I posted last week a simple (but profound) statement on Facebook,”THE SOVEREIGN LORD DOES ALL THINGS WELL”. I believe that with all my heart.
In the next couple of weeks I celebrate 64 years as a born again Christian, so I want (again) to do as the Psalmist encourages us to do in Psalm 107:2
“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy”. I love the message translation:
“All of you set free by God, tell the world, tell how He freed you from oppression”.
I know it is a sign of old age to reminisce, but I have much to testify about.
I was born into a developing alcoholics home (both parents) so life was not always a happy time. I can now see that God’s hand was on my life long before I became a Christian, it was He that led me to the Salvation Army Sunday School where I was given the opportunity to receive Jesus as my personal Saviour, I was just 10 years old, but when I stood up after prayer I knew “old things had passed away and all things had become new”. From that moment I had a desire to live a Godly life. I thank God for the Salvation Army, for it exposed me to the truth of “Sanctification” that I could live a holy victorious life. At age 14 in a Youth Rally, I received my call into ministry and from that day had only one desire to go Bible College and train as a Minister of the Gospel (at that time I thought I would become a S.A. officer, but that was not in the plan of God for me (although I initially attended their College thinking this was God’s leading in my life. Not only do I thank God for exposing me to the Holiness message, but for leading me into the Pentecostal movement where I learnt more about the Spirit filled life and experiencing the power of God in my life. I am so thankful I was exposed to two essential aspects of truth Character (holiness) and Charisma (the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit). At that time the Salvation Army was not as flexible as it is today, so I moved to the Assemblies of God College to continue my Theological training. Both these truths MUST be held in balance,
When I received my “call” I knew it was primarily to be a Pastor, but after a number of years, I realised it was to be a Pastor/Teacher. I had 22 years of blessed and fruitful Pastoral ministry.Much of this must be attributed to Margaret (my wife of over 50 years) who always encouraged me to be open (to have an eye for the Cloud) this produced much growth and blessing. God gave us 2 sons, who are married and given us 5 beautiful grandchildren, they are all loving and serving the Lord.
There is no doubt (in hindsight) there are seasons in a person’s ministry, and dramatically after those 22 years the Lord led me into full time Teaching ministry in the College where I had been a student. This was a massive learning curve for me, and the Lord sure helped me. I could not comprehend where all that extra training and experience would lead me.
I said I knew I was called as a Pastor, and over the years the Lord gave me greater understanding of Discipleship & Mentoring, I was able to develop these areas in my ministry at the College.
Whilst still in Pastoral Ministry the Lord began to expose me to Missions and the Missions field, again I had no idea where this would take me. I created a Dept. of Missiology and developed a Bachelor of Missiology degree, and I also earned a Master of Missiology degree which gave me the “science of missions” I was also able to start going to the Mission field to teach and preach, and practically appreciate and understand what Missions was all about. This eventually took me to 25 different nations for ministry, some countries many times for example Vietnam 32 times, Singapore & Malaysia probably over 100 times. Indonesia is currently the country much on my heart, and many exciting things are happening in that nation, statistically it could cease to be the largest Muslim nation in the world, if the revival continues. I have visited many times and will be there next May.
After 11 years at the College, a new season was born, and we were appointed the Principal of the A/G College in Singapore (under contract, not a Missions appointment). Without all the training and experience I had received in Australia, I could not have fulfilled this next stage in our ministry. The Lord placed 2 things in our heart that we were to accomplish in Singapore.1 A new 3 year Theology degree, and for the College to have their own home and not be in rented property. This was fulfilled by the time we left Singapore Praise the Lord.
We returned to Australia after fulfilling the contract, not having a Ministry position, but within a very short time I was appointed to the Faculty of Hillsong Leadership College where we served for almost 6 years. Again I had the opportunity to Disciple & Mentor, and have many sons in different nations of the world. This was another exciting season in ministry. One son has recently moved to Argentina and will be pioneering a great church in the capital city.
Each time there has been a change of direction (new season) the Lord would start to prepare my heart for it. At a Staff camp in April 2005 Brian Houston stopped preaching and looked out at the 600 people that were in the meeting, and said “John Ollis, the Lord has put a dream in your heart it is time to step out and fulfil it”. I concluded at the end of 2nd term 2005 (end of August) and began going to the Nations teaching and preaching. I would be gone for up to 3 months at a time (with Margaret’s full blessing and support). This took me throughout Asia and Eastern Europe (Russia & Ukraine). This period was one of the most exciting seasons in my life and I will be eternally grateful for the privilege of doing this. The Lord met all our needs financially, it was an exciting time walking by faith.
This season came to very frustrating end when I contracted the nasty staph infection in October 2012. This began an almost 3 years season of pain, but also of much revelation and blessing remember “The Sovereign Lord does all things well”. As I testified recently I believe this season is ending, now that I am at last infection free, and almost pain free and even though I have recently turned 74 believe God is going to open a new exciting season for me. I am a little impatient (please pray for me) as at this time I can not see what is next. I mentioned that out of the blue last week I received an invitation to minister in a church recently pioneered by a past student of mine. I am looking forward to that very much.
I still have the 2 Schools in Indonesia to teach at next May, but so far nothing else apart from my serving in our local church here in Moe. I will not bash doors down, but trust the Lord to open doors that no man can shut.
In the pottery process often the pot is put “on the shelf” before it is fired in the kiln, in ministry there can be times when a person is “put on the shelf” and to a great degree these past three years has been that experience for me, but as I said I am eternally grateful because of what the Lord has done in my life during this time.
Jesus told his disciples “to come apart and rest awhile” and much as I did not want to I NEEDED TOO.
I believe the Lord has done a work of grace in my life, and I thank Him for that, there is still more dross to be removed by the “Refiner’s Fire”.
I thank God for fresh expanding revelation on truths like:
His grace to live a holy life, and not a license to sin
Our glorious inheritance in Christ which gives us constant access into His Holy presence.
The Goodness of God
Greater keys (for me) to live the Spirit filled life.
The awesome privilege of having and using our God given prayer language.
I wonder whether I should list the numerous people who have been so instrumental in my ministry development, as I am sure I will forget some.
The Education Officer (Academic Dean) at the Salvation Army College, the late Major Milford McPherson who’s Godly life impacted me greatly.
Pastor Kevin Conner who’s teaching and life changed the direction of my ministry. In ministry it is easy to get out of balance and overemphasise some aspect of truth, Kevin’s teaching has helped me so much.
Pastor Brian Houston & Pastor Robert Fergusson who’s ministry at Hillsong church was such a blessing to us.
Six and a half years ago, we believe the Lord led us to sell our home in Sydney and return to our home state of Victoria after being away for 39 years. We moved near Margaret’s sister, and live in a Retirement Village. Nearly 5 years ago, we began attending the Moe Baptist church where I now serve as an Elder (currently the only one). In that time we have had 2 Interim Ministers until we recently called a new permanent resident Pastor. Both those Interim Ministers have impacted my life they are Brian McKelvie and Charles Lazaro, not only their preaching ministry but their Pastoral Ministry to us personally was something very special, we have busily Pastored many hundreds of people over the years, and to personally experience and receive pastoral ministry has been very special.
So, where to from here ? I honestly don’t know, but I know the Sovereign Lord does, I look back over 64 years of Christian experience, and 50 years of ministry, and I can shout from the rooftops that I have “lived the dream” I have walked in the will of God, and known His leading and blessing (and even though I failed him many many times) I look forward to this next season with anticipation and excitement.
To all my friends over so many years, thank you for your love and support, and pray with us that in our lives and ministry “the best is yet to come”.
If my testimony has been a blessing to you, please let me know.