Last evening, a group of friends and family gathered at a restaurant for a birthday meal for Pastor Olen. It was great food and fabulous fellowship! We ate and laughed and laughed and ate.
Pastor just turned 70. For me, it is not as hard to imagine that age as it used to be. Admittedly, this is the only birthday that has caused Pastor a little twinge of consternation in all his years. I can’t say I won’t feel the same when I turn 70, since I felt the same twinge at 30, 40, and 50. Still it is amazing that this is my pastor’s first twinge in all his important milestones in life.
I just want to use this space to say what a great guy he is. What a wonderful pioneer, visionary, and leader. He believed in my husband and me years ago when we were young, egostistical, inexperienced, and just plain wet-behind-the-ears. He saw something in us both, prayed for us, mentored us, and helped us stand on our own two feet in ministry eventually.
Pastor Olen closed his eyes when we flubbed up; he said no to us sometimes, and he released us to God’s perfect will when it was personally painful for him and the church to see us go. Believe me, it was and is mutual! In retrospect, I can see that God’s wisdom was leading him all along, even when I did not understand.
He has been a wonderful friend and example through the years.
And what is amazing is that he didn’t just believe in us alone: he has mentored and given to scores of folks around the world. So many people call him father. And just like the Bible says, “There are few fathers.” Well, he is a true father, exampling what it is to live as a worshipper and giver and disciple of Jesus… Only heaven will tell how broad the ripple has grown from his pebble cast into the lake of God’s destiny for his life. He has influenced nations. Nations call him father.
So I want to take this opportunity to honor you, Pastor Olen, to say thank you. Take this birthday as a promotion. God’s wisdom of years rests on your shoulders and graces your tongue and colors your vision for a beautiful future.
Silver hair becomes you.
My husband and I have been privileged to walk alongside of you…
And the best is yet to be, Pastor Olen.