by Rev. Javier Olivares, West District Superintendent
This verse stuck with me as I was growing up in the church. Moving from a farm life to the city as a teenager was overwhelming and frightening for me. However, my grandmother would recite this verse in a form of a prayer. Somehow, she knew this verse would play a key role during my early years as a Methodist.
As I write these first lines as your new District Superintendent, I’m reminded of these words from Joshua not in the original context of patriarchy and conquest, but in the context of facing adversity, fear, and being overwhelmed by the unknown but understanding not to fear, to be strong, and have courage because…God is with us wherever we go. Sometimes courage is the only element we have to face a crisis with the few resources we have.
Courage has been one of the tenets of our vision as a conference: a courageous church, loving like Jesus….
I’m so thrilled and honored to be your West District Superintendent and there is an enormous joy invading every inch of my body. It is a joy because God has called each one of you to be part of the Body of Christ to extend God’s kin-dom. What does this kin-dom look like? One of reconciliation, equity, and justice. And so, it’s a joy to be in partnership with you, working together.
Whether you are a pastor or a lay person we all have been given the task to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and to know that…God is with us wherever we go.
Just so you know a little bit about my journey, I was born in Texas and moved to Mexico when I was ten years old. I have lived in both countries throughout my life. I went into seminary in Monterrey, Mexico where I met my spouse Alma. After ministering for a few years in Mexico with the Northwest Conference, we moved to Phoenix, Arizona and I was appointed to Epworth UMC as a missionary starting an Hispanic Ministry. Alma and I later went to Drew Theological School and obtained our M.Div. My last appointment was to Grace UMC in Mesa, Arizona.
Alma is an associate pastor at Shepherd of the Hills UMC in Sun City West. We have two children. Natalia is a music teacher at an elementary school and Esteban is studying Business Administration at ASU. My father is deceased and my mother lives in El Paso, Texas. I have one brother who resides (with his wife) also in El Paso.
I look forward to getting to know you and to be able to work with you as congregations and pastors. To grow in our faith, in our awareness, as disciples of Jesus and know that …God is with us wherever we go.
I would like to thank my predecessor Rev. Nancy Cushman for the mentorship these last months as we moved into transition. Her wisdom and experience were very helpful as I was learning.
I know the task is not easy, it is difficult, yet I cling to courage, that courage which God gives in time when needed. I know that the same God who was with that kid growing up in a farm is the same One here with me, with us because…God is with us wherever we go.