July brought the completion of our curriculum for Temple Baptist Institute that has been developed over the last couple of years. Within the next two months, we will have a combined graduation and ordination service for the first four graduates of this ministry training school. We now have six teachers at three different locations and are enjoying the blessings of God upon our schools.
We celebrated Brian’s first birthday [pictured] on the 20th of August. The 2nd was my birthday, and our seventh wedding anniversary was on the 4th. Two small at-home parties and a mini-vacation for Sabrina and me (during a break in our Bible institute) commemorated the events. I also enjoyed calling my grandmother for her 87th birthday on the 16th of the same month.
Truth Baptist Church is continuing to mature while experiencing growth in several different areas. The offerings from our church members are now paying the salaries for an assistant pastor, a treasurer, and our bus leader. They also supply the funds to pay the electric bill (and generator usage), conduct the various children’s programs, and run our church van for each service (along with rental buses on Sunday mornings). We’ve seen an increase in attendance at the mid-week prayer meeting and our three different soul-winning times, and the church has approved the upcoming ordination of our first two deacons [one, Mr. David Oghene, pictured with his wife].
Sabrina and I want to conclude this letter by expressing gratitude to our many financial supporters. Usually, I feel obligated to fill our letters with only ministry and family news, but we want to also say, “Thank you.” Since October of 2006, almost $29,000 has been donated for buying the property and completing the buildings for our upcoming Bible college. Plus, during the first half of 2008, our ministry added eight new supporting churches, and another eight of our churches increased their support. My family definitely notices. It would be easy for us to sit across the Atlantic and complain about the weak dollar (our buying power for Nigeria decreased 20% in two years, and food prices have skyrocketed), but we do realize that the declining economy affects American pockets too. We greatly appreciate the concern that our churches have shown us missionaries by sacrificing more so that we can continue doing the work on the field where we’re called.
Below is a letter from one of our supporting pastors, Dr. Ken Shinn of Lighthouse Baptist church in Columbia, Mississippi:
Dear Friends,In early July of 2008, I was privileged to travel to Abuja, Nigeria to be in a Preachers' conference with Dr. Mike Wells and International World Wide Evangelism. This conference was hosted by the Truth Baptist Church and Pastor Mark Holmes.
Our church has supported Brother Holmes since before he and his family went to the field, and I was very excited to see the work first hand. Of course, since most of the secular news we get from Nigeria is regarding someone blowing up pipelines and such, I was a little apprehensive about the trip and what we would encounter there. But we had absolutely no trouble of this nature, and most all the people we encountered were very pleasant.
The work that Pastor Holmes is doing was most impressive. The church is growing rapidly. They are aggressively reaching people with the gospel. They are starting a Bible college to train the many men who have surrendered to the ministry. The people are excited about reaching out and starting new churches in Nigeria and beyond. Pastor Holmes has a great vision and is successfully passing on that vision to his people. Nigeria is ripe to be reached with the gospel and I believe that Truth Baptist Church will be key in turning Nigeria to Christ!
Pastor Ken Shinn
The next letter is from Evangelist Dr. Dave Douglass of All Nations Outreach Ministries, under Pastor Dr. Ken Pledger. He has 2 videos detailing our Soul Winning & Leadership Conference on his blog: www.missionarydavedouglass.blogspot.com. They are titled as: Interviewing Pastors in Abuja, Nigeria & Nigeria Trip, Part 1 :
Dear Bro. Mark,
Thank you for your wonderful hospitality to myself and our team at your first annual Pastors' School and Soul Winning & Leadership Conference in Abuja. It was my privilege to be part of the team with Dr. Mike Wells, Dr. Ken Shinn and Dr. Dave Baker. I was so blessed by the great turnout of 40 national pastors and the visitors and their response to the teaching and preaching. I have already received e-mails and phone calls from some of them in Nigeria since I have been back in the states.
Last evening in my home church, Calvary Baptist in Middleburg, Florida, I showed the first video of our trip there to Abuja, Abeokuta, and Lagos. Our church family was thrilled with the report of Truth Baptist Church.
What first impressed me was the amazing organization and preparation you had done prior to the conference which made everything run smoothly. I was also impressed with your close friendship with all of the African preachers. The respect they have for you and for Bro. Gensaw was obvious. I pray that many will send their preacher boys to your college for training. God has certainly blessed you with amazing facilities, and the work you are doing on it is very exciting. Your own church members were examples in leadership as ushers and helpers in the auditorium and the ladies doing the cooking. Brother, I have never before eaten food like that, but it was good and nourishing. Your first message, beginning the conference, set the stage for these pastors to open their hearts to be teachable as they realized that no one was trying to build a denomination or an organization. The singing was thrilling to hear. Africans can really sing. The choir numbers from each of the churches and the solos were excellent and professional. It really was not what I expected from my first trip to Nigeria. It was unique how you had several men share their ministries so that others could be helped. I was very blessed by Missionary Ron Gensaw's message during the conference also. It is wonderful that you men work together so well and are such good friends. Dr. Wells, as always, put together a balanced schedule of teaching material and Dr. Baker's lessons on music and finances was a major eye opener to the African pastors. Dr. Shinn always blesses my heart with his down-to-earth biblical logic in preaching and counseling. By the way, out on the streets, I took several good video clips of the national pastors winning souls with our team. I was honored that you would give me two opportunities to preach during the conference. Thank you for arranging for me to preach at Bible Baptist Church on Sunday with Pastor Simon. He is a great African preacher and has a tremendous knowledge of scripture. His church blessed my heart. We had 28 saved that day in the services. Please be sure to extend my sincere appreciation to your wife for all her sacrifices in preparing meals and being such a great hostess. I was amazed at your family's adjustments to living with the heat, mosquitoes, traffic, and only a few hours of electricity per day. We are spoiled here in America and your sacrifices were very obvious to us. With malaria and typhoid being such a big problem there, I know you face many hardships but show so much joy and contentment at being in the Lord's will. Your three children are precious, and they, kind of, adopted me as a grandfather!
Bro. Mark, just the visible decisions of 22 young men surrendering to full time ministry that last evening was precious itself, but many of the men allowed me to interview them on camera telling of the many decisions they had made in their personal ministries that week. The churches they pastor are going to be blessed and changed in many areas, lining up with the Word of God. You will be encouraged hearing how they were helped by the conference. Not only have these men promised to come again next year but to encourage other pastors to join them. I know that each year your Pastors' School and Soul Winning & Leadership Conference is going to grow. Thank you for arranging for me to drive to Abeokuta with Bro. Waley and his family and for picking me up at the airport when I flew back from Lagos. We had great evangelistic meetings there with 1,823 people trusting Christ. I also want to thank you for lining up 2 schools where I was privileged to preach there in Abuja. My prayer and hope is that the Lord continues to bless you and your precious family and Truth Baptist Church.
Happy in His harvest,
Dr. David P. Douglass