Martin Holdt (1941-2011)
Martin Holdt, well-known as an evangelical and Reformed leader in South Africa was suddenly taken from us on the last day of 2011.
He preached at the Afrikaans church in Montana on Christmas Day. He felt unwell and was admitted to hospital for tests the next day and the following day was diagnosed with liver cancer. His son David, pastor of Springs Baptist Church, testified that from that point his father sprinted toward heaven.
Born in 1941, Martin was converted at the age of 19, in August 1960. He trained for the ministry at the Baptist Theological College, Johannesburg. He was then called to serve in a church of 16 members in Pietersburg (now Polokwane).
In his first year there he embraced the doctrines of grace. This assembly grew significantly. Martin was then called to be the Baptist Union’s first home church planter and planted churches in Tzaneen, Phalaborwa and Newcastle, before being called to an established church in East London.
Following that, he was called by the Lynnwood Baptist Church to plant another church in the eastern suburbs at Constantia Park, Pretoria, a church from which he retired in 2011.
Previously, he had spent nine years building up a church near Johannesburg, which had declined in numbers.
Martin’s first wife Beryl was called home in September 1996. It was Martin’s daily practice to retire early at 9.00pm and rise for prayer and Bible study at 3.00am. This not only gave him uninterrupted time for Bible reading, prayer, preparation and study, but empowered him spiritually.
He was gifted with a metabolism to maintain this regime and also keep physically fit. He trained for marathon events, including the famous Comrades marathon (his best marathon time was two hours 50 minutes).
The call came to return to Constantia Park Baptist Church; Constantia Park has been responsible for church plants in Birchleigh, Kempton Park and Elardus Park. Martin married Elsabé du Plessis, who is an anaesthetist.
Martin always had concern for the Afrikaans-speaking people of South Africa and was rector of the Afrikaans Baptist Seminary. In recent years, sixty per cent of his preaching was in Afrikaans.
Two of the ministries he supported have brought exceptional blessing. The first is the Grace Conference, which began 21 years ago, and has increased in attendance to about 400. The second is the Augustine bookroom, which has become a well known and highly successful literature centre.
Martin is survived by five adult children, two of whom are Baptist pastors, and his wife Elsabé.