November allowed us the opportunity to host the first visitor from our sending church in Mississippi. Brother Eddie Holt was my deacon when I was called to preach twelve years ago in my hometown. It was a special privilege to have someone who has known me since the beginning to come and see what the Lord is doing for our family and ministry now in Nigeria.
On November 26th, the second Sunday that Bro. Eddie was here, we planned what I called an “Unveiling Service” to reveal to our people that we were purchasing the church property. A record attendance of 168 came to discover what my secret announcement was, and their ensuing excitement about the land was thrilling. In the message, I assured the members that our investment in the work meant Sabrina and I were there to stay; then, I also challenged our faithful to be ready to sacrifice and give so that the land could be truly theirs someday. Please pray as we are continuing to raise the $50,000 that I mentioned in October. So far, our supporting churches and friends have given about $15,000. Many have gotten involved, and we greatly appreciate your contributions.
A great custom that has been enjoyable to learn is the “naming ceremony” practiced by families in our area. Traditionally, when a baby is born, the Nigerian mother and father wait about eight days before they name their child. I recently performed my first such ceremony when one of our new converts, Shekinah, gave birth to a baby girl. On Thursday, before our regular weekly prayer meeting, the mother’s family and friends were waiting for me at her home. I gathered them outside, prayed, explained about the Biblical importance of a name, and received an envelope from Shekinah. Inside that envelope was a name that had been prayerfully chosen by this new mother. When I saw the paper, I was startled, yet delighted, to see that the first name there was ….. Sabrina! Our grateful young convert had shown love and appreciation to her new pastor’s family by naming her child after my wife. A month later, I baptized Shekinah after our morning service. God has really begun to knit our heart with those of our church members.
Below is a letter from Bro. Holt describing his visit:
Abuja, Nigeria Trip Observations (Arrived November 18 and Departed December 05, 2006)
Pastor Dan Carr (Mark Holmes’ sending church Pastor) recommended to some of the men that we should support our Missionary Mark Holmes’ Family by visiting them from time to time. Being retired allowed me the opportunity to be our church’s first representative. My purpose defined to Mark was to be a set of helping hands with his activities and definitely not as a tourist. Mark’s suggested time frame was for three Sundays.
Although I was aware of the land acquisition and good progress, I was amazed at what I observed. Not only souls being won for the Lord’s service and His Heaven, but much more. Even with my limited vision, it was apparent that a God-blessed scriptural pattern was being established to reach the lost. It was no less than supernatural in how Mark had so quickly yielded to many of their cultural characteristics. This obviously allowed God to use him in making warm and fruitful connections with the nationals. This included their languages, cultural interactions, driving, and much more. I shared with Sabrina that all that he needed was some pigment alterations to be a Nigerian. It was amazing, or actually God’s miracle, in progress.
The Lord’s supernatural help for Mark, per Mark, and by observation included the outstanding support and cooperation of Ron Gensaw and family with their eight year’s experience. Yet, per Ron and observations, Mark was likewise a mutual compliment and another of God’s gifts to Brother Ron’s God-called work. In addition to both having churches, they are corporately teaching a Bible Institute for Nationals toward training effective servants, including pastors, and establishing village churches. Also they have other nationals involved in ministry that routinely are arranging outdoor meetings for Brother Ron and Mark to preach the gospel. I saw hundreds receiving Christ under Brother Ron’s preaching at a single meeting that I was privileged to attend.
My comment to them both was that it appeared to me that they were not trying to be original but were simply copying the scriptural pattern establish by Apostle Paul. My observation was that the contrast in ministering in Nigeria as compared to America was akin to going from grade school football to the National Football League. Both Brother Mark and Ron are students of other missionary activities and are using their successes and failures as learning tools. In talking with both, they still use their home pastors as their pastors. This is both scriptural and important, and my opinion is that all missionaries should function in a like manner of accountability and humility—or their support stopped.
The Sunday on November 26 at Truth Baptist Church was extra special. The theme was “Taking Possession,” as Pastor Mark announced to the members about their ownership of the property. The compound was to be their Church, Baptist College, School, Pastorium and other areas as the Lord leads. So very much, so very quickly, and, as Pastor Mark shared, “exceeding, abundantly, above” per Ephesians 3:20. This was exciting and their high attendance day of 168.
I have shared with Pastor Carr and congregation that I pray that we assist as needed in getting God’s vision of national pastors established in a church and pastorium in reaching their people. About $3,000 is what is needed to build a church and pastorium once God has a pastor and village or sight ready. God is abundantly blessing, as usual, in this God-given vision. This one page and my limited vision only captured little of what God is doing.
Eddie J. Holt