Oliver’s white hair stood out in the room of black hair. His craggy face was very different from the many young faces we were teaching. Some in the room had to leave the afternoon session to go to classes at the local school.
Not Oliver. He had probably not been in school in 40+ years.
Oliver didn’t let his age keep him from pulling his chair into a small group and joining the foundational Bible study about How to be sure you are a Christian or How to walk in step with the Holy Spirit.
Oliver is different that way. Sometimes, older leaders don’t fully engage. They sit at the edges. They let the younger ones do the lessons, especially in hierarchical cultures like Africa.
Oliver is humble. He is also effective.
Oliver walks 2 hours every week to an area outside of the capital city of Guinea-Bissau to minister in the church he planted. Oliver has no car and no bicycle. Oliver is too poor to take a taxi or bus. Part of his journey takes him through the forest where snakes and other dangers lie.
When the team leader asked him why he didn’t choose an area closer to where he lives to plant a church, he responded, “Then who would reach the people in the Oyo area? God told me those people needed to be reached.” But Oliver, what about the snakes, he was asked. “God told me the people in Oyo area needed to be reached. He will protect me or he will provide someone else to reach them.”
Kay and I are not too much younger than Oliver. As we each stood before the trainees to impart our wisdom and knowledge, I was aware of how much I could learn from Oliver about following Jesus.