Just a few minutes ago, I returned to Osijek from a refugee camp located a couple of kilometers from the “border” of the 30% Serbian-held Croatian territory. Quite an experience! Let me back up…
I cannot help but reflect on the Body of Christ. Having the joy of visiting many churches and pastors, and interacting with many national leaders and movements, I am continually amazed at the “Mystery”—God’s plan for His dwelling place—the Body of Christ! When God wanted to pioneer His Church, He chose a borrowed building with less than ideal surroundings, not in a political or economic center, but in Bethlehem. We are to be committed to “build” and not “destroy” the Temple of God (I Cor. 3:11-23). Fracturing, divisions, a party spirit, “Pentecostal Gnosticism”, and a host of other means of separation, superiority, and selective fellowship are Satan’s wedges to undermine and weaken God’s ordained structure (James 3:13-18). “Peace through the Blood” is the rallying Cry of Calvary, while “Power through the Spirit” is the rallying Cry of God’s reversal of Babel. God grant that we would “crave” the Body of Jesus, as Joseph of Arimathea did, to serve it sacrificially and lovingly!
Besides enjoying the good food and Portuguese culture of my childhood, I was most importantly thrilled to have the opportunity to affect the Church leadership of the country. The Lord spoke to us through His Word, in the power of the Spirit, and through supernatural gifts and visions.
What a time we had with the leaders from the four branches of the Pentecostal movement of Portugal! One of these leaders invited me to extend my stay and preach in churches throughout the Lisbon area. In one service, the presence of the Lord filled the House. We stopped preaching and knelt on the platform, while the glory of God moved upon the congregation to restore and deliver. After the meeting someone shared that they had been baptized in the Holy Spirit… all without anyone’s help!
The Pentecostal movement in Macedonia has about 150 members, with about 300-500 evangelical believers and about 2,000 adherents. Our task was to speak to the leadership in the main church in Skopje, preach in that church, and participate in preaching in an outreach church about 30-50 km from the capital. The Lord was pleased to see people respond to the Gospel for salvation, and to His Word. It was my special joy to stay in the home of longtime friends and “former” missionaries. Without “missionary appointment”, they are actively involved in leadership training and extension of the Kingdom of God.
This was my third visit to this part of the former Yugoslavia. The first two times were under the Communist regime. Now, though the walls of Communism have collapsed, there are walls of hatred, war, and atrocities, along with indescribable sorrow, suffering, and separation. The ravages of war were indelibly written upon the faces, expressions, and conversations of the people.
We taught several hours each day, preached in the churches and chapels, and had numerous personal contact with leaders and students. The Lord gave me the spiritual and physical strength needed to see Him work in the lives of these precious leaders, students, and church members. There is no greater joy in training than to see the “lights come on”—where revelation of truth has made the final leap between either ignorance or rejection to knowledge and acceptance.
There is much commentary which could be interjected here. Suffice it to say that God is working in the midst of tragedy. For example, one of the most difficult Muslim “people groups” which lived in Bosnia fled to Croatia only to be presented with the Gospel in the refugee camps! I visited a camp and home of one such Muslim family.
On one Friday evening, following the presentation of a youth mime team from Skopje ministering in the center of Osijek, I mingled among the several hundred youth that had gathered. For hours, I and the students from the Bible School talked with them, hearing their hatred, feeling their frustration and pain, sharing Christ, and praying with them. Among them was 16 year-old Sandra, whose father had been murdered, and who had been contemplating suicide. She received prayer, and God’s peace brought some measure of hope to her heart.
This Journal continues as I travel home on a plane from the Czech Republic. Having had just a few days at home to recuperate, repack, review, renew, and relax after nearly 3½ weeks of ministry in Croatia and Macedonia, I went to the Czech Republic very tired, but thrilled to know we are in the perfect will of God.
No other external or internal matter supersedes this all-encompassing truth: success is being obedient to the known will of God. What consolation, what motivation, and what peace!
Again, the Lord was present in His Word in the training of leaders, the daily preaching in chapels, and ministry in the churches. I was asked to teach 7 hours the first day. The following days were more “relaxed”, with only 4-5 hours daily in the classroom; this was besides the services and ministries in the chapels and churches.
Let me share a personal note with you about “numbers”. Some have asked about numbers; i.e. how many were saved, filled with the Spirit, healed, or how many were in the special meetings, churches, schools, etc. You will notice I do not share any numbers! Here are some of my reasons.
First, there are only two recorded instances of “numbers” in the Book of Acts after the birth of the New Testament Church: 3,000 and 5,000. Second, in all of the Apostle Paul’s recording and reporting of “exploits for God” to the churches, no numbers are ever mentioned. In fact, Paul forgot all he baptized!
We can count “heads” but we cannot count conversions! Besides, how does one measure the results of training, growth, renewal, restoration, or change in direction, attitudes, or behavior? (See Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Pet. 1:3-11; 2 Pet. 3:18.) Sometimes I get the impression that “size is success” and that “numbers mean nickels”. We “walk” by faith, “live by our faith”, and ministry is “of faith”. The “results” of the ministry of Word, Spirit, and personal example must be left to God, the Judge of all the earth (1 Cor. 4:5). Thank you for your understanding and trust in this regard.
As the Lord wills, provides, and confirms, our future schedule (as we know it now) is as follows:
June: Spain conference for missionary families of Europe for spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical renewal
July: Speak at the East European Outreach Conference in Budapest
August 10: Carmen’s and my 25-year wedding anniversary celebration
August-September: Moscow Bible Institute and nearby churches
November: Egypt District Minister’s Councils; possibly Jordan
We will have been ministering in Eurasia for six years by the summer of 1995. We expect to take our first furlough then. Stephen, our fourth son, will have graduated from high school and will go off to college somewhere—we do not know yet where!
We are now scheduling services, conventions, etc. for the late summer of 1995 and through 1996, should Jesus tarry! (Wouldn’t it be marvelous if He came before then?!) Please contact us should you desire to schedule a meeting. Some churches have already been scheduled.
As I close this Journal, I am viewing the sunset from our back window. I am again reminded of the many “sunset” pictures given by missionaries at the close of their slide presentations during our pastorate. The message was clear—the hour is late. The events in America and around the world, both spiritually and politically, along with the prophetic view of Christ’s Coming Kingdom all speak of urgency to train and disciple national pastors, leaders, and students to reach their country and their people, some of whom are scattered around the world. The “window of opportunity” is closing.
Many of you have been partners with us through prayer and support in this training/preaching ministry. Thank you! We have shared openly and honestly what God has given us to do by His grace here in Eurasia, including the 10-40 Window we are hearing so much about. Your continued support is needed! We continue to trust the Lord for meeting the financial challenges that face us monthly. God is faithful! He cannot deny Himself to accomplish His purposes in and through our lives as we love and obey Him.
Know that you are in our hearts and in our prayers continually. We constantly share with the pastors, leaders, schools, and churches of your love, prayers, support, and Christian greetings. They all send their Christian greetings in return. Your prayers are much needed and appreciated for us all!!
Partners with Christ and You in the World’s Harvest Field,
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13