May/June '08

July 14, 2008

After conducting a great revival meeting in March; our church topped that with its first-ever Pastors’ School. Truth Baptist Church hosted a Soul-Winning and Leadership Conference July 7-10 with Evangelist Dr. Mike Wells of International World Wide Evangelism. Another evangelist and two of our supporting church pastors joined him, and we also welcomed more than 40 independent Baptist pastors from all over Nigeria for the gathering. Over 200 people attended each night service that featured two sermons (Bro. Ron Gensaw and I joined our four American visitors to be the preachers for the week), and the morning sessions incorporated three hours of teaching. Our visitors preached in each of Abuja’s four independent Baptist churches for two Sundays, spoke in several schools throughout the week, and visited the village ministries (two churches and five chapels) that have been started outside of the capital city. As a result, more than 800 people were saved during the 10 days of activities in the conference, schools, churches, villages, and personal soul-winning.

Because much money has been invested into the buildings on our church property, we were able to house 27 visiting pastors during the conference, along with seven additional families. Our Ladies Fellowship did an outstanding job of feeding almost 100 out-of-town visitors three meals each day (Monday evening through Thursday afternoon). The attendees were presented with eight unique ministries based in several places throughout Nigeria led by different pastors that seek to be a blessing to the independent Baptists; our Bible college (with plans of starting in August 2009) was also featured. Many free materials were given to each delegate, there was plenty of time for fellowship and Q & A, the congregational singing and song specials were exciting, and the preaching was spirit-filled, evidenced by 20 men on the last night surrendering themselves to be preachers of the Gospel! Several pastors told me it was the first pastors’ conference they had ever been invited too, and others told us that it was the best!

In May, we were privileged to host a single lady visitor [Joy Bowman pictured with Victoria] from the coast of Mississippi who has known our family and our sending church for several years. She is completing her training at Crown College and visited us as a part of her internship requirement. In more than two weeks she taught Sunday school, conducted Bible clubs, lectured to the Temple Baptist Institute ladies, went soul-winning, and even sang in our choir. Sabrina and I never tire of having American visitors, and there is always something to keep them busy!

Below is a letter from Miss Joy Bowman, a senior at Crown College in Powell, Tennessee:

Staying in Nigeria for 16 days, from May 16 to June 2, taught me many valuable lessons. Once in Nigeria, I witnessed the day to day life of the Holmes’ family. I learned that missionaries are just as “human” as we are in the United States. They have their ups and downs, joys, disappointments, and challenges. Their children behave just like any other child.

Missionaries need prayer on a daily basis. While I was there, Mark’s broken car radiator was used to try to discourage him. This showed me first hand that many foreign countries do not have all the modern conveniences that we Americans take for granted. This incident was definitely a test in patience.

It seemed to me that the “challenges” Mark and Sabrina face can be magnified, due to the adjustment of living conditions and conveniences they remember and once enjoyed. During the first week, I had the privilege of experiencing electricity for four hours a day. This gave me a greater appreciation for electricity, candles, and the many comforts in America. One thing that impressed me about Mark and Sabrina is that I did not hear them complain one time about the different situations they encounter including the warm weather. They have learned to make the most out of every circumstance.

“Where God guides, He provides”. The Holmes’ family is a living example that God has blessed them with good health, even in the midst of a malaria filled country. God has protected them from getting this disease. Mark and Sabrina only took malaria pills for the first six months in Nigeria. Their children, Joseph, Victoria, and Brian, are healthy, vibrant, and full of energy.
I was glad to have been apart of the ministries of Truth Baptist Church. For two weeks, I taught the pre-school Sunday school class under an oak tree. This was an experience in itself! I thoroughly enjoyed teaching God’s precious Word to all twenty kids. They were so well behaved! I learned that having children ministries is a way to reach the entire family with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many times, parents would visit the church just to allow their children to attend the children’s programs.

The first week, I had the privilege of being Sabrina’s soul-winning partner. I am so grateful that the Lord allowed us to lead two ladies to Him. I am praying that God will send more people to Nigeria to co-labor with the Holmes family. Each week, I was involved in Bible clubs. I thoroughly enjoyed going to the orphanage and witnessing first-hand the children’s thirst for God’s Word and His love for them. The children were so welcoming. I also conducted two more Bible clubs in the local neighborhoods.

In addition to ministering at the two churches, Mark drove me, along with some of the men from his church, to the surrounding villages. This was the test of endurance! I did not realize how exhausting a two hour trip over rough terrain would be! After we reached our destination, Mark had the privilege of baptizing fifteen people from the village churches, including the wife of one of the village pastors. The baptism was held outside in a pond of knee high water. Mark cautiously stepped in the water to make sure there were no “friends” waiting for him. I soon learned that there were five village churches in need of a pastor. I am thankful that Mark is training men in his Bible Institute to become pastors of these churches.

Being part of the Holmes family for two weeks made me see the need to consider some things. I learned that making your home as comfortable as possible with American conveniences will help with the cultural adjustment and alleviate some of life’s stresses. I am so thankful that God led me to visit Nigeria; I am also grateful to Mark and Sabrina for allowing me to stay with them. They were such gracious hosts.

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