I am flying fast and high … literally at 37,000 feet at 547 m.p.h., according to the T.V. monitor in our Boeing 767. I am headed for Copenhagen on my way home to Brussels. I am also “flying high” by what we experienced in Greenland (population approximately 50-60,000, weather blustering for May). The principles of “discipling the nations” (Matthew 28:19) were in full operation.
Let me divert for a few lines and excerpt some thoughts from an article I wrote recently concerning the Church’s “mandate”. Normally, we have heard that the “Great Commission” of the Church is to “go”. However, the command form of Matthew 28:19 is not in the word “go” but “teach” (“disciple” in the Greek text). Christ presupposes His Church will be on the “go” when it is filled with the Holy Spirit! Since the Spirit is to make Christ manifest in the world, He prods the Church to use all means available to make Christ known throughout the world. “Having gone” (so is the tense of the verb “go” in KJV), Jesus says, “make disciples”! The process is two-fold: First, there is evangelism (“baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”). Second, there is training (“teaching them to observe to do all that I have commanded you …”).
The Church would do well to follow the order! Fulfillment of the “Great Commission” has not been accomplished until such order has been obeyed. This Decade of the Harvest demands our utmost attention what may be the final decade before the King Returns! The “signs of the times” reveal we are in the “last seconds” of the “last hour”. We must hear “the cry of the Bridegroom”, the “cry of the damned” (Luke 16), the “cry of the Cross”, and the “cry of the souls under the altar”!
Our hearts must not be overtaken with “surfeiting”, the “cares of this world” (even the religious world), the “cares of this life” (even religious activity that does not focus in on our priority task and goal), and the “lust for other things” (even “bigger and better”, “more and more”, material edifices that give more room for bureaucracy and not necessarily more advancement of the Kingdom of God)! The “Race” is for “Runners”, the “Fight” is for “Warriors”, the “Field” is for “Planters” and “Harvesters”, and the “Building” is for “Builders” … “for the Lamb deserves the fruit of His labor”!
January: Austria, Romania
The theme and emphasis for our second visit to Austria was practical discipleship for a local church. We witnessed the presence of the Lord challenging and blessing His people through His Word and Spirit. Preaching in the evening services and on Sunday was uniquely blessed of God. There was no time to visit this beautiful country (rarely do I ever), but I was touched by these warm and gracious people.
Sixty(±) pastors, leaders, and wives were present in Romania for 2 days of a first (for them): a mini-marriage encounter. Quite an experience! It was a little awkward for some, as you can imagine, especially in a male-dominated culture. On Sunday, the preaching was blessed by the Lord as many responded to the Spirit’s call through God’s eternal Word. Being with warm-hearted people of God was mutually edifying.
Crossing the border to Bulgaria on a 11 p.m. train trip of about 75 kilometers took nearly 3 hours. I was literally shaking head to foot with the extreme cold, as there was no heat in the train. At about 2 a.m. I arrived at the station where no one was waiting for me. What a challenge, considering I had an 8 a.m. scheduled teaching session! We made it, thanks to the angels of God and His abundant grace!
This was my third visit to the Bible School and a first for a visiting pastor from the U.S. He brought good teaching and preaching to the people and, at the same time, had an opportunity to return to his Eastern European roots. Wonderful time in the Lord! On our way out of the country, we both preached in the churches in Sofia. While there, we also spent some precious time with the leader of the Pentecostal Movement.
Our Regional ICI Office hosted its annual Director’s Meeting at the end of the month. Many of the national directors were present to review the ICI program and renew fellowship with friends and fellow-laborers in the Kingdom. Twice daily, we were challenged by Word and Spirit through the straightforward preaching/teaching of an American pastor. It was the highlight (at least for me) of the entire meeting.
March: Iceland, Belgium
I left for Iceland in early March for our second visit to these great warm-hearted people on this volcanic island. These leadership training and preaching sessions in the mother church of the Pentecostal Movement were singularly blessed of God. Good things are happening in Iceland: a Christian radio station is now fully operational, churches are being planted, an active Evangelical ministerial fellowship has been established, and outreaches throughout the country are ongoing.
The joy of again ministering to the Arab church and, for the first time, to the Iranian outreach in Brussels was rewarding. The cultural context is unique. The Gospel is still cross-cultural!
