Charlie and Lourdes Holmes are missionaries in Thailand with the Philippine Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. They send the following letter regarding their ministry in a women’s prison and the retirement of a beloved pastor.
Pastor Kiatisak was one of the first converts in 1968. He graduated from Doane Baptist Seminary in 1978. When he returned to Thailand, he became the pastor of Grace Baptist Church, the first church that PABWE missionaries planted. He has been a pastor at the same church for 37 years. He has expressed his retirement to the church people and on July 20, the church officially conducted a retirement service for him. His daughter, Grace, and niece, Pet, have been the chief translators of Regular Baptist Press materials into the Thai language. [Read “Translation, Please.”] His very interesting personal testimony follows the report from Missionary Holmes below.
On July 31 we conducted our regular worship service inside the women’s prison. At least 300 people attended the meeting. Praise the Lord for three who accepted the Lord as their Savior. Only one soul can cause the angels to rejoice in Heaven.
Thank you for praying for our visit through the bars at the women’s prison. In March this year, they stopped our visit. Only relatives of the prisoners can visit. But on July 31 when we were inside, we were told that we could visit again but only one prisoner for each person. There are seven of us who regularly visit on Tuesday afternoon and so we can call out seven prisoners. For those of you who have been praying with us, your prayers have been answered. When everything else fails, prayer works. Thank you, Loving Heavenly Father, for answering our prayers.
Together for Christ in Thailand,
Charlie & Lourdes Holmes
PABWE missionaries in Thailand
Pastor Kiatisak’s testimony as told to Lourdes Holmes:
I took three sticks of incense and reverently placed them at the altar. I kneeled down and bowed three times. I looked up and glanced at the big Buddha image in our home. Pungent smoke from burning incense seemed to penetrate past my nose and lungs into my very being; it was a part of worshiping Buddha, and therefore was a part of me. That day I was ordained to be a Buddhist monk. The first step they had to do was to shave my eyebrows and head. Then the procession to the temple started. The women carried my monk’s robe on an ornate plastic tray. I had my hands held in a prayerful wai; lotus, candle, and incense sticks pressed between my fingers.
We reached the temple and I sat down the way monks do, and my mother, father, grandmother, brothers and sister, and friends all knelt before me and handed me all sorts of elaborate gifts as part of the ceremony of the ordination of the monk. The ceremony lasted 45 minutes. In the middle of the ceremony, I was taken out of the room to change into my monk’s saffron robes. The following day I knew I would get up early and go to the house. My parents would “wai” to me as a sign of respect and worship. They would then give me rice and other food as part of the monk’s daily alms round.
After I got out of the monkhood, I continued my schooling in Bangkok. My friends invited me to study English. The Filipino missionaries (the Gequillanas and Lourdes Jardinico, now Holmes) taught English free, but they taught the Bible too. I studied with them for almost one year and was not interested in the Word of God at all. I had made up my mind to get the language only because I knew I could get a good‐paying job if I knew English well. But God had been working in me, and my interest for the gospel started the first week of December 1968.
The invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ in John 14:6 kept ringing in my heart. I was filled with questions. The most disturbing ones were: Why did my parents worship me when I was a Buddhist monk? Was it because of my saffron‐robes? Had they ever known that deep in my heart I was not a changed person? Would Buddha punish me for unfaithfulness if I got interested in Christ? What is this about Christ bridging the gap between God and man?
These concepts were hard for me to understand because of my background in mysticism. As I listened to the Word of God explained and preached by the missionaries, I felt more convinced that I was a sinner and I needed to be saved. Finally the date came. On December 6, 1968, I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior in the first youth camp. It was there that I received the joy of being the child of God.
Growing as a Christian was rough for me at first, being the oldest son in the family. But through the prayer and encouragement of the missionaries, I withstood the trials and persecution from my family and friends. I left my job after three years and went to the Philippines to study at Doane Baptist Bible Seminary. During my internship in my country, the Lord gave me a precious wife. The two of us went back to the Philippines to finish my final year. Then we returned to Thailand and I became the pastor of Grace Baptist Church, the first church that PABWE missionaries planted.
The Lord has opened another ministry for me in the northern part of Thailand in Mandalay, Burma, reaching out to the tribal groups in those areas. There is no retirement in serving the Lord.