26 August 2013


By John Ollis

I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of responses I have received for personal testimony (1) I guess people love a good story, especially one about the grace of God in a believer’s life. You can appreciate how much I could share of my experience over 62 years, but  it could easily become an autobiography. I want to put the spotlight on God’s blessing and goodness in my life and some of the things that have been accomplished, but without His enabling Grace this testimony would mean nothing at all.

There have been some mistakes I have made  in my life, or at least some things I could and shouldhave done differently, but the Lord continued to lead and guide me despite these things to help me fulfil His will in my life.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first year at the Salvation Army College, it was a year of much learning, training and experiences. In the first four months of the second year students are appointed to assist in ministry somewhere, I was appointed to assist in a church in a Victorian country town. I can remember the confidence that started to develop in my preaching. Sadly, I began to experience some very poor health, and in my youthful immaturity simply walked away and returned to Melbourne but not to the College. I obtained employment and began attending a large Charismatic church, and for the rest of 1963 fellowshipped at that church and saw my health recuperate. I have maintained my  friendships within the Salvation Army including a national leader who I consider to be my very best friend. In January next I will be attending the 50 year reunion of my class. There were 43 students in the class and guess what its nickname was “Nescafe”!!!!

The call of God continued to burn in my heart and at the end of 1963 I applied to continue my studies in Commonwealth Bible College (A.o.G)  in Brisbane. I was accepted and began in February 1965. This was much more a theological College and I so enjoyed the in depth teaching of the lecturers.  Students were assigned to churches at weekends for practical ministry training. I was sent to a coastal suburb. On my Graduation I was asked to become the (unpaid) Assistant Pastor of the church. I returned home to Melbourne for Christmas and our church’s Christmas camp. I reconnected with Margaret (we had become friends and gone out together for a few months) on New Years Day In proposed and she accepted.

I returned to Brisbane obtained employment and began my ministry. We were married on 8th May and settled into our first flat together.  Within weeks of our wedding, the senior pastor resigned and I was invited to become the Senior Pastor. I was not yet 24 still very immature and inexperienced with a new bride. I soon started to become overwhelmed with Pastoral matters and began to exhibit all the signs of a nervous breakdown. I resigned and we returned to Melbourne. We found employment and began to attend our old church where I taught a Young Adults Bible Class. Margaret played piano and sang in the choir. It took over 2 years for my health to fully return and again the call of God rose up in my heart. I was invited to take over a pioneer congregation in the outer Eastern suburbs and whilst continuing to work saw the church grow to over 80 people. We were able to build a lovely building. In this church I did something I have never done since. I modelled the morning service on Paul’s words in 1 Cor.  “When you come together everyone of you have……….. It was awesome to see the believers begin to share and lead. The sharing and ministry so dovetailed  many times I didn’t really need to preach (but I did). In late 1970 I began to feel a stirring in my heart to move on. This was a big step as we had purchased our first home, and I had a good employment position. Our first son had been born in July 1968. In hindsight I should have been much more considerate than I was. We sold up and moved to a small church in the Blue Mountains in N.S.W. It was a good solid congregation and we saw some good growth. Our second son was born and Margaret began to have some health difficulties. In the 1960’s & 70″s a 3 year Pastoral appointments were common in the Pentecostal movement. So again I felt the urge to move.  In these last two appointments I had learnt practically many things and there was to me a small but growing maturity in my ministry.

What did I learn from these 2 Pastoral positions?

1.Even though I made some evident mistakes, the Lord saw my heart and continued to lead me.

2. To be more considerate where my wife and family were concerned.

3. To appreciate  more about hearing the voice of God and His leading in my life.

We received a call to a  lovely church very close to Sydney Harbour. This pastorate and the next were continuous exciting  years of blessing and growth and development beyond my wildest dreams. These were 14 years of unbelievable blessing in our lives and ministries. Still I could say “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before”.

I returned to Bris