I begin this letter in the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris waiting for a transfer back to Brussels. The past few days in the “good ol’ USA” were special.
Rev. William O. Vickery, Northern California/Nevada District Superintendent, invited me to be one of the two speakers at the annual Prayer and Fasting Conference. What a challenge! What an experience! We sensed God’s presence in His Word, and the leaders of our District witnessed to God’s grace working in all of our lives.
It was my special joy to be with Bro. Vickery before his change of ministry as District Superintendent. Both Carmen and I will miss him and his wife, Ernestine, in their leadership. Their ministry is not finished. Only the forms and locations will change!
The Pastor’s Leadership School was attended by over 60 pastors. It was a time of training and inspiration. At the end of the Conference the pastors committed themselves to start two new churches this year. Since that time, the first has already been established and the second is in progress.
The Eastern European Conference, held in Osijek, had representation from all of the eastern bloc nations except Albania. What a surprise to also see pastors from our District! Conference speakers included Bro. Loren Triplett, our Director for World Missions, as well as Jerry Parsley, our Field Director.
The testimonies and reports by the pastors and leaders of God’s work in the eastern countries were inspiring and gratifying. God is still on His throne! What a thrill to hear songs sung in many different languages yet with one Spirit in praise and adoration to our God! While attending the Conference I had the privilege of preaching to inmates both in a men’s and a women’s prison.
Following the Conference many of the “foreign” delegates (pastors from the US) went with national pastors and leaders back to their countries for ministry. The reports of God’s poured out Spirit were again a testimony to God’s sovereign work in response to man’s need. My schedule then led me to Greece.
The time of ministry in the Church in Athens was touched by God. It was also a joy to bring encouragement and share in fellowship with God’s servants in Greece. Pray that the available open doors of ministry will find willing laborers to that first European nation in Paul’s missionary journeys.
Two days after returning home from Greece, I left for a Pastor’s Leadership School in these Spanish islands. We were tired when we arrived and more tired when we left. However, we sensed God’s presence in the teaching sessions, in our times of encouragement and fellowship with God’s servants there, and in the response by the people in the churches.
The work is going through some transition and the Bible Institute will have new leadership in the fall. Pray that the Lord will send laborers to the islands that do not have established Gospel-preaching churches, and for the leadership in their training of pastors and leaders.
After arriving home Friday night, Carmen and I left for Holland early the next morning to attend an “ICI Day”. The day was committed to teach students already enrolled with ICI, pastors, and others who would be interested in further study through ICI. The national ICI directors and their team had planned and executed a day worth remembering. The Lord enriched His Word, and several indicated interest in further study.
Also in March, our annual spiritual retreat for the Benelux (Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland) missionaries was held. Dr. G. Raymond Carlson, our General Superintendent, was the main speaker. What graciousness, insight into God’s Word, and spiritual blessings flowed. Nathan and Stephen came with us. Meetings were planned especially for them. They enjoyed fellowship and fun with the other missionary kids (MKs)!
After such a hectic schedule of ministry, I was refreshed both spiritually and physically … “just what the doctor ordered”. I was able to play a few tennis matches and a few games of basketball. I need help!
What an honor to preach the Easter message at a local French church in Brussels. The resurrected Christ was present! He brought peace, revelation, and a fresh breath from His mouth to our hearts. Some weeks later I had the joy to also preach in a growing Spanish church here … and even practiced my “rusty” Spanish.
Project ’91 was officially launched with a march through the city of Brussels the day after Easter. Five thousand-plus from many congregations marched, carrying banners and singing. Many others walked along both sides of the street passing out tracts. We ended in a park with preaching, singing, and proclamation.
Although the city tried to hinder the march with delays, rerouting, and refusal to give media coverage, God was present and the people of Brussels were again reminded of the message of God’s love for the sinner and judgment for the sin. There is still a great need for prayer and for laborers.
Bulgaria was our next ministry privilege and opportunity. This Leadership School was well attended in the daily teaching sessions, and the church building was full for the evening rallies. Such a hunger for the Lord and His Word. Many were changed by the power of God. Saturday night I preached at a youth rally, and Sunday at services filled with hungry and responsive people.
Again, we were thrilled to see God’s mysterious presence touch us in Word and Spirit. What a gracious pastor, family, and warm-hearted people! These saints of God have endured such affliction for the Gospel. Their reward is forthcoming! I was humbled to be among them.
It was an honor to visit the mayor of the city, a staunch anti-Communist. He has given the church a 10-year free lease on a 5-story building with an option to buy. This building was once used as a German school.
Also, the city has offered the church two stories of a “modern” building now used to house 850 medical students. The city would like the church to provide a medical team for a day clinic on one floor. They, in turn, would give the church the other story for church use as well as mandate all of the medical students to take theology classes taught by the church!
