Saskia Walden became the first Seventh-day Adventist in Suriname to be appointed as a cabinet official to the new head of state and head of government President Chandrikapersad Santokhi. Walden was sworn in as the Minister of Economic Affairs, Entrepreneurship and Technological Innovation, during a special ceremony of the National Assembly, at Independence Square, in Paramaribo, Suriname, on July 16, 2020.
Minister Walden, a native of Suriname and a member of the Central Adventist Church in Paramaribo, has served the church throughout the Caribbean Union, and Europe for several years in various capacities. She was prayed for by President of the Church in Suriname Pastor Edward Blackman during a televised swearing in session among other new cabinet members and government leaders.
“We congratulate you on this memorable day and wish you a lot of insight, wisdom, mostly courage and discernment to do your work with honor,” said Blackman. “A very known quotation within our fellowship of believers, which you have certainly heard of is the following: ‘We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.’”*
Devoted to God and the church
Pastor Blackman read Isaiah 41:10 and Numbers 6:24-26, as he pronounced a prayer of blessing for a successful period for Walden as a minister in Suriname. “I know her responsibilities will not be easy but we are including her in our prayers and her colleagues in the government as well,” he said. Blackman, a fellow Surinamese and friend of Minister Walden, said she has grown in the church and been very active throughout the years. “This was big news in the Adventist Church,” he said.
According to Blackman, several church members have made it to leadership positions in parliament in the past but none had reached the level of presidential cabinet member. “She is a leader, goes for her goals and achieves them,” he said.
Pastor Reinder Bruinsma, former president of the Netherlands Union Conference, in the Netherlands, remembers her as devoted to her God and her church. Walden served as treasurer of the conference from 2003-2005, during Bruinsma’s administration. “I got to know her quite well and have very good memories of that time.” Church leaders there had hoped she would have stayed longer but her visa and work permit cut her time in office short.
“I am really not very surprised that in the years since she was with us she built a successful career in Suriname and that she has now been selected for a high national office,” said Bruinsma. “We are very proud to know her!”
Minister Walden is an accounting expert with over 15 years international work experience and has led her own consulting firm in Suriname for more than 15 years.
Her church service experience also includes two years as senior teacher responsible for business curriculum at the St. Lucia Adventist Academy in Castries, Saint Lucia; as well many years as a student literature evangelist throughout Trinidad & Tobago.