How It All Began
The year 1961 was the year that changed the landscape of not only the lives of Holmes and Rosie Williams but it was one that would change the landscape of the island of Barbados which would later extend to the Caribbean and even more so the world. How did it all begin?
Holmes was raised in a religious home. That upbringing resulted in him and his fiancée Rosie Williams attending house meetings in Belleville and it was through these meetings that Holmes started to develop a passion and strong desire to know God in a deeper way. This deeper longing in his heart for more of the God who he had heard of but never encountered led to him asking the missionary from Canada who was conducting the house meetings that he and Rosie were attending to conduct meetings in their home as well. He wanted him to commence these meetings when they returned from their honeymoon and after discussion and prayer, he agreed to do so.
In 1961, Holmes and Rosie attended a crusade sponsored by The Glad Tidings Evangelistic Centre In Bank Hall, St. Michael. It was during these outdoor meetings that both of them were dramatically converted to a personal faith in Christ. It was during these meetings that they received the baptism of The Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
At the time of his conversion to Christianity, Holmes was one of the youngest banking executives in the Caribbean and he was continuing to move up the ladder in the cooperate world of banking and finance. However, God had other plans. Just after his conversion in 1961, God gave Holmes a vision that very same year. In this vision, he saw masses of the world standing before him and he was reaching out to touch them, praying for them to be delivered, blessed and that God would touch their lives.
It is important to note that during this period of time when Holmes made that bold step to become a Christian that the Pentecostal message at that time was frowned upon and it was associated with the elderly. Unfortunately, Holmes and Rosie suffered the same fate as their families disowned them for a long time after their conversion because they left the traditional church. However, even though man abandoned them, God didn’t.
After a year of conducting meetings in their home, the Canadian missionary called and told him that he was returning to Canada and that he felt that he should be the one who should take up the reigns and lead the church. At the time of the missionary asking, Holmes, through the vision, already knew that The Lord was calling him but he did not feel that he was ready to take up that mantle. With that in mind, he told the Pastor from Canada that he would assist in financing a pastor if one could be found to lead the church. Therefore, a search was made to find a pastor but it came to no avail.
With no pastor in sight and with time running out before the missionary would be returning home, he asked for Holmes and Rosie to come to his house for tea. During that visit, he explained to them that when he came to Barbados 17 years ago, that he and his wife inquired of The Lord of who would take up the mantle in Barbados in terms of preaching the gospel. At their request, God gave them a vision. In this vision, they saw shaves of wheat blowing in the wind and bending down like if they were worshipping God (referred to the church that God would raise up in Barbados) and then gave a vision of the person who would pastor the church and that when Holmes came into the house meetings in September, he recognized him as the man in the vision and so did his wife. Even after Holmes heard this compelling experience that his leader explained to him, he still was not convinced that he was the one for the job.
Even in his unbelief, Holmes could not shake off the feeling of God was placing in his heart, and took a step towards fulfilling that calling and enrolled in theology courses at The West Indies School Of Theology (WIST), the official training institute of PAWI in 1963 and by May 1964, he completed the required studies and was ordained to sacred ministry at PAWI’s General Conference that same month.
The year 1963 was another pivotal moment in the lives of Holmes and Rosie. A particular crusade was held in Queen’s Park. On Sunday, the closing day of the meetings, it was estimated that 65,000 people was at the ground for the culmination of the move of The Holy Spirit. This powerful meeting resulted in over 40,000 people accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. This wonderful outpouring of The Holy Spirit led to Holmes becoming because as he saw the great crowd of people coming to The Lord, he realized that there were not many churches in the island to teach and preach the gospel to these people, who were hungry for God and the gospel.
In the middle of this encounter and as he saw the great crowd of people, he heard God say to him, “give them somewhere to go”. The Evangelist came a few minutes later and told him that he wanted to have a special service tomorrow evening at The Christian Mission Tabernacle on Tudor Street for all the converts and he wanted him to be there because God had shown him that He wanted Holmes to be the pastor of the church. This commission resulted in him expanded from just having house meetings to have services in this church in 1963.
In the midst of pursuing his studies in theology, God had continually to speak to him about giving up his job and going into full-time ministry. Around this time, his Manager called him into his office and presented him with a cheque from the Head Office that would have fully assisted him in caring for his son who had to be taken to Canada to seek medical attention for complications that he was having. There, they stayed for three (3) months. It seemed that everything was coming into place but still he felt out of place because he knew what God had been pressing on his heart for him to do. Therefore, with a greater belief and trust in God, he gave in his resignation a few days later, along with the cheque that was presented to him and went into full-time ministry in 1963.
This proved to be a difficult decision initially as after resigning from his job, the church that he pastored informed him that they would give him a monthly salary of $100.00. Unfortunately, his house rent was $100 a month. However, when God calls you, He will provide and that is just what He did.
His bold step of faith led to him having another marvelous experience with God in 1964. As he and Rosie were finishing their devotions before heading off to bed, there was sudden hush in their bedroom. It was in the stillness of the moment that he heard the audible voice of God and he was given instructions into inquiring about some land to build a church. He had laid a particular area of land on their hearts and they went driving but they did not see anything at first but as they went through the area a second time, Rosie saw the land with the landmarks that Holmes had described to her.
After searching the land that was instructed to him, he met with the owner of the property. The hand of God was truly on Holmes’ life and God granted him favor with the owner as he told him that he could have as much of the land as he desired. After informing him about how much of the land he wanted, Holmes was informed that the total cost of the desired amount of land would have been $30,000.00. Unfortunately, he did not have the money to pay for the land. The owner of the property proceeded to ask him how much money he would need to take care of the building of the church and he gave him an estimate of $100,000.00. With no money to pay for the land or the building, it seemed only a miracle from God would make this dream a reality. Holmes received the shock of his life as this man, who he had never met before, told him that he would take of everything and that to just go to the bank for the loan and that he would endorse the note for him. He quickly inquired from the owner why he would have endorsed any note concerning him, especially for Holmes, who he did not know. His response to Holmes’ question was that even though he never met him before, his reputation went before him and due to all the sacrifices that he had made, he wanted to assist him.
So with the financially aspect secured, the initial building of the sanctuary started in 1964. It was constructed to seat 500 people initially and the congregation began worshipping in what was known as Evangel Temple even before the windows and doors were properly installed. It was during an initial prayer meeting in this unfinished building in 1964 that God once again spoke to Holmes. He said onto him, “Son I will give you faithful men and women who would stand before you and enable you to accomplish the task which I have given you and to fulfill a vision”. He further added, “ I would raise up this church to be a lighthouse to the world”.
By 1965, the building beautiful 120 X 50 church, designed by Barbadian architect Mr. McClean was finished. Some helpful features by Holmes and Reverend Paul Olsen were added to the building project as it was built to accommodate 1200-1500 worshippers. A prayer room was also built to accommodate 200 people at any given time and oppositely adjourning to that room was a Book Store, which carried a wide range of books and religious materials.