May/June '18


On July 3rd, our family departed Nigeria, bound for Louisiana. We arrived safely, and all of Sabrina’s initial doctors’ appointments have gone well as we are anticipating the birth of our sixth child around the second week of September. During the two weeks before our flight, we had the pleasure of fellowshipping with two missionary families [Fasinro family pictured] as they visited Abuja, and special times were planned with the leadership of both churches [that of Truth BC pictured] in which our family is involved.

In May, all seven of us traveled to Port Harcourt to be a part of Independent Baptist Church’s Ladies’ Spectacular; we were pleased to be joined by Ms. Pat Hamburg, who has worked with our ministry for several years.  Though Sabrina experienced some health challenges, she was able to teach with Ms. Pat and Mrs. Maskey and several others, and I had the unique privilege of preaching on Thursday evening to all the delegates. It was my fifteenth occasion in twelve years to minister in this wonderful church!
At the beginning of May, the Providence Baptist College and Seminary completed its most active semester in our nine-year history. The ministers-in-training witnessed a graduation, pastors’ conference, and the first time to have five teachers together. All eighteen students [most pictured with one of our deacons] participated in a multi-day leadership seminar [some participants and teachers pictured], weekly driver training, and a week-long skills-acquisition time that taught them small business skills. Several had unique opportunities for village outreach, and all participated in the following various regular activities: Bible clubs for children, youth meetings, Sunday School classes for singles, Christian film showings both in the school and in the local area, government school ministry, and outreach Bible studies.
 
There are many ways you can intercede for our ministry over the next few months. Please pray for my family as we travel to report on our work and as we prepare in faith for the new addition. Truth and Grace & Glory will have over twenty different men preaching in my absence, and two pastors’ meetings will be held. Three teachers will continue the work of the seminary, beginning again in August. Finally, I know the McGuffees would be glad for your prayers as they prepare to conduct three youth camps starting at the end of July.

March/April '18

Sabrina and I wish to announce the good news that we are now expecting our 6th child! As we have with the birth of each of our children, my family [pictured on Easter Sunday] is planning a furlough to begin in July and last through the end of this year. If you would like for us to report on our ministry, please let me know by email or through Skype (U.S. # 225.910.6337), and I would be glad to add your church to our schedule. So far, her doctor’s appointments have gone well; nevertheless, we request prayer for Sabrina’s health and strength and for the baby to be delivered in September successfully and safely. 
S.M.I.T.E. Africa is now international! The Student Missions Institute for Training in Evangelism held its first youth camp outside of Nigeria in Ghana with Fundamental Baptist Church of Kumasi. We were thankful to work with missionaries from our mission board, Fundamental Baptist Missions International, in training their young people and seminary students to conduct children’s Bible clubs throughout their area. There were 76 campers [pictured] who attended classes each morning for five days; in the afternoons, they teamed together for 14 Bible clubs where a total of 946 children were enrolled, and over 500 responded to the salvation message. S.M.I.T.E. Louisiana will soon celebrate its 40th Anniversary, and we are thrilled to bring to other countries what Sabrina and I learned in the U.S.  
The same week that we returned from Ghana, I picked up from the airport our four guests (including the president of our mission board, Dr. Mark Bosje) for the 10th Annual Soul Winning & Leadership Conference. Now that we have four other venues for regional conferences, our Abuja meeting concentrates better on drawing pastors from the immediate areas around us. Over 35 churches were represented [pictured with Dr. Cox], and nearly all of them were from a five-hour radius around our capital city. On the Saturday after our conference, Dr. and Mrs. Mike Cox and Missionary Evangelist Jim Belisle [pictured with Pastor Nicolas Wayih and Joseph] joined me to Calabar for their 2nd Annual regional conference. This meeting has the greatest response from the host church members at Independent Baptist Church of Calabar; there were also 11 pastors in attendance.  
The day following our Abuja conference, Dr. Cox and I (along with our assistant pastor, youth pastor, and an area pastor) [pictured with Ms. Pat in front of first building] met at Truth Baptist Church with several converted families of the Fulani tribe, a people group that is almost completely Muslim. We are partnering with Dr. Mike Cox and Global Outreach in Springboro, Ohio, to construct a City of Refuge where these families (who, normally, upon conversion, are rejected and threatened by extended family and expelled from their home areas) can safely live, fellowship in church, and be trained to go back to their people with the Gospel.  That afternoon, we visited the property that God has already provided through churches who have given as Dr. Cox travels and presents the need. The property has the potential to house 30 families with a church, and you can join us to help construct a second living quarters, a bathhouse, and an auditorium. For more information, please contact me, or see the City of Refuge page.  

