Holmeses raising support for Spain

Published 10:24 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2016

More than four years after they first left for the mission field, Kyle and Frances Holmes are back temporarily to raise support before they return to Spain.

“We went to Spain with one plan in mind, but God kind of redirected and changed the work we’re doing,” Kyle Holmes said this week.

Originally, Kyle Holmes — a retired Suffolk Police Department lieutenant — had hoped to work with the Christian Police Officers Association in Spain in a fledgling program called “Street Pastors.” He would have done ride-alongs with officers and acted as an intermediary with people in need of help.

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But as it turned out, that program never got off the ground. So he and Frances Holmes turned their attention to a faith-based social program called METAS, an acronym for the Spanish translation of marriage, education, work and social assistance.

Often, people will not come to the church for assistance, Kyle Holmes said, but they will come to METAS, even though the organization does not hide its Christian worldview from the community.

The organization offers a variety of programs, including counseling for married couples, a clothes closet and food pantry, workshops and more.

One of the most needed programs right now is teaching English as a second language, Frances Holmes said. Spain has lagged behind other European countries in teaching English, she said, and a high unemployment rate means people are eager to learn any kind of new skill to make themselves more marketable.

“They’re trying to catch up,” Frances Holmes said. “English is a real help to people trying to find work or people trying to keep their jobs.” Many are also interested in moving to England for work.

Kyle Holmes, whose father was a silversmith and taught him the trade, has had the chance to share that skill with others. He holds workshops where people can buy materials, make the jewelry and sell it. Many re-invest the proceeds into more materials so they can grow their business.

Kyle Holmes even helped a 16-year-old named Marcelo learn the trade so he could re-open his deceased father’s shop in Peru.

This spring, the Holmeses also started “little talks about values,” which they hold in a public space. Holding it in a public building encourages more people to come who would not come to a church, Kyle Holmes said.

The Holmeses gave God the glory for opening up the public space in Guadalajara, where they live, so they could have the talks. After the mayor gave approval, another city official tried to delay the program, but the Holmeses returned the next day. After many delays on the journey, they finally arrived and spoke to somebody different, who would not have been there if the Holmeses had arrived on time.

“I felt like God allowed us to be delayed,” Frances Holmes said. “It’s that kind of thing where we have seen God moving.”

Their relationship with the Christian Police Officers Association, where they initially hoped to serve, still has borne some fruit. The association was contacted by the U.S. military based in Madrid, near Guadalajara, about distributing toys the military had collected. The association contacted the Holmeses, and they were able to distribute the toys through their ministry.

While Spain is not often thought of as a prime destination for missionaries, the country is largely unreached by the evangelical church. Less than 1 percent of the population considers itself evangelical Christian, and more than 13 million live in municipalities where there is no evangelical church.

The Holmeses, who have lived in the Suffolk and Franklin areas since their childhood, are in the area through April 1 to raise support. They will return to Spain with more goals, such as moving the “little talks about values” to a more central location in order to get better attendance.

Frances Holmes said she would also like to start a community garden program and start teaching Spanish as a second language to the high number of immigrants and refugees in the city.

She would also like to start a program helping people find work, for example by offering scholarships for training courses.

Through all of their big plans, God has been faithful, the Holmeses said.

“Learning to rely on Him has been a process,” Kyle Holmes said. “I’ve watched God work and get us there.”

To support the Holmeses, visit www.send.org/holmes.