Take a moment if you will and read Hebrews Chapter 11. I and numerous others through the years have identified this passage as, “The Faith Hall of Fame” and it is an accounting of numerous biblical figures and the acts of faith they performed as they simply decided to trust God. Each comment on these characters is preceded with this empathetic phrase…”by faith”. As an example and as the starting point for my article this week, I will use my favorite verse in Hebrews 11- Verse 8… “By Faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
I guess my first significant step of faith after I accepted Jesus in 1966, occurred on June 18th, 1978 when I decided to take that decision seriously. I was no longer going to play the game or talk a good fight. I told God He had me… warts and all! It did not take long for God to begin offering opportunities for me to step out and see if I could fulfill my commitment. I took a Sunday school class of 11 year old boys and I started experimenting with a new holy attitude and a new way of speaking to others. The class was a success, but I quickly ditched my new sacred dialect. I committed to Christ as Andy Oliver not some Old English speaking wise man. Soon thereafter the “By Faith” opportunities began to flow:
– I experienced a call to vocational ministry on May 21st, 1979 and by faith, I shared with the Almighty God that I would prepare for service and go to His seminary if He would take care of two classes at Clemson University for me. I had to drop these classes due to grade problems. God took care of the classes and added an exclamation point as he miraculously had me placed on a list of people recognized by a guy named, “Dean” because I supposedly not only passed the accounting and marketing classes I had failed the semester before; I excelled in them… Ain’t God good.
– By faith I began work as minister of Miscellaneous at 1st Baptist Church of Hildebran, NC on May, 11, 1980.
– By faith I started seminary in August of 1980 and finished up in 1984.
– By faith, Kim, Andy and Ben Oliver were called to Mt. Olive Baptist Church in King, NC as Minister of Youth and family in January of 1985.
– By faith, Andy, Kim, Ben, Aaron, and Ethan Oliver moved operations to Pleasant Baptist Church in Shelby, NC in August of 1992.
– By faith, the family left this beloved congregation and went to another new land.. Sandy Run Baptist Church in Mooresboro, NC.. September 2002.
– By faith, the Oliver’s under the leadership of The Holy Spirit departed from the Land Across The Sandy Run Creek and the great people there in April of 2011.
– By faith, soon to be Empty Nesters, Andy and Kim Oliver were blessed to become a part of a delightful church family at Poplar Springs…
I have said all of this in order to begin a discussion to my service among a group of people who have become family. It is a sense of disappointment and some fear that I am asking you to being praying about an inevitable transition that will obviously be coming upon us in the next few years. I want the best for this very special church and do not want to hinder the beautiful spirit and the generous ministry and service we enjoy. I have been in discussion with the personnel committee, deacons, and with some retirement and disability experts and it will be quite a challenge to head out to pasture right now. It is indeed a place and a land I do not know about and “by faith” I am heading that way. I will continue exploring and gathering information and staying in close contact with PSBC personnel committee and to plan on having a report in place for our January business conference. Change is inevitable and unforeseen circumstances are forced upon us a times. By faith, together, let’s trust our steady and trustworthy God as we together head into a new territory.