January/February '18

At the beginning of January, we started a new semester of Providence Baptist College & Seminary with 17 students, two of them new. Our Saturday-only Temple Baptist Institute classes also resumed with 16 students after a holiday break. On the last weekend of January, we welcomed two dear friends and veteran national missionaries, Dr. David Jacobs and Pastor Paul Lawal, to preach our graduation services [gift calendar pictured] and also the Sunday services at both churches where our family is involved.

During the first week of February in Ogbomoso (in the southeast region of Nigeria), our ministry embarked upon its 5th venue for hosting Soul Winning & Leadership Conferences. A three-day Pastors and Workers Meeting was conducted at Faith Baptist Church (in conjunction with their 13th Anniversary Celebration) with Missionary Evangelist Donald Wattenbarger of Bibles Beyond Boundaries. I was privileged to preach alongside Bro. Don [pictured with our hosts] each evening, as well as have some time for teaching sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday with representatives from nearly 50 churches. Back in our area on Friday, Bro. Wattenbarger traveled with some of our men to see two areas where we are planting churches with our graduates.

Over a span of three years, Grace & Glory Baptist Church has grown from a small Sunday evening Bible study in the living room of one of our founding members, to a thriving congregation of 13 families and three staff members. For the last 30 months the church has paid to hold Sunday services in a nice meeting hall of a secure area hotel [recent service pictured]; this has been a blessing in one way and a challenge in another, as the location has been great, but the cost has kept us from being able to hold regular mid-week services and other meetings at the venue. Even with the restricted schedule, we have found ways to integrate youth activities, Lord’s Supper services, a discipleship series, men’s meetings, and “singspirations” (a service filled with song specials and a Bible study) into the regular Sunday program. Grace & Glory is now in the process of securing a 10-year lease for a place that would be more conducive to three weekly services and outreach meetings; please pray that we can reach an agreement with the owners soon. Likewise, continue to pray for Truth Baptist Church, as we’ve dedicated ourselves to also grow this first church plant that will celebrate its 12th Anniversary in May.

November/December '17

In early December, we rounded up our 15th semester of Providence Baptist College & Seminary and were pleased to have 5 teachers [pictured at a Christmas fellowship] working together for the first time since we started in 2009. Two missionaries (Bro. Sonny McGuffee and Ms. Pat Hamburg) have joined us, along with 2 national pastors who have taught since 2013. On January 27, our 5th commencement will be held, with 9 graduating the seminary and 4 earning certificates from our Temple Baptist Institute. With these 13 added, the total of those who’ve completed training in our schools is over 100, and 36 churches have been planted so far with the graduates!
The month of November was rewarding in several ways. For our 9th Annual Great Commission Meeting at Truth Baptist Church, we had the privilege of hosting our mission board’s Field Service Coordinator for Africa, Bro. Jeremy Snipes [village visit pictured left]; he taught in our seminary and also conducted the first-ever missions conference for Grace & Glory Baptist Church [flier pictured above]. Next up was an ordination service for a pastor and two of our graduates at the church that has regularly sent the most campers to our annual S.M.I.T.E., Zion Independent Baptist in Jos. According to my records, it is the 20th time that I’ve had the honor of participating in an ordination. The week following, Thanksgiving was celebrated at our house with three American friends and families. December gave us a nice break from our regular schedule and a fulfillment of a few holiday traditions that have been developed over the years: a big breakfast on the day that our kids opened gifts from grandparents, a Christmas morning service and gift giving for the children of Truth Baptist, and a brief family retreat to an area hotel.

