Meet the evangelist
Keith Holmes is the evangelist of Hope Community Church. He is married to Ruth. Andrew has lived in Covent Garden sin ce 2016.
In 2016 together with my wife Ruth, we moved from deepest Buckinghamshire to the little house we now live in provided by the church. I’d spent the the previous two and a half years at London Theological Seminary where they train men to be preachers and pastors. I was then fairly surprised when the invitation to come to Covent Garden was to be the Evangelist. I’d done some open-air work in Finchley during my time at college but had never considered myself in this way. Despite this I enthusiatically began the work knocking on doors here in Covent Garden usually with a colleague most often being Tim but also on occasion other members of the church. We delivered tracts, purpose printed Johns Gospels, Marks Gospels and a book written by one of the church members called Looking for Love. I found the nextdoor system fairly helpful and I was able to engage with a number of people who had specific needs from computer rebuilding to floor sanding, book transporting and people transporting.
I was also able to begin a one to one with one of these contacts however the pandemic brought that to a premature close. Since the pandemic I have continued in my work supporting homeless, rough sleepers and other needy people intially through All Souls Local Action Network (ASLAN) Tea Run where once a month I would drive a small team down to various central London stops and feed people with porridge, boiled eggs, sandwiches, tea and coffee etc. This developed for me into supporting London City Mission’s Corner House project – a halfway house for those looking to get off the streets into work, a bank account and a home. When the Pandemic hit the Corner House closed as did the Tea Run so I made a few runs in the ASLAN Mini Bus to take rough sleepers to the Everyone In provided accommodation before joining the rota at St Patricks Soho Square feeding upwards of 140 rough sleepers and others daily. Through this work I came to know an 87 year old lady who was having housing problems and whom I’ve been able to help, a 64 year old man with medical problems who I was able to take to hospital and where he remains in isolation having caught the virus whilst in hospital.
Preaching through the Beatitudes it was my turn when we reached Blessed are the Merciful. Just as I stood up to preach 6 of the rough sleepers from Soho Square came into church (either 30 minutes late for the start of the service or 30 minutes early for the ‘community meal we provide) and my 20 minute sermon became 45 minutes as I pleaded with them to show mercy to one another. Andrew told me that showed I was definitley an Evangelist!
The message hit home with them as a few weeks later one of the guys who’d had a few too many contended that I was wrong since we shouldn’t forgive those who do us harm but rather see them punished or else punish them ourselves!
3 of the rough sleepers meet with me weekly for a hot lunch followed by a study through the book The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, which takes the reader through the Old Testament promises of a special deliverer promised from earliest days who would come to reconcile us to God. I look forward to completing the book in the early weeks of 2021 and seeing if any of them want to give their lives to Jesus.
Before going to Theological College I spend 6 months working for a tech firm after 22 years working for BT. Apparently I was conditioned during my time at BT which didn’t fit the ethos of the tech firm so my stay there was truncated! In the interim I worked with a gentleman who had two important inventions that I was assisting him take through patent and into production. However I was unable to maintain the position due to the explosive personality of the gentleman concerned.