Carmen and I hosted the entire Spanish outreach of Christian Center in our home. She had been teaching the Spanish class for nearly 4 months. This memorable occasion provided some real Puerto Rican, Spanish, and Peruvian food—delicious! But even more precious was the presence of the Lord! He touched us. What singing! What praying!
April: Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, France
It was in Spain, at the Seminario Evangélico Español, where we spent some precious time with students, faculty, and leaders for a week of teaching and preaching. The missionary Director, a former Catholic priest, with the equivalent of a Ph.D. from Barcelona University, is an experienced educator and pastor. The Spirit made the multi-faceted truth of Calvary pertinent to each of us in those precious days. We witnessed the Lord’s gracious hand upon the churches in which we were given the honor to preach God’s eternal Word. There are approximately 40,000 evangelicals and 15,000 Pentecostals in the country.
In April, we also had the opportunity to be the evangelist for an outreach to the French-speaking community in Brussels, led by an Italian French-speaking pastor working in the Italian church. Thousands of handbills were distributed to the surrounding community announcing the nightly meetings in the church. There were not many “newcomers” but the church was revived and many responded to the Word and Spirit’s call!
Our first ministry in both Luxembourg and France was very rewarding … such a gracious response to the Word and Spirit in the churches. In Luxembourg, the ministry to the leadership of the church and the preaching in both a newly formed church and in a pioneer church was rewarded with God’s presence.
May: Greenland, Bulgaria
What a joy and privilege to be part of the first Leadership Training School (LTS) to train national leaders and missionaries from several groups in Greenland. All of the evangelical leaders of the missions were present except one. Nationals were being trained while they taught. It was truly “on the job” training.
The people are unique in their cultural environment—reserved but warm, open without being boisterous. We witnessed the power of God to save and deliver in the meetings. An Inuit (for so are the Greenlandic people called) told me that he had never before seen a child respond alone to an altar call!
I continue this letter on a plane back home from Bulgaria. It has been a long, exhausting trip, since I only had 3 days home after my return from Greenland. Oh, but what a time we had in the Lord and with His people. Again, the opportunity and privilege was ours to participate in the final week of the Bible Institute with 200± pastors, leaders, and students of the nation. We had the privilege of being a part of the opening of the school and now a part of its final week in what has been a phenomenal first year! Great national leadership.
Again, in a rented public hall and in the church, we witnessed the Spirit of God quickening the Word resulting in many responding to the Gospel call to salvation, and the Lord present to deliver, to heal, and to change lives. Praise be to Him!
In the past two years, the number of churches in Bulgaria has grown from 35 to 115 with only 70 pastors. The need to train leadership is desperate. There is also a need for library books, even in English. Our tentative schedule is to return sometime in the fall, the Lord willing.
I know you will pray for the current leaders of the Fellowship for wisdom, strength, courage, and understanding in the will of God during these momentous days. The Lord and His Church are being challenged by false cults, divergent doctrines, and an Orthodox church attempting to control and repress Christ’s Church.
Pray! Pray! Pray! Let us engage “the Captain of the Lord of Hosts” to defeat the spiritual enemies attacking in full force from within and without—not only in Bulgaria, but throughout eastern Europe.
Again, the opportunity to preach and teach in the Arab Church in Brussels was a challenging experience. Following the meeting, we went to an Iranian outreach in the city. There were just a few of us around some coffee and tea as we shared the uniqueness of Christ and the Gospel. We had some lengthy discussion following. Do pray for these outreaches. They are most difficult and challenging. We are praying that the pastor of the Arabic ministry will be able to go on the radio soon.
Nathan, our 17 year-old son, and I had birthdays one day apart. He is growing upward (now about 6’5″) and I am growing older (and a little outward) at 52. Thanks for all the letters, calls, and cards. You made us feel not older but loved and appreciated! I am numbering my “days”.
Reuben and Paul, our two oldest sons, just finished a European semester and will be with us for most of the summer. Reuben is planning to stay for the year and Paul will return to college for his fourth year. Nathan and Stephen are doing well in school and in sports. Stephen’s baseball team won the Brussels Little League championship and plans to win the European championship in July. Watch out World Series in Orlando. Some Europeans may be coming your way!
Both Carmen and I want to thank you again! Your faithfulness in love, prayer, and support allows us to be an extension of you to this part of a very needy world. You are continually in our hearts and prayers.
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira
I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11