I begin writing this Journal in Albania—the result of a dream and a prayer that was birthed nearly 15 years ago! It began during my first visit to the former Yugoslavia and to the largely Albanian population to the south. But first…
She’s gone—the most influential woman in my life, on October 19, 1993. At 93, she had lived a full and vibrant life. She was converted in her 20s after hearing my Papa preach. They were married and began a long and fruitful ministry of evangelism, church planting, pastoring, and a two-term mission assignment to the land of my birth, the Azores Islands, Portugal.
If Papa was the preacher/evangelist (his real call) and later a pastor/missionary, Mama was the stalwart pillar of support, strength, and sacrificial service. Untiring in her labor, unbending in her faith, and unending in her prayer, she impacted our lives with godly devotion and example at home, church, and the community.
Her favorite Scripture verse was Romans 8:28 while Papa’s was Romans 8:32 … not too far off for two strong and determined saints who sometimes differed in their theological positions but followed with faithfulness their love and obedience to the Lord and their love to one another for 56 years!
I and my family want to honor her. I owe much of my present walk with the Lord to her, who nurtured me “from a child in the holy Scriptures” and in the Faith. One more witness in the heavenlies is spurring us on to our final Glory! Until the Morning … “We shall wear a crown …”
Urgency of the Mission
With worldwide changes being foisted upon us, I cannot help but believe that the prophetic time clock is speeding up to accommodate the coming of Christ for His Church.
Perishing mankind … the horrors of Bosnia/Herzegovina pale in comparison to the darkness of the doomed and the damned, separation without recourse or reversal! Our urgency, however, must be quickened, not primarily because of events, but because of a renewed vision of Christ and His Cross Who has made Light and Life available to all.
Surely, the “discipling of nations” is Jesus’ command that yet needs to be fulfilled. Training of leadership in the fragile democracies as well as in western countries is predominant in my mind and heart. I know you understand and care! Let me update you on some of our ministry since our last regular newsletter.
The Bible School of the Ukraine Pentecostal Union officially opened with approximately 60 full-time residential students. Being a part of new beginnings and innovative spiritual approaches demonstrates again God’s initiative in the world missions program. The opening ceremonies were impressive. The leadership of the Union is looking into the possibility of moving the school to Kiev, the capital. Praise God!
It was again my joy to be part of the process of training present and future leaders. The Church in the Ukraine continues to experience growth. The need for trained leaders is critical. We rejoiced to see many who had come to Christ during our previous visit in Poliana.
On the weekend we traveled on the overnight train to Kiev for ministry, and it was quite an experience! After the Sunday AM service with such a gracious presence of the Lord and response from the people, we immediately left for a prison that housed over 600 men. The conditions were primitive but the response there was beyond expectations! The Gospel is still “the power of God unto salvation”. Weekly services are held in the prison as well as follow-up training. The hunger for God in Christ was evident! What a mighty God we serve! The need for prayer is great!
I was invited to go for the first time to India and Bangladesh for nearly 3 weeks to minister in several Bible schools, churches, and in the ministry center in Calcutta. Upon arrival in Bombay in the middle of the night, I met a man at the airport with a sign bearing my name. After we drove a while I realized that the Reuben Sequeira he was looking for was not me! It seems that the Portuguese influence in India is more prevalent than I had realized.
After 3 hours of sleep, I left Bombay for ministry at the Southern Asia Bible College. This 4-year institution is led by capable Indian leadership and is the flagship Bible institute for all of southern Asia. The Lord was very present in the meetings with students, the school leadership, and faculty. The fellowship with students and the workers was enriching. I was privileged to preach in two outlying churches. In one church a baptism was held just outside the church door. Oh, the joy and experience of people worshipping God, the hunger for God’s Word, and the manifested love and power of God!
I left Bangalore one day before an earthquake hit the region. The whole area had been celebrating till 1 AM in honor of the gods of prosperity, fertility, etc. At approximately 3 AM, the quake!! I arrived in Calcutta where poverty is strikingly apparent, starting at the airport and continuing into the center of the city. The stark contrasts, the smells, the sounds, the babies laying on the sidewalks, the beggars, the homeless, the rains and flooding…
Nevertheless the Lord is doing a notable work of grace among the poor through many different agencies. The ministry begun by Dr. Mark Buntain in the 50’s continues to shine as a strong beacon of physical and spiritual light and hope. The many ministries of the church—daily feeding program, orphanage, hospital, radio station, printed page, schools, helps, and West Bengal Bible College—is a massive undertaking to confront an overwhelming reality. God’s extended love through His Church, the People of God, is evident!
West Bengal Bible College is headed by very capable national leaders. Students from several areas of the country filled the chapel daily as we shared the Word and Spirit of the Lord with them. These capable and dedicated students were strengthened in their personal lives to reach to the unknown areas of India that yet need to hear the Gospel! The Lord also allowed us to preach in the central church. He was very gracious in His presence and the people were very responsive. Again, it was confirmed in my heart that the training of national workers is to be our primary ministry. The need is critical.
