Holt adoptee and former Holt board member Steven Stirling reflects on Molly Holt’s many years of service to children. Steven lived at the Ilsan Center in Korea before he was adopted in 1966, at the age of 11.
Molly Holt is the perfect example of a faithful servant of our Lord. My first memory of Molly is from her mother’s book about Holt’s beginnings, Seed from the East. Molly was in nursing school in 1956 when her parents, Harry and Bertha Holt, began the Holt adoption program in Korea. At the time, she could not help care for the orphans, but I recall from the book that Molly told her parents as soon as she finished nursing school, she would work to help orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children in Korea.
Molly was true to her words. More than 56 years after she made this commitment, she continues to serve “the least of these” – the disabled children in care at Ilsan. I didn’t have the chance to spend much time with Molly until her mom, Grandma Holt, passed in 2000, and my wife and I traveled to Ilsan for Grandma’s life celebration.
Here at Ilsan, I remember that Molly shared her room with several disabled women, who she cared for. Many current and former residents have stayed at Molly’s house. She often cares for residents who are sick, or nearing the end of their life, as well as those who are profoundly disabled. And just about every child who enters care at Ilsan will first stay at her house before moving to another residence. During our visit, Molly’s house was always bustling with activity, as many residents gathered to talk and share stories. True to character, Molly graciously welcomed everyone who stopped for a visit. They are her family.
During our time together, Molly’s heart was very heavy. Her mom was tremendously well respected in Korea, and local officials treated her as though she were a head of state. The celebration of her life came with much fanfare. Numerous political personnel attended, including the first lady of Korea. Molly wanted to keep to her mom’s wishes to give the glory to our Lord Jesus for what He had accomplished through the Holts – and not to give the glory to her mom. But naturally, in Korea, Bertha Holt is an iconic figure! The planned services would definitely glorify Grandma Holt. Molly’s heart was heavy, as she struggled with how to observe her mom’s wishes. At the end, she gracefully and diplomatically asked several of her mom’s old friends to speak. They spoke of our Lord’s faithfulness through Bertha. And when it came time for her to speak, Molly – clothed in humility – gave the glory to Jesus Christ our Lord and what He did through her parents.
My final reflection about Molly continues to this day. My wife and I have had the opportunity to travel to Ilsan five to six times since 2000, when we celebrated Bertha’s homecoming. One of the things I always look forward to when traveling to Ilsan is visiting with my childhood friends in Molly’s residence. It feels almost like I’m coming home during these visits, when we sit surrounded by volunteers who quietly provide lunch and feed the residents who are unable to feed themselves. While I have forgotten how to speak Korean, Molly speaks both Korean and English and is comfortable going between languages. In these moments of sharing stories and old memories, we often turn to the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus and what He has done for us.
For me, Molly is the perfect example of a “faithful servant.” As it says in Isaiah 43: 5-7, “Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” These are our Lord’s words. Harry and Bertha Holt and their daughter Molly are faithful servants. Today, Molly continues to serve our Lord and glorify Him who made all this possible. It is a blessing for me to be called His child – and a friend of Molly Holt.
Steven Stirling | Richmond, Virginia