The year 2018 could prove to be my busiest year ever for hosting conferences and camps. Truth Baptist Church will hold the 10th Annual National Soul-Winning and Leadership Conference (SWLC) in April and the 8th Annual Student Missions Institute for Training in Evangelism (S.M.I.T.E.) in August. In February, May, and October, four regional SWLCs will be conducted, along with three regional S.M.I.T.E. camps in April, July, and August (including our first-ever in Ghana!). Over the years, the Lord has always provided for my cost of traveling to these meetings, and this year I would like to help four of the host churches with the expense of feeding the visiting delegates for their multi-day events. The average total for each of the four churches will be about $1,500. Please consider joining me in this investment to encourage church leaders and youth groups in our ever-expanding ministry of pastors’ conferences and youth camps.

September/October '17

Good news has been relayed to us that the Bible Education And Missionary Service (BEAMS) wants to partner with us to send a container full of Bibles and “religious materials” to Nigeria. We share the same sending church with BEAMS and are happy they’ve chosen to help us; we’re also thankful for good contacts and co-laborers here in Nigeria that have already worked to make it possible on this end. We are asking prayer for three things: that we can raise the over $4800 for packing and shipping, plus about $1500 for clearing and delivery; that BEAMS has success in gathering the funds toward their goal of sending 5000 whole, hardback Bible for us (during the first few months of next year); and that you would consider sending any Christian books (for our seminary library in Nigeria) and songbooks (for national pastors) to include in the container. BEAMS requests for a detailed list of what is shipped to help with inventory; all such books can be sent to:
Mark Holmes, c/o BEAMS
15444 Duckworth Road
Gulfport, MS 39503 (phone 228.832.1096)

A special occasion in September allowed us to reflect on the unique ways that God has blessed our family with good relationships over these twelve-plus years in Nigeria. On the 2nd, I had the privilege of conducting a wedding for my longtime secretary, Christiana, someone who has also worked in our house on numerous occasions. Because she is very close to my wife and children and counts me as a spiritual “father,” I was asked to be the one to walk her down the aisle to begin the ceremony. Interestingly, the three ladies that Sabrina and I would also call our “daughters” [pictured below] were a part of the occasion in different ways. Mercy, who currently helps my wife in many ways, baked the official wedding cake; Joy, who will get married in December, was one of the bridesmaids; and Victoria, who was the first to “show my wife around” in Nigeria, is the wife of the preacher [pictured above with our ministers] who delivered the wedding sermon.
When visiting churches in the U.S., a question constantly asked is: “What kind of animals do you have there?” The assumption is that one can easily go on a safari in every African nation. Although there is a game park about six hours from us, tourism is not one of Nigeria’s strengths. For the first time during a term on the field, we took the opportunity to travel out of the country so that my family could see some aspects of Africa that many people believe we experience daily. On Tuesday, October 7th, we arrived in Durban, South Africa, and spent the next 11 days relaxing, sight-seeing, playing, touring, and then viewing zebras, giraffes [pictured right], lions, elephants, hippos, rhinos, and various other species of wildlife. Special thanks goes to our friends, the Nathan Owens family [pictured below with us], who setup many things beforehand, advised on the best places to go, and welcomed us to their young church.

July/August '17

June of next year will mark forty years since S.M.I.T.E. in Louisiana/Mississippi began its unique ministry of training independent Baptist young people in the reaching of children through Bible Clubs. Seven years ago, we carried that legacy to Nigeria, and now the movement has reached unprecedented new heights in West Africa. Starting on the last day of July, three youth camps were accomplished in four weeks, and the results were greater than we ever could have imagined, as the Student Missions Institute for Training in Evangelism welcomed 460 campers from 51 churches; they took part in 88 Bible Clubs and enrolled 4,760 children to hear the Gospel! I was humbled by all the work that Berean Baptist Church of Ogbomoso, Truth Baptist Church of Nyanya-Abuja, and Independent Baptist Church of Port Harcourt [pictured] put into hosting, along with an ever-growing and hardworking group of faithful staff and graduates. We are now looking forward to the prospects of expanding to Ghana next year. 

The middle of July brought an invitation to the U.S. for the unique opportunity to be the keynote at Fundamental Baptist Missions International’s Missionary Candidate School [pictured]. Fifteen years ago, Sabrina and I attended our first, and we credit much of our deputation successes to what we learned during the (at that time) two-week seminar. Joseph joined me this time around and attended his first-ever Youth Conference at First Baptist Church in Hammond, twenty-three years after my life was changed by the same meeting. We were treated superbly by FBMI and its staff, and I delighted in the chance to fellowship with veteran missionaries (as well as friends at the conference) and to teach the new candidates and those on deputation. Joseph and I took full advantage of our time by spending the two weekends (before and after our four days in Hammond) in our home areas, visiting family [pictured with my brother] and ministering in supporting churches. 