Before returning home from New Delhi we were privileged to minister in the church there. The Lord chose to manifest Himself uniquely. His presence was real, and again the response was met with God’s loving power to save, deliver, and restore!
I had the joy and privilege of staying in the home of a former student who is now a fellow-laborer in the Kingdom of God! What a joyous experience of fellowship with them and their 3 sons; it almost made me feel at home. This precious couple had only arrived about 6 months before our coming. They are learning the language and have a heart burden for the Muslims of the country. Again, poverty was evident and so is the prevailing fatalistic attitude of the people because of their Muslim “faith”. Oh, the need is excruciatingly real! The Lord allowed us the privilege to spend too short a time with the church and school.
And then … home at last! The trip to southern Asia was exhausting but exhilarating. The Area Representative, the colleges, and the church have asked me to return. Pray with me about this matter. It is so easy to respond to needs rather than to what the Harvest Master would desire. Paul is a good example of good intentions being redirected by the Spirit!
I arrived at the Prague airport in the late afternoon for extended teaching at the Bible School in Kolin. After preaching that night and preparing for the week of teaching, I heard the news at 7:30 the following morning that Mama had gone Home. I preached at 8:30 AM before leaving for the airport to catch a plane back to Brussels and then on to the States the next day. Hopefully, I will return in April of this year.
National boundaries are changing. Likewise the ethnic mix of nations is changing. (Just look at our own United States!) Greece is no exception. We taught and trained leaders from different nations of the world who are now living in Athens. Greeks and many African nationals attended the week-long training on leadership and God’s patterns for church growth and ministry. The majority of them are presently in ministry as pastors and leaders.
I also had the joy and privilege of staying at the home of one of our missionary families. What fellowship! They have also pioneered a growing International Christian Church in Athens. This unique English-speaking church will be one model for ministry in an international community of diverse cultures, languages, and nations. Also, I was privileged to preach in the Greek-speaking church and fellowship with a Greek-speaking missionary. Keep the church in Greece in your prayers!
Nearly 15 years ago while pastoring I took a ministry trip to what was then called Yugoslavia with missionaries David and Linda Neighbor. Through their pioneering efforts and determination two Albanian converts were discipled. Later, the first known Albanian church was established in Pristina with one of these two converted Communists as its pastor! Since then, I, along with probably millions of others, had prayed for the land and the people of Albania. Now I was there, ministering to leaders and newly converted Albanians!
The evangelical Church has approximately 5,000-7,500 believers. There is a 70% unemployment rate in the country. However, the conditions have improved dramatically in the last two years. In many ways it is primitive, especially outside the capital. Our missionary team is doing a phenomenal work with a joyous spirit in the city of Tirana, the capital, and throughout the rest of the country.
An international English-language church has been established. In the Sunday AM service I attended there were approximately 400-500 believers. Twenty-one people were baptized indoors for the first time—quite an experience! The church’s ministry also includes a Christian day school, outreaches to the outlying villages, humanitarian aid, and entrance into the university for “lectures”, etc. We returned home tired but excited and challenged by the open doors of utterance and the need to train this young church in the work and words of God! Do pray for this country and its leadership!
Although much time goes into traveling throughout the extended continent of Europe and the former Soviet Union, at times I have the privilege of ministering here. The Arab Church in Brussels has acquired new property and is now in the process of renovating the new facilities for a greater and more effective outreach. It is a blessing to minister to them from time to time. I pray God’s blessing upon them.
At Continental Theological Seminary I was again privileged to share with the eager and responsive students the Word and Spirit of the Lord. Present and future leaders from over 20 countries are represented in this effective “scaffolding” ministry.
Our future schedule, the Lord willing, will bring us to Portugal, Czech Republic, Croatia, Russia, Ukraine, other former Soviet Union countries, Western Europe, and the Middle East for leadership training. Some of these ministry opportunities yet need to be confirmed. Do pray that God will confirm His leading for these needy areas of the world.
Reuben, our oldest son, is still pursuing his MBA here in the Catholic University near Brussels. Paul, our second son, is working in California and living with my sister who had been taking care of our mother for the past 13 years. We miss him! Nathan is continuing to attend Wesleyan University in Connecticut and was able to be with us for the Christmas holidays. Stephen is in the 11th grade, participating in sports (he made the first string varsity basketball team), and is involved with the youth program of the church. Carmen continues to co-teach in a Spanish outreach Bible study and is teaching a Sunday School class in Christian Center, the international church we attend, on the subject of Women in the Bible.
We thank you in Jesus’ Name! We bless you in Jesus’ Name! We pray for you in Jesus’ Name! We invoke His Name on behalf of you, your family, the church, the ministry, and your life. His Name is Healing! His Name is Victory! His Name is Righteousness! His Name is Shepherding! His Name is Sanctification! His Name is Provision! His Name is Presence! His Name is Almighty! His Name is Peace! His Name is Salvation! His Name is Jesus! His Name is Lord!
In the most precious and powerful Name of Jesus,
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira, Friends and Partners with the Harvest Master and with You
II Thessalonians 1:11,12