The first time anyone asked me to catch up for a coffee was when I was fourteen. At that age, my drink of choice usually consisted of a milkshake or can of soft drink. But catching up with an adult from church over a coffee at a cafe felt like a rite of passage into adulthood – an offer I could not turn down. I had to decide, would I be a latte, flat white, or cappuccino drinker? What was the difference between the three of them? And what did adults talk about when they caught up for coffee? I imagined myself like George Clooney in the Nespresso ads. I imagined what sort of a man I would become – all because I was invited for coffee.
Mr Holyoak was a spiritual giant at our church. He regularly preached on Sunday mornings and taught the adults’ Bible classes on Wednesday nights. He gave intelligent answers to complex questions and held strong convictions. Nobody doubted his integrity as a man of faith. He was a leader – the sort of man my dad went to for advice. And a man like that, with so many important things to do, wanted to spend a couple of hours with me to catch up over a coffee.
Warren Holyoak liked to talk about the future of the church, leadership, and the rapidly changing social environment. He taught me about post-modernism and the meaning behind terms like post-Christian culture. He regularly quoted from Paul’s letters and asked for my thoughts on real leadership issues in the church. Much of it was above my ability to fully comprehend, but Warren taught me it was important to think deeply about Christian life, good leadership, the church, and effective preaching of the gospel.
Warren and I caught up over coffee bi-weekly for four years until his death from cancer when I was eighteen. Even when he was in a lot of pain from his cancer treatments, he still made our coffee catch-ups a priority.
Some highlights during those four years include the time Warren prayed over me during my baptism when I was 16. While many people helped me on my spiritual journey to that point, Warren was one of the most instrumental in leading me to Christ.
Not long before he died, I remember a conversation where he strongly encouraged me to learn how to bring the good news about Jesus to my generation and the generation after me. That sense of responsibility for effective evangelism never left me. After several years of building an acting career in Sydney and Los Angeles, I took a hard turn in the opposite direction to pursue God’s calling on my life. Leaving acting was an uncomfortable process that required me to give up my dreams to pursue God’s dreams instead. But it was the best thing I could have done. Today, I’m all in for God. I’m grateful God has put me in leadership positions where I can share the good news about Jesus to the next generation.
This is my first term working at Glasshouse Christian College as a Primary Pastor. For me, working here has meant moving from Brisbane with my wife Katrina and starting a new chapter for both of us. I look forward to this new chapter but not without gratitude for people like Warren who helped me along the journey.
I learned only recently that Warren had a history at Glasshouse Christian College during the school’s earliest years. He volunteered a day a week to help Glasshouse Christian College get off the ground financially. It’s a little piece of Warren’s legacy that I was unaware of until now. But it has given me great encouragement knowing that I am stepping into a school that Warren believed in because of its Christ-centred focus. He was truly passionate about reaching future generations for Christ. As I have matured, that passion has developed in me too and I hope to share it with the young people I get to know at GCC. God is doing big things at this school and I am grateful to be here to see it.
Nathan Wilson, College Pastor
In case you missed Pastor Joc’s video introducing Nathan on social media, you can watch it here.