27 August 2013


By John Ollis

Our move to Sydney  in early 1973 was a very significant step in the purposes of God for our lives. The congregation had some 40+ people. They had purchased a house with a large block in front of it on a slope, and built a 2 story church (hall below & Sanctuary above) the church was joined onto the house which was our accommodation (we loved living in the job).

Just over a year after we arrived we had a major evangelistic crusade which saw many people converted and many added to the church.

In hindsight I was one of the “young rebels” who wanted to see change and renewal in the movement. Margaret encouraged me in this for which I will always be eternally grateful. I heard about the new expressions of Praise & Worship than was  happening all over New Zealand in Charismatic & Baptist churches (and even Brethren Assemblies). I went across for almost 3 weeks to see it for myself. I had never seen or experienced such awesome corporate worship in my life. Many of the songs that were written in that time and into 1980’s & 90’s are still sung today in the local church I attend.

I brought it back with me and introduced it into the church, we were greatly helped by a N.Z.young couple who were full time in Praise & Worship Ministry. This took the church to a new level, and produced further growth in the church.

In 1974 a young Singaporean came into the church, and within 12 months was “hassling” me about the needs of Asia and how we needed to send a Missions Team from the church to the region. Plans were started for a team to go to Singapore & Malaysia in December 76. In late 1975 (or early 76) an  American ministry came to the church to do a series  of meetings. During one service he felt impressed to say that the church should send me on an overseas study trip, within minutes he had raised 0ver $2000. it was an embarrassing  experience, but another key in my spiritual development. In July 1976 I  flew out to Singapore & Kuala Lumpur to confirm the details of the Missions Team trip, then onto Athens (for a day) then Israel for a week, then onto Birmingham England where I preached and started to look for my English family (I was not success then but have since found close to 100 relatives in the area there, and am in regular contact with them). Then onto Chicago where I attended the Basic Youth Conflicts Course conducted by a well known Baptist leader, then onto Los Angeles to attend the Charismatic Conference in Melodyland in Anaheim near Disneyland. Then onto Fiji for the last weekend to preach. the connection here was that right from the beginning of my ministry in Sydney there were Fijians in the congregation who’s numbers steadily increased until I encouraged them to have their own service as well which continued until a Pastor came from Fiji (via N.Z.)  in 1977 and took full responsibility for the them.

This Study trip was another life changing experience for me. The church continued to grow and see much blessing.

In 1978 Margaret & I with over 250 other Pastors & wives travelled to Seoul Korea for the first English Church Growth Seminar conducted by Dr Yonggi Cho (for 10 days). This also expanded my knowledge and experience, we also went onto Hong Kong (where I preached) and then 7 days in Israel.

The young Singaporean man was the catalyst that increased by burden and involvement in Missions. In March 1979 I flew to Kuala Lumpur to conduct a Lay Leaders Retreat for a large church in that city. I was only home a few days and we flew off to Port Moresby to conduct an Easter Convention. Perhaps thinking at this time they would be on off experiences.

Church growth specialists say that a Pastor must have a long term commitment to his church, and in our minds we were in Sydney for the rest of our lives. BUT, the Lord had other things in mind. Through various circumstances the Lord it made it clear we  were to move. This was difficult for us, and not an easy decision to make. We had expanded the church back into the house to give us seating for over 200, so a Manse was purchased. We resigned not knowing where we  were going. Within weeks we received 5 calls:

Two to the U.S.A. (My mentor said I was not ready to run with the ball, he was so right)

Three Pastorates, 2 in N.S.W. and one in north Queensland.

Through prayer and a process of elimination, just one remained. it was in a large regional city, the church had 40 hurting people, that had seen two splits in a year. We did not want to go, but again the Lord made it clear that is where He wanted us.

The 7 years in Sydney were the most blessed and fruitful time in our lives and ministry up to that time., The 40 people we saw in 1973 had grown to over 200. We had also released people to go and pioneer another congregation some miles away. I had a full time Associate Pastor and Margaret worked in the church office part time as well.

We could not have even dreamt  or thought possible the blessing the Lord had in store  for us in this nest step in His leading in our lives.

Thank God “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord.”