Hebeisen and established since 18 January 2009, covers a region that is almost as vast as the Russian Federation. The 18 countries that the district church is comprised of have a population of nearly two billion, about a third of the world’s population. In addition to this, South East Asia is characterised by great religious diversity. One finds adherents of all the world religions in this part of the world. This diversity came into being over the centuries as the region developed more and more into a centre of trade and commerce.
Buddhism and Islam have the largest following. One also finds Hinduism, Christianity, Confucianism, and numerous traditional systems of belief.
With its 240 million followers, Buddhism represents one of the greatest religions in this region. It is above all widespread and the dominant religion in Thailand, in Myanmar (formerly Burma), Laos and Vietnam.
Christianity in South East Asia is especially wide spread in the Philippines. But thanks to the Christian missionaries, Christian minorities are also present in particular in Indonesia and in Vietnam.
Hinduism is the dominant religion on the Indonesian island of Bali; in other parts of South East Asia there are small minorities of Hindus. Islam is the most dominant religion by far in Indonesia. Some 81 per cent of the population profess Islam, making it the country with the greatest number of Muslims worldwide. The Sultanate of Brunei and Malaysia too have large Muslim populations, about 67 and 61 per cent respectively. In the south of the Philippines and in southern Thailand as well as in the west of Myanmar there exists a Muslim minority. Of the approximately 200 million people in the region who profess Islam some 95 per cent live in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Adherents of Confucianism are found in particular among people of Chinese origin, who constitute the majority of the population of the Republic of Singapore, a city state. Confuciansim is also strongly represented in Malaysia.
In comparison to all this the New Apostolic Church is truly a small flock in this region. About 150,000 people profess the New Apostolic faith in this melting pot of nations and beliefs. Some 4,300 ministers provide pastoral care for them. The brothers and sisters gather in some 2,000 congregations throughout the region. District Apostle Urs Hebeisen is assisted by ten Apostles.