25 August 2013


By John Ollis

I feel very strongly in the Lord to write down my personal testimony before I commence my next series of blogs. In Psalm 107.2 we read, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”, in my daily prayer time I regularly reflect on the goodness of God over my life, and there wells up in my heart such a thankfulness for the awesome blessings of God.

It is said hindsight is 20/20 vision. I could never have dreamed of what would come out of my decision to accept Jesus into my heart.

My parents had come from England, from the same town, school and church, but because there was 13 years difference in their ages they had never met. My father immigrated to New Zealand met a woman there and married her. Divorce was difficult to obtain in 1he 1930’s so he crossed the Tasman and arrived in Melbourne. Soon after he met my mother and moved in with her (not very common in those days). They never married but something we never found out until I was in my 50’s, they actually celebrated an Anniversary every year.

My mother had taught Sunday School, but had never come to Christ, my father had made a decision for Christ in the Salvation Army sometime in his life, and even when drunk would pray the Lord’s prayer before he got into bed.

By the time I was 9 or 10 their drinking has got out of hand, even though they could still hold down a job. It was a very unhappy upbringing. In 1951 someone called at our house and invited me to start attending Sunday School which I did for a few months, and then somehow I ended up at the Salvation Army which was at least a further mile to walk each Sunday.

Quarterly the Army conducts a “Decision Day” during the Sunday School hour, and I went forwards and knelt at the Penitent Form (in some ways not understanding very much), but when I stood up, I knew I had passed from death into life, and my life has never been the same since. There came a desire definitely not born of myself to live a Godly life. Home life did not change but something had changed in me.

In the following year we moved into government housing and moved to a different suburb, initially I went to a  Baptist Sunday school but again found the Salvation Army in the neighbouring  suburb. There I was discipled and become a Soldier (member) and wore a uniform.

Annually, the Salvation Army conduct Youth Councils over a weekend and much emphasis is placed  on full time service. I believe it was in my fourteenth year during the Youth Council I heard the call of God to ministry, again this changed my life, and  from then my mind was focused on going to College to train for ministry.

In a later Youth Council I met some young people from Wangaratta and decided to move there and become involved in the Salvation Army there. This again was a decision that would cause my life to change again.

Into the Salvation Army came these two spinster ladies who were school teachers, they were “Pentecostal” but there was not a Pentecostal church in Wangaratta in those days. They were Godly women but in hindsight probably unbalanced in some ways.

They lent me a book written by William Booth-Clibborn a grand son of the Founder of the Salvation Army  William Booth. The book was entitled  “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit” the Booth-Clibborn branch of the family had become Pentecostals. Because of the Salvation Army link I read the book and became hungry for more of God in my life. I remember one of the ladies saying to me, “John when you get desperate, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit”. There was some major sickness in my family so I returned to Melbourne and one night beside my bed I experienced an awesome filling of the Holy Spirit and received a prayer language that again  cause much change in my life. There came such a hunger for prayer, and the  Word of God, and  such a love for the Lord that were all keys to cause me to grow in grace.

I returned to Wangaratta, still burning with the call of God in my life, I began attending a new Pentecostal church that had started and was baptized in the Ovens river. Something upset me and I returned to the Salvation Army where I was offered the highest lay position in the Army there, Sadly, this sure pandered to my pride, but still the call of God was burning in my heart and in January 1962 left for Melbourne to attend the Army’s training College. Can you see some important keys here.

1. My being born again

2. My call to ministry

3. Being filled with the Holy Spirit

4. Being baptized in Water.

It is almost 62 years since I came to Christ, and still :