After more than fourteen years of writing to churches semi-monthly, I am finally developing a system to keep track of those who wish to only receive our updates electronically. If you would like to help me “trim down” our postal mailing list and expenses, please let me have an email address for your church or missions department so that you can receive our prayer letters by PDF attachment. In addition to email or postal mail, you can also view all our previous correspondence by way of our website (missionaryholmes.blogspot.com) or our mission board’s site (fbmi.org/holmes).  More frequent updates of our work can be accessed on our ministry Facebook page: Abuja’s Conferences & Colleges. 

[Video Clip of recent preaching......happy to be excited about salvation!]

May/June '17

Happy Independence Day! This update is being written as our family is preparing to celebrate the Fourth of July with another missionary couple and a family from our newer church plant; we’re thankful to have good fellowship with close friends on an American holiday. Almost three weeks of June were consumed with Soul Winning & Leadership Conferences in two places and a series of good meetings in a third region. The founder of our mission board, Dr. Mike Cox, made his eighth visit with his wife [pictured left] to our ministry for the purpose of pastors’ conferences, both at Truth Baptist Church of Nyanya [pictured above] and in Calabar (in the southeast). They were joined by one of our board’s field service coordinators, Missionary Evangelist Jim Belisle [pictured below presenting Teaching All Nations], who was on his sixth visit to Nigeria. At the end of the month, I was accompanied by new full-time missionary to Nigeria, Bro. Sonny McGuffee, to preach in two churches and hold a pastors’ fellowship in Ibadan (in the southwest). 

Four other aspects of our ministry saw victories in the last two months. Grace & Glory Baptist Chruch of Garki conducted several baptisms and welcomed new members into the fellowship. Providence Baptist College & Seminary [reunion pictured of graduates with current students during our conference] completed another semester and has several students ready to graduate who have taken staff positions, many who are working at their home church during the break, and some who are serving as interns in various churches. Temple Baptist Institute grew in attendance for its Saturday classes over the last two courses, and another national pastor is teaching during this time that I am busy with conferences and camps. Lastly, one of our multiple church plants had a dedication service during Easter and is now meeting in a new auditorium after having services under a mango tree for more than a year!

We are anticipating the new advance in our conducting of youth camps starting on the last day of July. The Student Missions Institute for Training in Evangelism will hold for the first time in Ogbomoso (in the southwest), the 7th Annual in Nyanya, and another in Port Harcourt (in the southeast). For two of the three camps, we need to raise about $1200 each to feed over 150 campers for five days. We are grateful for the way that many responded to the widow’s need from our last letter, and we thank you in advance for any help toward expanding our ministry of training youth to reach children all throughout Nigeria. 

[Footage from Bro. Belisle on one of his previous visits, as he traveled to preach in a village church]

March/April '17


An enjoyable benefit to partnering with pastors in our ministry training schools or hosting multiple pastors annually in our conferences and camps is being invited to participate in ordinations and other special days for those on whom I’ve been privileged to have a small influence. Two such occasions took place on the third and fourth Sundays of March, as I had the honor of being on the council of two ordinations in Port Harcourt [pictured] and Kubwa-Abuja. It is thrilling to see pastor friends ordain their own preachers and to have any part in the training and sending of these men.
            
Our efforts to expand the reach of the Soul Winning and Leadership Conferences continued in March, when Missionary Evangelist Don Wattenbarger of Bibles Beyond Boundaries joined me to conduct a regional meeting hosted by Missionary David Maskey at Independent Baptist Church of Port Harcourt.  Once Bro. Don and I returned to Abuja, he left the next day on a three-hour drive with several of our students to visit the Liberty Baptist Church of Gidan-Waya, which Bro. Wattenbarger’s home church helped to start.  We then enjoyed having the guest evangelist preach in both Truth and Grace & Glory churches on Sunday.
            
