At the beginning of November, my family embarked on the first big U.S. excursion with our newest member, Aaron Samuel, to meetings in Florida and South Carolina. We reported in two Tampa area churches and were grateful participants in a Jubilee along the Carolina Coast. In between, two nights were spent in Charleston. With the sightseeing in a historically beautiful city, meeting up with friends at each place, and a church providing a condo along the beach—it turned into a refreshing vacation for our crew.
Both Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were enjoyed with Sabrina’s family and included brief trips to the Mississippi Coast for celebrations with my relatives. At the beginning of December, I had a very productive trip to the Midwest, highlighted by being the Missions Conference keynote speaker for a church pastored by a close friend of our family. In Nigeria, another semester of our seminary was concluded in the middle of December, but not before the students traveled three hours together to help a church led by one of our graduates; the “seminary outreach” week has become something to which all of our students look forward.
Just before the New Year, our family and ministry were shaken by the news of the untimely passing of a great friend, Pastor Jared Decker, from cardiac arrest before the age of 36. Bro. Jared visited our ministry on six different occasions and was fundamental in the growth and expansion of two youth camps; his church in Alabama was a faithful supporter of both our work and a couple of church plants. The Decker family has known Sabrina and me since we were teenagers, and we’re planning some time to see and hopefully encourage his wife, their children, and the church.
Overall, I believe this has been our most productive furlough ever. We were able to make some finishing arrangements on a container of Scriptures that will be shipping in January. More money was raised and consequential work completed for the City of Refuge project; the first families have already been moved into the housing quarters. Plans are underway for six Soul-Winning and Leadership Conferences and five Student Missions Institutes for Training in Evangelism with several visiting guest preachers. Also, we’ve met with potential new missionary families who’ve planned survey trips to our work for 2019. Sabrina and I are looking forward to sending you many good reports once we return to the field.
Mark Holmes, written 19 January 2019