I began writing this Journal in Sofia, Bulgaria. A pastor and I were teaching at the Extension Bible School there. Pastors, leaders, and students from all over the country came for intensive Bible training. I continued to write this Journal at the Munich airport heading home. The TV monitors were continually airing reports from CNN on the potential of a global disaster. The staggering acceleration of unfolding events daily reminds us that “this world is not my home.”
The intense globalization we are experiencing and the worldwide desire for peace and security cannot go unnoticed. The widening influence of a World Court, the desire for a world economy, and the unification of a world political system all point to a New World Order. More and more the European Union is gaining economic power and political dominance, as well as military ascendance with its own RDF (Rapid Defense Force). We are moving swiftly toward the biblical scenario as found in the books of Daniel and Revelation, and the reviving of the old Roman Empire. We need to ask ourselves this question: What is our response to the obvious movement toward a cataclysmic divine intervention?
Matthew, Mark, and Luke give us some broad prophetic strokes of end-time events. All three Gospel records give us our marching orders. The message is clear—take heed (be on guard), watch (give strict attention to, be alert, be active, be cautious), be ready, and work (the faithful servant is serving the Lord). Scripture never intimates going up to a mountain to retreat and passively wait. All four Gospel records and the book of Acts give us the vision and passion of God. He sends His Church to the world to be His witnesses (martyrs) empowered by the Spirit.
What is our response to the events—especially to the climactic Event of all history, the return of Christ?
The Bible says that we are to be filled with hope. We are to “comfort” one another with the rapture of the Church.1 We are to be looking for Him with earnest expectation. As the world becomes less and less attractive, the Bride of Christ is filled with anticipation to be united with the Bridegroom.2 In Jesus’ well-known parable they were all “virgins” but only five had oil. All were invited to the wedding feast, but one did not have his “wedding garment”.3 He is coming to “those who are looking for Him … who with eagerness wait with patience” His return.4
To have this Hope is to separate ourselves from anything that detracts or defiles the body, mind, or spirit. The “world” is first within us.5 As the Parable of the Soils makes clear, “The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust for other things, choke out the Word.”6
In Luke 19:13 the word used in the Parable of the Pounds is “trade”—to buy and sell until the Nobleman returns. The word is pregnant with meaning—no laziness or slacking off with the gifts … no burying them with fear, hurts, disappointments, age, neglect, or a misunderstanding of the Nobleman. We are to use whatever God has given us to its fullest potential—be a “good and faithful steward”. We may not have the gift of leadership or a title, as in Ephesians 4, but we can all be “good and faithful stewards”! And we will be rewarded accordingly. We are to abide in Him that we be not ashamed at His coming.7
As the Message is clear, so is the Mission. Acts 1:8 is God’s clear mandate to the Church to wait UNTIL: “But you shall (not ‘may’) receive power from on high … and you shall (not ‘should’ or ‘may’) be My witnesses.” In Acts 1:6, the disciples were concerned about the Kingdom to come, but Jesus was concerned about the world for which He came to die! In the Great Commission Jesus says, “As you are going … disciple the nations.”8 We are told by Christ, “As the Father has sent Me, even so send I you.”9
We occupy UNTIL! We work UNTIL! We proclaim UNTIL! We speed His return while we wait.10 Christ, our Hope, will never disappoint us.11 Why does the Lord wait so long? The Lord waits with longsuffering, not willing that any should perish.12 When the Lord completes His Bride, then the Lord will return as the conquering Lamb and prepare for the Wedding! What a glad reunion! Heaven shouts with glad “Alleluias”! Then “the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and Christ!”13 Worship is the culmination of all missions endeavors.14
This was my fourth visit to Bulgaria, the first being in 1991 at the opening of the Bible School in Ruse. On this trip we were in the country for 15 days teaching pastors, church leaders, and students. The Extension School is held in the middle of winter (at times freezing and snowing) because many of the pastors and leaders are farmers, and they cannot till the land during this season. We taught daily on the subject of church growth. We also had the opportunity to preach in some churches and chapels.
The Lord manifested Himself in wonderful ways. There were several testimonies of physical healings. On one occasion, while teaching about church growth and the results of Pentecost, I was about to give the third point. At that moment a brother asked for prayer for healing (before I wrote on the marker board). We immediately stopped the class, anointed him with oil, laid hands upon him, and we all prayed. After prayer, he testified of healing! Then I wrote the third point: miracles are a result of Pentecost and result in church growth!
The Lord also did a miraculous work among the country’s denominational leaders, for which we are grateful!
This was my first overseas ministry since 2000! Daily the Lord physically strengthened me. His grace was sufficient! We sensed the prayers of you, God’s people, interceding for us and the country of Bulgaria.
We plan to go to the Azores Islands (an archipelago of 9 islands 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal) next month to be a part of the planting of a church in St. Jorge, the island of my father’s birth! In addition, we are scheduled to go to Belgium in June and possibly to Greece in late summer.
We again thank you so much for your prayers! These are not just idle words or filler. The Lord has given me life for a purpose. You have been a part of the miraculous by your faithful love, support, and prayers! We are deeply grateful! Know that you are in our hearts and prayers also.
Serving Christ as Lord with joy,
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira
1 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
2 Titus 2:13
3 Matthew 22:11
4 Hebrews 9:28
5 1 John 3:1-3; 2:15-17
6 Mark 4:19
7 1 John 2:28
8 Matthew 28:19
9 John 20:21
10 2 Peter 3:12
11 Romans 5:5
12 2 Peter 3:9
13 Revelation 11:15
14 Revelation 4-5