The two churches I am overseeing continue to mature in unique ways. On Sunday evenings in April, I presented the Series One lessons of the Foundations of My Faith discipleship material at Truth Baptist Church. There was an average of over 90 adults and teenagers in attendance for each session [pictured is the last one], and 56 completed all four lessons. We are continuing the studies for another 16 weeks during our prayer meeting service on Thursday nights. Sabrina has started a Ladies Bible Study on Saturdays for Grace & Glory Baptist Church. She is planning through the lessons for this group to grow into an outreach and discipleship group.
            
One of the great heartaches of serving in a third world country is to witness the plight of widows, especially those who were once the wife of a pastor. Considering the immense challenges these women face once their husbands pass on, it is likewise extremely encouraging to see a widow survive and excel on her own while also rearing children. One such former pastor’s wife has succeeded in building a house for her and her two children, and I would like to help her establish a business to allow her to be more self-sufficient. $2000 would provide a borehole (mechanized well) that could supply clean water for her family and also be used for selling water to the entire village where she lives. Sabrina and I would greatly appreciate any help towards this!
[Family picture on Easter Sunday above and congregational singing following auditorium expansion at Truth Baptist Church below]

January/February '17

On January 19th, our family returned to Nigeria after a productive time on furlough. The last two weekends in America were spent at our sending church in Gulfport and then at Sabrina’s home church in Baton Rouge where I had the privilege of preaching both Sunday evening services. Around New Year’s Day, a mini-vacation was enjoyed at a missionary resort cabin [pictured] in central Tennessee for 4 nights; it was a nice break in the midst of more than forty meetings during our five-month stay.

This particular "home- coming" back to West Africa was in many ways our best ever. The flights through London and into Abuja “were perfect” (to quote my wife), our house was immaculately cleaned and in good working order upon our arrival, and several church members had prepared welcoming gifts for our family. The first Sunday morning service at Truth Baptist Church was very encouraging, as we observed faithful men and ladies carrying on things that Sabrina and I started more than a decade ago. At Grace & Glory Baptist, we joyously took part in a baby dedication; the venue was filled to capacity with relatives, visitors, and well-wishers for the two families represented [pictured].

February 1st was the orientation for a new semester at Providence Baptist College & Seminary. We have welcomed five new students with hopes to have a commencement for ten graduates at the beginning of next year. The end of the month was highlighted by the ordination for a man who was reached by Missionary Maskey, trained at our college, and then sent out by the first church that Missionary Long began over 30 years ago; newly-ordained Royal Idakari [pictured at his graduation], along with his wife, successfully started a church in September, and they are a great testimony to the truth that one may plant, another can water, and it is definitely God who gives the increase.

Below is a letter from Missionary Evangelist Jim Belisle, a Field Service Coordinator with Fundamental Baptist Missions International
February 18, 2016
God has allowed me, for the past four years, to preach for Missionary Mark Holmes who ministers in the country of Nigeria. I had first met Brother Holmes at a conference about two years prior to preaching for him. At the time, I did not know the extent of the ministry I would observe. During my acquaintance with him these last four years I have been very impressed with what the Lord has allowed him to accomplish.  

One of our concerns as preachers in sending forth missionaries, is we want to believe that what they do during their service in an area, will last after they leave the field. We understand an area will never be reached just by the missionary. If an area is to be reached, it must be reached by the local population getting a vision for how God can use them in His work. I can say without reservation that what I have seen regarding the ministry God has allowed Brother Holmes to start, that ministry will last after he and his family leave the area. I am not talking about just the specific church that he first started or even the churches he has personally been involved in starting. I am talking about the influence he has had on the nationals. 

Brother Holmes has a remarkable ministry of influence throughout Nigeria. He has not only started churches, but he has a Bible Institute, a Bible Seminary and a Bible Correspondence School. Just recently he has added to the correspondence school, using CDs with solid doctrinal teaching. Also his church has had a part in establishing scores of churches that have national pastors who have had good solid training. He partners with a number of US ministries, (BEAMS and other similar ministries), so that his people can get good, Baptist based books and literature for their personal use. Each year, he and other preachers have a National Soul Winning and Leadership Conference. The interest has grown so much he is now having regional conferences. God is using these conferences to stir up pastors to follow the Baptist teachings of the Bible, to be soul winners and to build New Testament Baptist churches. Praise the Lord! This is why I am convinced his influence will continue long after Brother Holmes can no longer continue his ministry tin Nigeria! This ministry is a great example of a ministry being God’s ministry and not man’s ministry.   

