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again the Asian Baptist Women’s Union (ABWU) came together – this time for its 11th assembly celebrating its
Golden Jubilee in the great city where it began.
There were 13 countries represented: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea,
Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. There were 1,700 women in attendance
representing 23 national women’s conventions/unions out of the 30 that are members of ABWU.
It was an exciting time as the women gathered at the Science City Convention Center in Kolkata for the assembly
themed, “Receive, Rejoice, Reach Out.” Dorothy Selebano, president of the BWA Women’s Department, was the
keynote speaker.
“‘Receive, Rejoice, Reach Out’ is really the theme of this year, indeed of this age. We are here to celebrate
the beauty of the Lord Jesus,” said Selebano. “I’d like you to know that each and every person who is here is
important – important to Jesus as an individual because we are here to do what God has called us to do. You
have to stretch out and invite Jesus into your life. To receive is to find peace.”
Chiyo Murakami, president of ABWU, Atola Subong, vice president, Sonia Silbor, secretary, and Latika Paul,
treasurer, worked hard in preparing a program where the women would receive the word of God, rejoice in
diversity, and reach out to each other and the world.
“Women of ABWU have been given an assignment,” said Murakami. “We, who have been graced with
forgiveness through the cross of Christ, and have been blessed with the joy of new life through the hope of the
resurrection, have been called to follow Him in obedience. We have been commissioned with the task of reaching
out to our generation with this forgiveness and joy. Women of ABWU have received the Lord’s command to love
and serve our neighbor. We are called to service, we are called to prayer, and we are called to share the Good
News.”
Many of the former ABWU officers were present to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. Mercy Jeyaraja Rao, one of
the founding members of ABWU, and Murakami cut the anniversary cake. Rao then brought the message which
reminded us that in 1958 the world was still recovering from World War II.
“Several of us came with deep scars from bitter experiences of those years,” said Rao. “Needless to say,
there were anxious moments as to how such a coming together would be faced. God’s love enveloped us. We
received each other with open arms; we rejoiced because we were God’s family; and we reached out to hold
each other’s hands and said with sincerity, we are sorry . . . we love you . . . forgive us.”
At the ABWU business session, new officers were elected. Shook Jae Lee from Korea was elected president
and Ofelia Caalin from the Philippines was elected treasurer. Other new officers are Sophia Shou Ping Yu from
Taiwan and Judity Milita Das from Bangladesh.
Lepmonie Sangma, president of the India Baptist Women’s Union and chairperson of local arrangements,
and her team did an outstanding job with all of the local arrangements. On the last night of the assembly, they
provided a special Indian night celebration where everyone enjoyed Indian cuisine, cultural delights, and fun and
fellowship.

Photos: Mercy Jeyaraja Rao, a founding member of ABWU, and Dorothy Selebano, president of the BWA Women’s Department;
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