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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

From Deadlines to Lifelines

By Ian Richardson
Sept. 8, 2013

Sometimes we prepare for one goal in life only to learn God has been preparing us for something else the whole time. Isaac Olivarez, a 2002 Evangel University graduate from Fort Collins, Colo., is a prime example.

Little did Olivarez know when he graduated with a major in journalism and minors in biblical studies and Spanish that in just a few short years he would be preaching in the middle of inner-city Denver.

Olivarez’s journey began midway through high school, where he strongly sensed God was directing him to Evangel, an Assemblies of God university in Springfield, Mo.

“Since my junior year of high school I had felt like God wanted me to go to Evangel University,” he says. “I never applied to go anywhere else, never visited the campus, nothing. I knew Evangel was where I needed to be.”

Olivarez became a sports writer for The Lance, Evangel’s student newspaper, and eventually became sports editor. Some of his favorite memories are of late nights spent scrambling to meet deadlines. Along with working hard to crank out sports articles, Olivarez pushed himself academically. He set the goal of making the dean’s list, a goal he met several times.

Olivarez’s dedication to his studies and hours of work with The Lance paid off. He completed his degree during the fall semester of 2001 and was already writing full time for the Pentecostal Evangel before his graduation in May 2002.

In 2003, the Pentecostal Evangel sent Olivarez to Denver to write a story on the inner city. There, he witnessed the stabbing of a young homeless man. This dramatic event brought Olivarez to the realization he needed to shift gears in his career.

“Already sensing God leading me into full-time ministry, this was the last straw,” he says. “God showed me the need firsthand, and I knew I wanted to minister in Denver; but not in the suburbs, in the inner city.”

Olivarez left his writing job at the magazine and since 2004 has been working in full-time ministry. He is now an ordained Assemblies of God U.S. missionary to inner-city Denver.

Olivarez is the founder and director of Urban Outreach Denver, an organization focused on touching the “Five Points” neighborhood, an area of inner-city Denver known for gangs, drugs and prostitution. Urban Outreach Denver ministers to people in practical ways, such as distributing coats in the winter and giving away food, clothes and backpacks in local parks. Olivarez is also lead pastor of City Life Church, which is set to launch this month.

Looking back on his Evangel University days, Olivarez sees a period of formation, a time when he learned valuable fundamentals he has continued to build upon. At Evangel he met his wife, Jaime, whom he married in 2002.

“More than anything,” Olivarez says, “I would say EU is where I became who I am today. It is where I learned how to persevere, where I learned how to learn, and where I learned how to interact with people who are not like me.

“As a Christian, there never comes a point in your life where you separate that. Everywhere you are, you are a Christian there.”

For college-aged students who want to be the best disciples of Jesus wherever they go, Olivarez offers the following advice: “Learn how to learn. Invest in relationships now. The people you’re going to school with now will be the ones you do business and life with later, all around the country and world. You have no idea what God has in store for you, and if you work hard now, you’ll be prepared for God’s best for your life in the future.”

IAN RICHARDSON is a journalism student at Evangel University and former intern with the Pentecostal Evangel.


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