Pastors Rick Seaward and Edmund Chan at the LoveSingapore Pastors' Prayer Summit 2009 – the only photo we could find of the two great friends together.
I have just lost a dear friend. I cried.
It was at a church board dinner on March 25 when I was notified of Pastor Rick Seaward’s passing.
“Oh no!” was my immediate response.
Hoping that it was fake news, I shot a WhatsApp to Pastor Rick himself: “Rick! Is everything okay?” (He was notoriously slow in replying his emails but was graciously fast in replying my WhatsApp.)
But there was no reply.
The great stature of this man of God was obscured by his humility; and yet it was his humility that defined his greatness.
And just as I was about to WhatsApp another friend for a confirmation, a notification came to confirm the tragic news. Pastor Rick had passed away in a car accident while ministering in Brazil.
I was in shock and couldn’t believe it. Just like that, my friend was gone.
I led the church board in prayer. My tears flowed freely. I quickly excused myself from the dinner to return home to grieve privately.
Tears were still flowing the next morning. I found solace in my Quiet Time from Psalm 56:8: “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle …”
God knows. God cares. And God will bring His redemptive purposes to pass.
The late Pastor Rick Seaward, a missional Christian statesman, was one of my closest friends in the ministry in Singapore.
In our mutual busyness, we’ve always made time for each other. Extended, unhurried time. We enjoyed each other’s company, such that each of us seemed reluctant to be the first to say: “I’ve got to go!”
I’ve prayed more with Rick than with any other pastor in Singapore. And the more I heard this man’s heart, the more I admired him.
I’ve learnt more about global missions from Rick than from any other Christian leader. And even in leading a movement that has planted about 10,000 churches in 90 nations, there was no showboating or grandstanding with Rick Seaward.
The great stature of this man of God is obscured by his humility; and yet it was his humility that defined his greatness.
As his friend for about two decades, I’ve witnessed the inspiring development of meekness and greatness in Rick’s life.
The last two private meetings with Rick in January and February were God’s special “farewell gifts” of Rick to me personally. We’ve talked even deeper than we’ve talked before. I will long remember and cherish it. For through these precious lens, I saw a humble, godly, missional man of God.
In spite of the weight of leadership on his shoulders, there was not a shred of bitterness nor complaint.
Rick carried on his broad shoulders the weight of national and international leadership which, in obedience to God, he bore so admirably well.
In spite of the weight (and godly disappointment in some cases) there was not a shred of bitterness nor complaint.
In fact, it was the opposite. He laughed. And he laughed sincerely. And he laughed again. And again.
I have the most vivid picture in my mind of Rick’s laughter, such that, the first image that came to my mind upon receiving news of his passing was his laughter!
Now he is in the presence of Jesus. And I kid you not … I can see Rick Seaward heartily laughing!
Rick and I had made an appointment to meet again on May 14 for another unhurried private lunch. Alas, it was not meant to be. I will sorely miss him.
Farewell, my friend. See you later!