I am always honored to be with Brother Holmes. I heartily recommend pastors to prayerfully consider having a part of this ministry. I believe your support will bring much fruit to your account.

November/December '16

November was momentous for Sabrina and me in that it was our first Thanksgiving in the U.S. in over a decade. Our family thoroughly enjoyed spending the holiday with both sets of relatives. Christmas was extra special as all three of Sabrina’s siblings with their spouses were together in her home area. The four families, including fourteen children, surprised my mother-in-law with a new piano for her rebuilt house. Please pray that her home renovation from the August flood damage will be completed soon.

It has been a great privilege for the first time on a furlough to have someone “fill in” for us. Bro. and Mrs. Sidney McGuffee [pictured with the SMITE guest preachers and our youth camp caterer] arrived towards the end of July and stayed in our home through mid-December.  At the beginning of this year, upon revealing in their home church a calling to become missionaries in Nigeria, they began raising support to minister in West Africa. Bro. McGuffee had been a supporting pastor of our ministry from the beginning, was instrumental in starting our Student Missions Institute for Training in Evangelism, has preached at Truth Baptist Church and in school ministries for the last five months, and ultimately wishes to work with our ministry and help with church planting and the starting of more youth camps throughout the continent. We ask you to pray for Bro. Sonny and Mrs. Dianne as they continue deputation through June of next year.


Through over 40 meetings on this furlough, it has never gotten old for me to testify of how God has blessed our family and work, especially in the area of multiplication. To date, 32 churches have been started by those who have been trained and/or ordained by our ministry.  The recent acceleration in church planting growth has been made possible by organizations such as C.O.R.E. Missions. Centered On Remote Evangelism [CORE group that visited in May pictured] works closely with missionaries to determine how they can be assisted in reaching their areas for Christ. Currently, CORE is desiring to support eight national pastors through three missionaries in Nigeria (including four with us), as well as working in fifteen other countries. Your potential support of CORE Missions directly benefits our work, so please visit www.coremissions.org for more information. 

September/October '16

This letter is being written as I am wrapping up our 10th missions conference in as many weeks. My family [children pictured] has traveled north to Michigan twice, flown west to California, and driven east to Durham, North Carolina. I am now in Brownsville, Texas, the site of our southernmost church and last multi-day meeting for our furlough. When we arrived in August, one supporting church and three dear friends in different states found out that my only suits were ruined when my mother-in-law’s house flooded, and, before the end of September, I had four new suits!

Our greatest encouragements in our considering Nigeria as a mission field and our biggest cheerleaders through our deputation were Robert [pictured] and Rhoda Smith, who spent nine years laboring in Ibadan. For over a decade now, they have served as missionaries in Barbados and have continually invited us to see their work. It finally worked out for us to spend a week in the Caribbean nation in September; I had the privilege of preaching in two churches, and Sabrina and I enjoyed a vacation with a beach house, plenty of sightseeing, and wonderful fellowship with close friends.

For the last several years, the three constant sources of insecurity in Nigeria have been the Boko Haram terrorist group in the northeast, various militant groups in the oil-producing southeast Niger Delta region, and sporadic skirmishes between Christian farmers and nomadic Muslim Fulani herdsmen. Recently, our assistant pastor, Bro. Justin Mathias, became acquainted with a group of Fulani converts who were desirous of discipleship and in need of resources to reach more of their own people.  On a Sunday morning service in October, several of these converts [pictured with Ms. Pat Hamburg and the McGuffees] were welcomed to Truth Baptist Church; they gave testimonies, sang specials, were fed by our ministry, and received an offering and promise of future support from our members.

I’m glad to share several avenues on how you can receive further updates and more easily invest in our work. Our ministry website, www.missionaryholmes.blogspot.com, has been revised with recent prayer letters, scores of pictures, and a testimony video. Also, you can message me at holmesfaith@hotmail.com if you want an email attachment of the video that we are showing to churches during our furlough or if you would like to receive our prayer letters electronically. Finally, our mission board has been working diligently to make it possible to give through the internet to each individual missionary. Please visit www.fbmi.org/give if you would like to learn more about this; find our page at www.fbmi.org/holmes. We want to take every advantage to stay in touch and partner with you in reaching the people of Nigeria.