A Man with a Mission

A Man with a Mission

Rutgers custodial services supervisor writes and illustrates children's books, dedicates himself to missionary work

Nelson Seda
Nelson Seda, who works in the Facilities Department at Rutgers-New Brunswick, writes and illustrates books with a Christian message in his spare time. 
Photo: Courtesy of Nelson Seda

“My stories and illustrations are meant to intrigue kids and also pass on a message to both children and parents.”
 
- Nelson Seda

Media Contact
Elizabeth Crann
848-445-2401

When he is not overseeing a staff of 31 custodians in New Brunswick, you may find Nelson Seda preaching to lost souls in Morristown, performing as a clown, putting on puppet shows, or writing and illustrating books.

Seda, a foreperson for custodial services in the Facilities Department, supervises a staff at Rutgers Business School and other buildings on Rutgers’ Livingston campus. He is also a missionary, artist and writer in his spare time. His first illustrated children’s book, The Green Prophet, published in 1997 by Companion Press, has been distributed to missionaries all over the world.

“My wife and I wanted to be missionaries,” said Seda, the father of three children. “I have always been artistic, and when traveling to places within and outside of America, it helps to be able to bring an entertaining aspect to our work.”  Seda has dressed as a clown, donned clown make-up on others and performed puppet shows in an effort to reach children and parents.

Born and raised in Newark, Seda attended Newark’s Art High School on a scholarship. The Green Prophet is one of several books he wrote and illustrated based on biblical passages.  “My stories and illustrations are meant to intrigue kids and also pass on a message to both children and parents,” he said.

For 30 years, Seda has been bringing his message of redemption to Market Street Mission in Morristown.  “Sometimes I ask why I do this, but then I see a change in someone and I know why,” Seda said. He relayed a story of a very wealthy California businessman who hit the skids, drinking his way from his California lifestyle to homelessness in New Jersey.

“He was depressed, started drinking and wound up on the streets. He had a wife and four kids. He was out of their lives several years; they thought he was dead,” Seda said. “When he first started hearing me preach, I saw the skepticism. He was thinking ‘What does this guy know?' A month later, he was contacting his family to let them know he was alive.”

Another time, he was in a supermarket in Bound Brook, when a young man called out to him. “He said I had changed his life. He was at the mission, a homeless dropout with gang tattoos. He told me he went back to school, became a nurse, got married and has three kids. He works in a hospital. I bawled when I got home.”

The Green Prophet
The Green Prophet
Courtesy of Nelson Seda

Married for 24 years, Seda took his wife – who he met, not surprisingly, at church – to the Market Street Mission when they were first engaged.

"I did not want to get married, and she hated me. I was always clowning around. One day her car broke down and she would have wanted anyone but me to drive her home; there was no one else around so she finally had to accept the ride.

"To thank me for driving her home, she suggested we get a bite to eat. At the diner she kept eating my fries, and I’m thinking ‘no one touches my food’. We spent 15 hours together that day and within five days, I proposed.”

Once his children are grown, he and his wife plan to go to Easter Island in the South Pacific and become full-time missionaries – and he will continue to write and illustrate books with a Christian message. Seda chose Easter Island because it is remote and has a population in need.

“The books and artwork will help support us,” he said. “This is who I am; this is what I do.” 

Media Contact
Elizabeth Crann
848-445-2401