As many of you know, Pastor Martin Holdt went home to be with the Lord last week after a sudden and short illness. Pastor Holdt was a much-loved and highly-respected Reformed Baptist pastor in South Africa. His son, Jonathan, is also a pastor in South Africa, and I’ve got to know him through his ThM studies at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He penned this beautiful tribute to his father which he gave me permission to share.
I would like to briefly mention 3 areas of my father’s life that stand out:
Firstly, I think of his preaching ministry
As a child even in my unconverted state I believed that my father was the greatest preacher ever. I clearly remember the passion and fervour with which he preached. He loved Christ. He loved the Word of God. He loved the church of our Lord Jesus.
If I were to describe my father in a simple biblical phrase it would be with the words “man of God.” Like Moses, like Elijah he was a man of God. Those of you who knew him will remember him as a man of godly conviction and persuasion. He stood firm on the reformation principal of “Sola Scriptura” – The Word of God alone. He did not make decisions in his ministry as to what was popular in evangelical circles; he did not pander to human applause; his pastoral leadership and decision making was based upon the principle “What does the Word of God say?” When he preached one had no doubts that his goal was to preach the uncompromised truth of the Word. He had a fear of God which superseded any fear of man which enabled him to remain firmly committed to the truth when others in the ministry would compromise to popular appeal. He would no doubt want me to appeal to those of you who are ministers of the gospel here today to be faithful to the Word rather than seeking worldly fame and applause.
Secondly, I think of my father’s prayer life
I do not doubt that my dad was in the words spoken to Daniel “a man greatly beloved” of the Lord. He walked with God. He communed with God. He spent hours in prayer interceding for the cause of Christ. In his prayer book he would write the names of his family members, his friends and each member of his congregation. He would pray each day for each of these names, rising early in the morning hour and spending time with God in prayer. I remember what an impact my dad’s prayers had on me prior to my conversion. Leaving for work at about 6:30am in the morning I can still recall my father’s fervent prayers as I walked past his study window each day. What an impression it made upon me. He was indeed an Elijah when it came to prayer. What a blessing his prayers were to so many indeed even to this country.
One friend sent a message after the home-going of my father “A mighty warrior has left our ranks.” What a call this is for us to take up the challenge to be fervent in prayer; to step into the gap that my father has left and resolve to become prayer warriors; mighty intercessors for the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. May a double portion the Spirit of Elijah that clothed my father fall upon us who are called to labour in the gospel that we might become fervent prayer warriors for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, I think of my father’s example
One of the greatest gifts my father has left us is his godly example. He is an example of faithfulness – faithfulness to his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ; faithful to the Word of God; faithful to his marriage vows…faithful in pastoring and preaching the Word; Faithful! Before I began my ministry he said to me “There are 3 things you must pray against every day – Pride, covetousness, and sexual immorality” I have never forgotten that and daily make that my cry too. His example of faithfulness is what we are all called to emulate in these last days. What an example he has left us in a life of holiness. The other wonderful example he left was in the area of his sacrificial love and generosity. He would impoverish himself in order to bless others. I know that not only have his immediate children benefited from his rich generosity toward us but so many others have as well. When my father became aware of needs, he did not hesitate to give. If you ever hesitated to receive the gift he wanted to give he would say “Don’t rob me of my blessing. It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
If anything my father’s life is a testimony of God’s faithfulness to him. My father would not want us to paint a picture of a perfect man. Before my father died when I visited him in hospital we were talking about the grace of God. He quoted John Newton’s words to me who was beginning to lose his memory “Two things I remember: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.” My dad’s hope was firmly placed upon the Lord Jesus for grace and mercy. He knew his sins had been forgiven and that heaven was his destiny. He could lift his hands on his hospital bed when the elders of Constantia Park Baptist came to pray and say “O, what amazing peace!” God was there for him in his greatest hour of need. As he lay on his death bed, he was upheld by the grace of God. There was not one word of complaint. He spoke of how blessed he was. The grace of God shone through him even in his last days.
He will be sorely missed. We will cherish every memory of him. We will remember his godly example. We will strive to emulate that in some way. But above all we will praise the God of grace who saved him; the Lord Jesus who came into this world to bear his sin on calvary; who rose from the dead that he too might one day rise forth from his grave; who went into heaven to prepare a place for him; and who welcomed him there with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
On my mother’s grave stone my father had the words engraved “Forever with the Lord!” We can too echo those words now for him.
Martin Holdt has in the words of the apostle Paul has fought the good fight, run the race, and kept the faith. He has been welcomed into his eternal home in the presence of Christ forever.
The challenge to us is to follow his example even as he followed Christ Jesus his Saviour – to remain faithful to the Word of God; to be uncompromising as far as God’s truth is concerned and to walk with God as he did; to become men and women of God so that we too might be welcomed into glory with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Lastly – to Elsabe – we as children have grown to love you and appreciate you and we will be there for you in the days ahead. But most importantly we know that Christ will be there for you who said “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”