Indian student wins SBTS preaching award
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Aubrey Sequeira, winner of this year's Clyde T. Francisco Preaching Award at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, plans eventually to return to India with his wife Nishika to teach and train pastors.
He preached in the seminary's final chapel service of the semester April 18, leading Russell Moore, vice president for academic administration and dean of the school of theology, to say, "The best preachers in the world have preached in SBTS chapel. But I have never heard such a Gospel-powerful sermon as Aubrey Sequeira today."
The Francisco award goes to one student each year based on demonstrable preaching ability. During his sermon, Sequeira said, "You may be a master of divinity, but that means nothing if you are not a servant of humility."
A master of divinity student from Chennai, India, Sequiera began his message -- "Following in the footsteps of a foot-washing King" -- from John 13:1-17 by saying Jesus' washing of His disciples' feet was unthinkable and explaining the shock this would have brought to the disciples.
Sequeira described his native Indian culture, particularly its cultural norm of removing shoes before entering a building. As a boy in India, he and fellow students wore leather shoes when they played in the severe heat, and then an awful smell would accompany them when they returned indoors for class.
He offered three ways a follower of Christ can examine his life to confirm true discipleship: knowing Christ's servant-hearted love; knowing Jesus' sacrificial cleansing through His death and resurrection; and following Christ to the foot of the cross and to the feet of His people.
Sequeira asked those gathered if they knew God's love in the midst of both good days and bad.
"When you are weary, in days of uncertainty and darkness, do you know His love?" he asked.
Sequeira explained that sin does not change God's love for His children and that to be a true disciple believers must know the cleansing Jesus brings.
"On good days and on bad days, when you're impatient with your children and when you struggle with bitterness, you are clean by the blood of the Lamb. Behold the blood of Jesus," Sequeira said.
Sequeira exhorted students and faculty to wash the feet of the people around them and to be servants before they are scholars.
"Do you think that doing your devotions is more pleasing to God than doing the dirty dishes? Get down to where it is dirty and where you can smell the toe jam," Sequeira said, adding that humble service is more important than praiseworthy grades or Bible study sessions at Starbucks.
A member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, Sequiera plans to pursue a doctorate under New Testament professor Tom Schreiner after his graduation in May.
RuthAnne Irvin is an editorial intern at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Audio and video of Sequeira's sermon are available at sbts.edu/resources.