My name is Joshua Holder. I have been married to my wife Melissa for fifteen years. We live with our four daughters, two nephews, and a niece in a small town in Western North Carolina called Robbinsville. We are privileged to be members of Grace Fellowship Baptist Church in our home town.
I grew up in a heavily Christian environment. My family had deep religious convictions and my local community had a strong Christian culture. Everyone was a “Christian” and I was no exception. I was coached into a profession of faith by a well-intended person as a six-year-old. For nearly two decades following, there was an endless cycle of hidden sin and sinner’s prayers, but with an abiding self-righteousness. This came to a climax shortly before I was married as I was being heavily influenced by the teachings of the Hebrew-roots movement. These teachings appealed nicely to my native love of self. They furthered my sense of superiority as I compared myself to others whom I considered to be “forsaking God’s Law.” I was, in every way, like the pharisee who prayed, “I thank you God that I am not like other men.” I was a “whitewashed tomb.”
But God showed me great mercy. The Law (contrary to my intentions) began to show me that I was quite lacking. The harder I strove to keep it, the more I despaired. It was during this time of rigid legalism that I was introduced to Reformed Theology. Through an exposition of Romans my great sin and folly became clear. I was looking to my own performance for acceptance before God. My heart was pierced through at this realization. I renounced my own self-efforts and began to trust in Christ to give me right standing before the Father. The Lord had granted to me repentance leading to life!
The Lord has continued to show me great mercy. Not the least of these kind providences is Reformed Baptist Seminary. RBS has made possible for me that which I would have never dreamed when I first began to feel aspirations toward the ministry. Having never finished college, living in a remote rural area, and having a rather large family to support, I could see no feasible way of gaining any formal, quality theological training. Then a friend and mentor in ministry suggested RBS to me. That was almost six years ago. Because of RBS’s flexibility and affordability, I have been able to gain precious training for ministry while working multiple jobs, running a small construction business, raising a large family, and being engaged in ministry in my local church. To be able to do seminary without having to forsake clear commands and duties is an inestimable privilege, one for which I magnify the grace of God.
My studies at RBS have already served to increase my effectiveness as a servant of Christ, both in public exposition and in personal evangelism. In addition to these, the instruction in practical theology is full of zealous wisdom that ― if heeded and applied ― will make me a better pastor. Please pray that God would give me grace to be a good steward of what he has so bounteously provided through the Reformed Baptist Seminary.