Not ready to retire, David joined OM. “I believe God has continuing purposes for our lives, including into our latter years,” David says.
David Rolles (UK) would say he is just an ‘ordinary Christian’, living out his faith in and out of the working environment. “At the age of five, I committed my life to Jesus very simply, was baptised in a pool in a garden with our house church aged 13. Since then, my Christian faith has developed and deepened. I have worked in the business world for over 25 years and for a church in Manchester, UK, for the last 20.”
Not ready to retire yet, David decided to put his experience and work skills in the service of OM in 2023 and now works alongside Paul Wheatley, OM in the Caribbean team leader, as Operations Director — “The same job title that ‘happened to be’ the one I was about to retire from with LifeChurch,” he shared.
David believes that God’s timing is evident in bringing him into OM at this point. “Many mission organisations obviously value the contribution of those who have already had a career and are officially coming to the end of their working life — but still have energy, gifts and experience to bring to the table,” he said. “They can be self-funding and not drain the church mission budget or the OM team. I was pleased to hear that OM in the UK welcome those over 65 — like me!
“I believe God has continuing purposes for our lives, including into our latter years,” David continued. “He doesn’t just ‘finish’ with us, [Romans 8:28] but partners with us, in many avenues of service for Him to build His Kingdom here on earth, through vibrant communities of Jesus followers. My main motivation is to serve Him in the context of my job and life experience. And the Caribbean is not unfamiliar to my wife and me. We have visited it a number of times — just not worked there!”
OM has been involved in the Caribbean since 2004, although its links with local believers and fellowships date back to as early as 1992 from OM’s ships. Even in those days, the desire of OM was to encourage growth and understanding of the message Jesus brings to individuals and to share the hope God offers through His Son of restoration and a life lived more purposefully and usefully. The freedom of the gospel Message can transform not only single hearts but whole communities for eternity.
Yet local followers of Jesus have struggled to see their part in sharing that transforming message globally, though over 85 per cent of the population of the Caribbean — some 44 million people living in 28 sovereign nations [UN estimate 2022] — profess a personal relationship with Jesus.
In 2000, at a Caribbean pastors’ gathering, one pastor recognised the need to “release from these islands the best of our people, and the resources needed for their support, to go to the uttermost parts of the earth to proclaim the gospel, to plant churches, to disciple the nations and to serve God wherever, whenever and however He commands*.” This vision echoes the heartbeat of OM, passionately desiring to mobilise [Caribbean] churches and see them actively engage in what God is doing around the world.
Although Caribbean followers of Jesus transplant easily into other cultures and nationalities, raising sufficient finances is challenging, and even those who have settled well into other countries need help to raise regular adequate financial support. This is an area where David has business experience to offer OM in the Caribbean, in networking both internally and externally, working with the boards in the areas of organisation, structure, finance, communications and personnel to enable others to work to their God-given tasks.
“With the [OM in the Caribbean team] as spread out as it is,” Paul Wheatley said, “It is hard to cover the ground, both practically and physically, and support all the staff as well as I can. With David’s expertise, he will be so helpful in sharing some of the needs, enabling me to fulfil my God-given calling. I am delighted he agreed to take the post.”
David is quietly pleased but somewhat surprised by God’s direction. Having spent his early years in Italy with missionary parents who left the UK to live and work in Tuscany with the Italian churches, he is familiar with living outside his native land. “I did wonder whether there was an opening with OM in Italy,” he explained, “as I speak Italian and am familiar with the culture. But God clearly had other ideas, and working alongside Paul seemed a good place to offer my skills as an older, work-seasoned individual. I hope I can enable the team to be better equipped to do the work God is calling His Jesus followers in the Caribbean to do. If I can play a small part in that, I'll be pleased.”
God's faithfulness was always evident
David was always clear about the message of God’s love from a young age, even when sent to boarding school in the UK. “It gave me a good education after my local Italian school,” he said appreciatively. “Many of my friends had parents living abroad in other countries as Jesus followers, so I wasn’t unusual. The environment also helped deepen my faith; sadly, some of my schoolmates arrived with a faith and left having lost it. I did feel the testing, but that helped me grow spiritually. I had times when I had to make certain decisions to persist despite the challenges around me. But I did also have people around me who encouraged me — even the pastor of our home church took a personal interest in me. Now in his late eighties, we are still in touch,” David smiled.
As David looks back over his career in business, he can clearly see God’s leading — even when he was made redundant from multi-national company-restructuring. God brought about new job opportunities, working for smaller companies with a broader range of tasks within his job description than formerly. This enabled David to expand his skillset, which benefited him later when working in a church context. “I was never unemployed for long. God took good care of us, equipped me for new jobs and enabled me via new networks to organise events for up to 2,000 people. It was fun but kept me busy, too!”
David is quietly taking up his new challenge to serve, listen and enable OM in the Caribbean, just as the team looks forward to God’s blessing on their future steps together in mobilising His people for His world.
* Source: https://www2.om.org/at/node/9594 (accessed 04.11.2023)