Meet the evangelist
Keith Holmes is the evangelist of Hope Community Church. He is married to Ruth. Keith has lived in Covent Garden since 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 in Covent Garden. 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 mainly to be an 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 began the work knocking on doors here in Covent Garden enthusiastically, usually with a colleague most often being Tim but also on occasion other members of the church. We delivered tracts, purpose printed John's Gospels, Mark's Gospels and a book written by one of the church members called Looking for Love. I've found the Nextdoor system fairly helpful and I have been able to help a number of people with specific needs from computer rebuilding to floor sanding, as well as transporting books and people.
Since the pandemic I have continued in my work supporting rough sleepers and other people in need. This had begun through a tea run with All Souls Local Action Network (ASLAN), where once a month I would drive a small team to various central London stops to provide people with porridge, boiled eggs, sandwiches, tea and coffee, etc. I also supported London City Mission’s Corner House project – a halfway house for those looking to get off the streets into work, a bank account and ultimately, a home. When the Pandemic hit the Corner House closed and the tea run also came to an end. I made a few runs in the ASLAN minibus, taking rough sleepers to accommodation provided by the 'Everyone In' project, before joining the rota at St Patricks, Soho Square, who were feeding upwards of 200 rough sleepers and others daily.
Through this work I've been able to help several people with particular issues, including an older lady with housing problems and a man who needed serious medical help. I also encouraged the church to begin a weekly 'community meal' for some of the people I had met.
What I really want to do is to introduce people to Jesus. It was great to have a weekly study-lunch with 3 guys, using a book called The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus. This takes the reader through the Old Testament and explains how promises from earliest days of a special deliverer who would come to reconcile us to God are fulfilled in Jesus.
One Sunday, it was my turn to preach when we reached 'Blessed are the merciful' in the Beatitudes. Just as I began some of our friends from Soho Square arrived (either 30 minutes late for the start of the service or 30 minutes early for the ‘community meal!) and my 20 minute sermon stretched to 45 minutes as I pleaded with the congregation to receive God's mercy and show mercy to one another. Andrew told me that was an evangelist's response!
A few weeks later one of the guys 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. So there's still work to do!