The New Year saw us starting a second Bible Institute, this time at Truth Baptist, our church that began last May. We prayed for twenty students and were blessed with that exact number on the opening Tuesday night! The first class is Personal Evangelism, and we have averaged about twenty-five excited pupils. Music and Song Leading is the course I am now teaching on Saturdays at the other Bible Institute along with Missionary Ron Gensaw (he teaches the Tuesday class there).
Truth Baptist Church continues to grow despite my increased load of leading two Bible Institutes, developing our newly-purchased property, and planning a future Bible College. God placed a desire in two of our most faithful members to have a Men’s and Ladies’ Fellowship. This group has been meeting every Sunday after the morning “Teaching and Preaching” service, and I have used the opportunity for teaching soul-winning and follow-up to the folks who stay, often numbering over thirty. Now we have about ten different men and ladies who conduct visitation on their own, in addition to our regular evangelism time on Saturdays. The fellowship has developed a great vision to contact visitors, meet members’ needs, and pray over specific requests.
In January, we had a group of seven young men and one pastor travel from Mississippi and Louisiana (the home states of Sabrina and me) to see our work. I have heard of no larger delegation that has visited an independent Baptist missionary in Nigeria. Each young man had been trained to do Bible Clubs by the Summer Missionary Institute for Training in Evangelism that is held every year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; it’s a week-long meeting that Sabrina herself attended for over ten years. Our eight visitors preached, won souls, and conducted Bible Clubs (consisting of a Bible story, missionary story, spiritual songs, and a Gospel presentation) at schools and neighborhoods around the three independent Baptist churches in our capital city. In 11 days they were in 30 schools; over 11,000 heard the Word, and over 7,000 professed their faith in Christ!
In the middle of February, I had the absolute privilege to travel to Ghana and be a part of the 1st Annual Africa Pastor’s School conducted by the FBMI Missions Team from First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. The pastor who ordained me, Dr. Jack Schaap, was the main speaker for the three-day conference. He brought thirty American visitors that included some of my former Hyles-Anderson College professors and several men with whom I graduated. The Sunday after the conference saw the four-month old church in Kumasi, Ghana, have an attendance of over 2,100, and the week’s soul-winning total for the team and the visitors was more than 4,300 professions! It was refreshing to see God’s obvious hand of blessing upon another ministry in West Africa.
Below is a letter from Pastor Sidney McGuffee of Ambassador Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana; he is also the founder of STAFF (SMITE Training Applied on Foreign Fields) and arranged for the group of 8 to come to Abuja:
March 28, 2007
To those who follow the ministry of Missionaries Mark and Sabrina Holmes:
I wanted to take this opportunity to relate the experiences we had recently on the mission field of Nigeria with the Holmes family.
I was honored to lead a group of eight to Abuja, Nigeria, from January 20, 2007, until February 1, 2007. The seven young men that went with me were aged 15 to 22. Just getting us there was a great task for Bro. Mark. At the first, the Nigerian officials refused to grant visas to the group. We had to reschedule the trip from November 2006 to January 2007 in order to gain the necessary approvals. Bro. Mark persevered with the officials in Africa while I worked on the officials in the Consulate General’s office in Atlanta. Bro. Mark sacrificed time and effort in spite of a tremendously demanding ministry. Without his diligent, consistent efforts over a period of months, the trip would not have been possible.
We were in Nigeria for about 12 days. We divided the team into two groups. Each group stayed in the Holmes house for about half of our stay. All eight of us had the opportunity to observe Bro. Mark and Sis. Sabrina in their daily life and ministry. We were unanimously impressed with what we witnessed.
Bro. Mark has provided a modest, but safe home for his family. Although they had only been in Nigeria full-time as missionaries for a few months, the Holmes (including their children) had acclimated excellently to the culture and hardships of Africa. The Truth Baptist Church that Bro. Mark had founded was remarkably established, sound, and maturing. It was apparent that very much work had been accomplished on the church facilities in a short period of time. Bro. Mark’s vision for future facilities was encouraging and inspiring. We observed attendance on Sunday services well over one hundred. The church had already established a ministry institute with over 20 students in attendance. The church operated one church-owned van and employs others for transporting people. Soul-winning was the highest priority in philosophy and practice. All the preaching and teaching that we observed was timely and targeted. Bro. Mark had an excellent working relationship with other missionaries and local officials in the Abuja area. The ministry appeared to be effectively administered with a frugality of finances.
In addition to the burden of a dynamic, growing ministry, the Holmes made us feel important. Their hospitality was exemplary. They made sure our every need was met. They made us a priority without neglecting their people or responsibilities. Bro. Mark transported us everywhere we needed to go except for occasions when the use of public transportation was expedient. Bro. Mark, with the help of some of the Nigerian national church members, coordinated our efforts to do children’s ministry work in schools (private and government) and as Bible Clubs.
Bro. Mark and Sis. Sabrina are doing an admirable job as missionaries to Nigeria. They are worthy of financial and prayer support. Thanks to their assistance, our team was able to return to the United States and report the following results.
In about 12 days, we were allowed to speak in 30 schools to crowds ranging from 50 to over 2000. Also, we were able to do four 5-day Bible clubs. We know that over 11,000 heard the Gospel and believe that over 7000 were saved. We know that many teachers and faculty members of many of the schools were included in the number saved. We conservatively estimate that over 100 Muslims were among the new converts. Members of our team personally baptized 31 converts in two different villages. In addition to the numbers above, each team member, paired up with national church members, went soul-winning almost every day. Many more dozens were saved in personal soul winning, but were unaccounted. Most of the young men in our team have now surrendered to be missionaries or re-confirmed an existing calling to the foreign fields. Praise the Lord!
S. J. "Sonny" McGuffee