William D. Holtry
Everything started with one man's vision. His name was William Holtry. He was a man of many talents and passions who tried to live four lives in one. He was a son, a brother, a husband, a Dad, a mechanic, a pastor, a missionary. He was a friend, a confidant and an encourager. Will loved music and enjoyed playing the piano, the violin, and the harmonica. He loved to drive from the roads of Pennsylvania to the Alaskan highway to the German autobahn; he had a keen sense of direction. As a child, he was always tearing things apart. One time, when he was about 6 years old, his mother found him tearing the telephone apart under the kitchen table. As he grew, the things he tore apart became bigger. Fortunately, he learned how to fix them and became a talented mechanic. He was a true German at heart; he had a love for diesel engines, Deutz tractors and VW’s.
But his biggest love was for people. Will associated with and entertained people of all classes and walks of life. He saw no differences. As a preacher he was known for his honesty and ability to bring the truth of God’s Word into the everyday life.
No one will ever forget his deep bass voice. If you couldn’t see him, you could hear him. This was best heard when he sang his rendition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot". He loved children, especially dedicating them to the Lord. On their special day each was presented with a Bible, always with a personal handwritten note. He has dedicated children at home and around the world, the last dedication being held in Vienna, Austria, on July 25, 2004.
Will’s love for people and especially his deep and passionate love for Jesus, his Lord, took him to Romania in 1991. His life was never the same; God’s calling placed on his big and compassionate heart gave birth to "My Brother’s Keeper" Foundation in 1993. His life has touched more lives then we’ll ever be able to know or count on this earth. There will never be one man to fill the shoes he wore, nor the path he walked. It was one filled with great pain, but also great joy. He left us each with a challenge to love the Lord our God with everything that we are and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now we know in part; but then shall we know even also we are known." 1 Corinthians 13:12
It was December of 1990. The world had seen great changes in the past year; Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain fell leaving Central and Eastern Europe in need for help, both materially and spiritually. William Holtry had developed over the years an unusual interest for this part of the world, reading as much about it as he could. So, that December, when he was proposed by a group of Baptist pastors to go to Romania on a short mission trip, he agreed eagerly. They arrived in Bihor county in January of 1991, preaching in big city churches but also in remote villages.
Will was impressed by the Romanians' willingness to walk four hours just to hear God's Word, by their faith but also by their poverty. Nonetheless he thought it was his first and last visit to this country.
On the long flight back to the States, a question kept nagging him. It was a verse from Genesis chapter where Cain asked God: Am I my brother's keeper? For Will it became a personal question: Am I my brother's keeper? He had to find an answer. God's answer was as clear as broad daylight: Yes, you are your brother's keeper. What are you going to do about it?
Will knew he had to do something, but didn't know when and how. Once home, he was invited to several churches to speak about his trip. God started opening doors and people's hearts and soon a bank account called "My Brother's Keeper" was created. The funds were directed towards the greatest need Will saw in Romania: the need for Bibles. MBK bought and distributed over 10000 Bibles over the next 10 years.
In 1993 MBK became legal entity in Romania. It purchased a building in the village of Batar that was called the mission house. The ministry also started to grow: from simple Bible distribution to helping build churches, to orphanage work, radio broadcasts, children and youth summer camps. Batar in itself had become a mission field.
» 1996 Cighid, a orphanage/hospital for children with mental and physical disabilities was discovered and thus started a long partnership.
» 1997 MBK initiated the first summer camp for children with disabilities. Now the camps are for children coming from poor or dysfunctional homes.
» 1999-2000 MBK Romania went through some internal changes and resurfaced as a new entity called My Brother's Keeper International with William Holtry as the American Founder and Mihaela Fodor as the Romanian founder.
MBK has kept some old projects and added some new. In the States MBK was incorporated in the State of Pennsylvania and gained its 501(c)3 status.