It was such a privilege to have been among the many who gathered for this wonderful service of thanksgiving, and so I felt I should try to share some of the blessing.
How deeply we feel the loss of this great man of God, David Ollerton. Ours was not the privilege of those who have already crossed the river, and are among the joyous company who gathered to be part of his abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God. Yet we had that foretaste of the kingdom as, maybe a thousand or more of us, met in the ample facilities of Christchurch, Newport, and sang some of the old hymns of the Welsh revival, and some of the newer ones, also deeply meaningful, which David had taught us.
‘His children will arise and call him blessed.’ It was wonderful to see so many of his children, and grandchildren too taking part, while our dear Liz, who has been so strong for David in all his trials, and now for all of us too, had doubtless choreographed it all.
Some of the youngest of the ‘Tribe’ recounted how their Taid, as they called him, had learned to memorise Psalm 121 at his grandmother’s kitchen table, and now, each speaking a few verses in turn, they spoke it out strongly. ‘I will lift up my eyes to the hills.’ No wonder they have become a family of mountaineers.
It was David and Liz’s two daughters, Ruth and Joy, who between them read to us the history of David’s fruitful life, while their husbands too had been included in the service.
We could not have had such a service without the Gospel being preached. David had placed this responsibility on his very capable son, Andrew, also in the ministry, but before he did so, it was thrilling to hear his wife, Charlotte, declaim a selection of verses from Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians. And now, like Elisha, it seems a double portion of his Father’s anointing, is now upon him.
The whole of this wonderful family behaved with charisma and dignity throughout this moving occasion. But who could not help but feel deep emotion in the face of such a parting. It was only at the end of such exemplary preaching that his son paused a moment to regain control of his own emotion, and somehow this seemed so fitting. They set an example for us all, for David, with Liz, and their children too, have sown so much into our lives, and he will be so greatly missed. It was they who planted our fellowship in Porthcawl, pastoring us for the first two years until, because of health he could no longer continue.
While in remission, with the measure of health he had, he knew he had to make Wales Wide his priority, but he continued to mentor Tom and Laura, who have so capably taken on his role of pastoring, and has loved and supported us all from afar.
An awe inspiring picture of David towered over us, by means of the screen, so life like, in his mountaineering gear, and standing by the cairn he has built, just a stone or two at a time. It is his Ebenezer. For even in the last painful months when he endured a course of chemotherapy, yet again, - yes, for our sakes, even though, like Paul, he longed to be with Christ, which is far better, he had slowly, painfully, yet joyfully, climbed the gentler slopes of Fan Fawr, raising funds for Felindre, and building his Ebenezer – a thanksgiving to our faithful God.
Oh God, creator of the rugged ranges
Thank you for those with heart of mountaineer
Loving the great outdoors of open spaces
Facing the fiercest climb with glad good cheer
Thank you for those who count each climb a challenge
Trusting God’s strength to face each rocky road
Nor fear the final peak that’s yet before them
Knowing they’ll soon be present with their Lord
Oh how we thank you, Lord, for those like David
His joy to lead us all to claim the heights
To gain new strength for every climb before us
And so possess the land in God’s own might
So may we hear God’s call to face the mountains
To know we each can be his mountaineer
To claim new heights nor fear the steepest valleys
To walk, e’en as he walked, with glad good cheer.