The truth reached Guyana (British Guyana) in the 1890’s as a consequence of the vigorous preaching of Bro. Blenman in many parts of the Caribbean. In Guyana, the gospel light dimmed in the first half of the 1900’s until, in the early 1950’s, Bro. Roland Smith met Lorraine Spence. Lorraine became an enthusiastic disciple of our Lord and was baptised in 1953. At her urging, Bro. Harry Whittaker mustered up his courage and persuaded Bro. Alan Hayward to join him in the summer of 1955 to take a preaching effort to Guyana. The citizens of Georgetown and the surrounding area were glad to hear the power of the word so enthusiastically preached by these two brethren.
It became obvious that the good work of the previous year required follow-up. In 1956, Bro. Will Watkins and his wife, Sis. Myfanwy (both from Wales), spent a good deal of time in Guyana. Gradually the light of the truth spread into the surrounding towns and villages with ecclesias established in Eccles, Mocha, Kilcoy and the area of Berbice. Brethren from the UK and North America were soon committed to assisting the work. These included Ron Abel, Don Styles, Barry Parkes, David and Carol Simpson, Tom Hawksworth, Ted and Delores Sleeper and others.
Ruby Holland was the organist at the local Anglican church in Bartica. She heard the good news of the coming kingdom from Bro. Watkins. She listened attentively and was increasingly persuaded of the truth. She continued to play the organ at the Anglican Church before rushing up the street to play for the little assembly of disciples who sat at the feet of Bro. Will! Then, on July 18, 1958, she left behind her former associations and became Sis. Ruby by taking on Jesus’ saving Name and thus became one of the early converts to the truth during its revival in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Her warm personality was evident in her generous hospitality. Soon her home became the center for missionary activity. Though sorely handicapped by the lack of a brother’s help, she made a bold stand for the truth. She conducted a Sunday school in her house for interested neighbours. She organised a CYC to take place on Sunday afternoons. In the cool of a Sunday evening she held a Bible class for the three or four friends who showed interest in the Bible. On Saturdays she organised a higher-level instruction class at which brethren Ron Abel and Don Styles led the studies. Her home was open to any who savoured the truth.
She organised a Bible campaign in 1964 at Bartica. Although she was in isolation, several brethren from other parts of Guyana and some from the UK assisted her in spreading the Good News of the coming Kingdom.
Her husband, Cyril, obeyed the gospel call and in October, 1964, he was baptised by the brethren on the island of Barbados. Her noble example and quiet teaching skills gradually won over her husband to respond to the call of God. But that’s not all. Their daughter, Yvonne, was also baptised that same year. Ruby was overjoyed to share her hope with her family. Sis. Alice Patrong, another daughter, was more recently baptised and is a member of the Toronto East ecclesia.
In 1982, Cyril and Ruby Holland emigrated to Canada and became valued members of the Toronto East ecclesia. Bro Cyril fell asleep in the hope of resurrection in 1984 leaving Ruby a widow for 22 years. Of course she missed her life-long companion, but she soldiered on with a certain resolute manner.
Brethren, sisters and young people in Guyana and in Canada have all grown spiritually as a consequence of knowing her. Though she developed diabetes and was blind in her senior years, she showed remarkable faith and patience when tested and tried. She knew her Bible so well that, even though she could no longer see to read, she would recite the verses being read to her right along with the reader! Her insight into spiritual matters and her confidence in seeing her Lord in the day of resurrection set a good example for all who had the joy of knowing her. Her faith was unshakeable. Her down-to-earth wisdom was penetrating.
Truly a mother in Israel has fallen asleep. We miss her wisdom and her gentle ways but look forward to the dawn of the new day when all shall be made new and to the hope that will soon see her infused with life eternal.