The mayor was very open to our team and desired our prayers before we left. The pastor of the local church led us in prayer.
I was home for 10 days before leaving for ministry to precious, warm, and spiritually hungry people. Five days we were in the Slovak region and the remaining days in the Czech region.
Though the country is one politically, it is rife with ethnic and regional rivalries. What a joy, however, to see the two Pentecostal districts working in such close harmony and with one purpose: to see their nation reached with the Gospel, leaders trained for ministry, and their people growing into the full stature of Christ.
God gave such excellent and spiritually mature leadership through the years of crisis and oppression. He has continued to provide spiritually mature men for this present phase of “open doors”.
ICI is providing training materials. We taught during the day and preached in the evening services. God honored His Word with His presence to save, heal, and fill with His Spirit. One Saturday evening it was our privilege to preach God’s Word in a hall formerly used by the Communist party. People were crying out to God as He made His presence known. To Him be all the glory!
On the last Saturday the church sponsored a conference on “Christianity And Yoga” in a former Communist “cultural center”. Former teachers of Yoga invited their former pupils to attend. Posters and flyers had been printed and distributed.
The Conference lasted nearly 4 hours. The basic Yoga beliefs were given by a former teacher. Three Christians, converted from Transcendental Meditation (TM), gave their testimonies. We followed with a presentation of the Gospel. After a break, there was a lively question and answer period. Several were moved by the conference and one man made his public declaration of his need for Christ!
Oh, the grace of God … not in man’s work that he should boast, but that God would receive ALL the glory!
The Church is making an impact upon the nation! The Director of Religious Affairs asked for a conference with the Slovak Pentecostal leader to talk about religious freedom and suggestions to write the nation’s Constitution as it relates to religion and the State. God is moving by His Spirit … moving o’er all the earth…
Observations on Eastern Europe
Following are some of my general observations on eastern Europe:
1. First, God is moving throughout the churches in salvation and Pentecostal power. Most churches have outgrown their buildings and are desirous of pioneering other churches. In one country alone, there are 36 cities of 50,000 plus inhabitants without any evangelical work. Laborers are needed.
2. Open doors have created blessings for the churches. There is a new freedom to evangelize openly on the streets and in the city halls. New ways of dealing with the government as well as leading the Church are being explored.
3. Open doors have also produced some major problems. There is an expressed deep concern over the intrusion of the occult, false teaching and teachers, pornography, and religious oppression.
4. All leaders express an urgent desire to train pastors and leaders for ministry as well as ground the Church in Biblical doctrine and practice. Providing teaching/training materials facilitates the process.
5. Financial needs can best be met through wise planning, the Spirit’s guidance, and disciplined responses based on prayer, thorough inquiry, and accountability.
6. The Church has a hunger and desire to know God and His Word in the power of the Spirit. On the reverse of that, the Church in the East has some of the same weaknesses, failures, and needs as anywhere else. Man is one in nature. Culture or environment affect differently but have not changed the basic nature of man. Pastoral principles and challenges are similar for anyone in the ministry.
It was good to get home and rest for at least 3 days before leaving for the States. Since our second son, Paul, was leaving for Honduras for ministry, I went a little early in order to see him, hug and kiss him, and lay hands upon him before he left. It was special! Also, Reuben was preparing to go to Singapore for ministry. I was so blessed to be with them! I still have a hard time calling them other than “boys”! (They are both taller than I am and so mature! Does that sound like bragging?)
The Lord has blessed us with four precious sons … two are with us and two are serving the Lord in college and in their respective ministries in the church and in ministry assignments during Easter and the summer.
Reuben had the privilege to go to Urbana, IL, for a Missions Conference sponsored by InterVarsity. Many thousands of students participated in teaching and in hearing the challenge of world missions from world-renowned speakers.
After the Prayer and Fasting Conference in Santa Cruz, CA, I was able to spend some precious days with my sister, my mother who will be 91 in July, some of my family, and friends. These days were blessed of the Lord. I am deeply grateful for all who had a part in allowing me to come and enjoy this special undeserved benefit.
This last paragraph almost always ends the same … with thanksgiving to the Lord and to you for your love, prayers, financial support, letters, calls, and friendship. We are deeply indebted to you for your faithfulness to us.
For those who are prayerfully and financially supporting us, these letters are our meager way of showing some kind of accountability to you. We cannot respond personally to each individual or church. I wish we could. Please accept this as an informal but sincere way of bridging the gap in time and space in bringing glory to God for His work through His Word and Spirit.
Carmen and the boys (they are more like young men) are doing well. Carmen has agreed that she will write the next newsletter. You are in for a treat!
Blessings … Jesus is Lord! Maranatha!
Watching, Waiting, and Working until His Return,
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira