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Jewish believer is passionate about helping Arabic churches

DETROIT (BP)–“I am a Jewish believer, and you are all Arabic, and only through Christ can we be together,” Jorge Sedaca, a Messianic Jew, told a group of Palestinian Christians. Sedaca voiced the statement in New Orleans, before he ever knew that God would send him to Michigan, home of the largest concentration of Arabic people outside the Middle East, to help reach the Muslim people there for Christ.

Sedaca is the language ministries leader for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. For five years he has coordinated church planting and ministries to more than 15 of the 115 ethnic groups in the state. Currently, the BSCM has active ministries to the Hispanic, Filipino and Korean communities, and they are building their outreach to Arabs, Chinese, Vietnamese, Kenyans, some from the French Ivory Coast, Hungarians and Japanese, among others. “God has given me a love for the languages,” Sedaca said.

Born in Spain and raised in Argentina, Uruguay and the United States, Sedaca’s life experiences have equipped him to communicate in five languages. With Spanish and English as his primary and secondary languages, he also can communicate in Italian, Portuguese and French and has a working knowledge of Hebrew.

“Sedaca,” Jorge said, is a Hebrew name that means “righteousness.” His Jewish grandparents emigrated from Smyrna, Turkey, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, a city with a large Jewish population. Jorge’s father, Victor Sedaca, was the first believer in his family. As a young man, Victor was about to attempt a professional soccer career in Argentina when he was invited to hear Southern Baptist evangelist Arthur Glass, a man whom God called to preach the Gospel to the Jewish people.

That meeting changed the course of Victor’s life. He became a believer and Glass began mentoring him. Victor became an avid student of the Bible, and eventually a Southern Baptist missionary to Spain and Uruguay.

Jorge was born while his parents were on the mission field in Barcelona, Spain. Because the Sedacas often held meetings for Jewish believers in their home, Jorge remembers growing up as both a Southern Baptist and a Messianic Jew.

The Sedacas moved back to Argentina for eight years, were in Uruguay for four years and spent about two years in the United States before returning home again to Argentina. In his college years while majoring in music, Jorge spent several months with his back turned on the Lord. “I was 21 and had gone through a difficult time and had really drifted away from the Lord. And things just kept getting worse,” he said.

Finally, he realized he needed God to rescue him, telling God, “I need help.” Sedaca went back to church. “My church family welcomed me. Things began to get better. Work at the bank got better. In gratitude to the Lord I told Him, ‘I’m going to serve You the rest of my life.’”

Not knowing how else God might use him, Sedaca began pursuing a music ministry. He married Marta, who was already involved in ministry in the area of Christian education and, like Jorge, desired seminary training. In 1977 they moved from Argentina to Fort Worth, Texas, to enroll at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where Jorge graduated with a music ministry degree.

Sedaca’s call into language ministries came about eight years after his graduation from seminary. Both Jorge and Marta had been teaching in their fields of expertise at the Baptist seminary in Buenos Aires. While on furlough, Jorge received an invitation to take a position at First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La. The Spanish church there needed a pastor, and the church needed someone to direct the ministries to internationals.

“I never thought I’d be a pastor,” he said. “My father was a pastor, my brothers were pastors and my sister married a pastor. I said I’d never be a pastor. But never say never to God!”

Sedaca accepted the position, trusting that God had opened a door. But he still did not fully realize God’s plan to use his diverse ethnic upbringing for His purposes. After five years in Baton Rouge, Sedaca received a call from the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans in need of a language missionary. He began to think, “Maybe God can use this.” Then he thought, “But I said I would never go to New Orleans. Again — never say never to God.”

For several years, Sedaca worked for the New Orleans association planting churches among various ethnic groups. He also started a Messianic congregation in his own home. But once again, he was detoured.

Sedaca took a position as an interim music minister and was eventually offered the job fulltime. For the next four years, his music ministry thrived. He started several choirs, an orchestra and several handbell choirs. “Everything was great! We lived close to the church. We had everything we wanted — a big house.

“But my wife and I began to feel like we had gotten too comfortable. We missed missions and working among the ethnic groups.” The Sedacas began to pray, setting forth three specific requests: that God would open an opportunity to return to ethnic work, that the job would be at a state level and preferably a fairly new work and, he said, “that we would like to move to a cooler place!”

Before long, God opened up an opportunity to serve in Michigan, answering each request. Now he enjoys helping Michigan churches start churches and reach different ethnic groups in their communities by doing demographic work, providing resources, and helping new congregations find places to meet and leaders to lead them. He also loves to teach and train others in church planting. “The whole church planting process is what really excites me,” he said. “When someone calls and says, ‘We have a group we want to start reaching,’ that’s what excites me.”

Sedaca also is involved in the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship, an international organization of Jewish and non-Jewish believers who worship in the Hebrew tradition and support the Baptist Faith and Message statement of beliefs the Southern Baptist Convention. Their objectives include evangelizing the world’s Jewish population and planting churches to provide church congregations for Messianic Jews, according to the website at www.sbmessianic.net.

Still strongly tied to, and proud of, his Hebrew heritage, Sedaca longs to one day to start a Messianic congregation in Michigan. “All of my other responsibilities make it hard, but it is still on our hearts.”

    About the Author

  • Kay Adkins