My name is Olivia Dunaway and I am called to be an evangelist crusader for my Lord Jesus. I was born in a small town in South Alabama which makes me a native of the United States of America. I am one of six children, the second from the youngest. I grew up in a church environment. My father was an evangelist who planted churches worldwide. My mother, an English teacher, was a devout Christain and an amazing role model. She implanted the Scriptures into my memory from a very early age. I spent the majority of my childhood in foreign countries. My father built churches in China, Guam, Kazakhstan, and all but one of the Central American countries. In ’87 and ’88 I attended language school in Mexico City. My time spent in the fields of missions left a deep and lasting imprint on my soul.
As I grew into my teens, I became very embittered with the rigors of the church. I began searching for an escape. I found it in the form of marriage. The period that followed was very dark. I turned to drugs, began dabbling in the occult, trying God in every way imaginable, and grieving my parents. I was on a one-way track to hell. Finally, in 2001, it all came to a head. I witnessed the violent deaths of several of my ‘close friends’ over a period of just a few months. One would have thought this would have been enough to get my attention, sadly, it wasn’t. So God took one more step to reach me. August 8, 2001, I suffered a traumatic overdose. I had sense enough to know I was dying. As I began to fade out, I heard my mother’s voice; “When you hit rock bottom, there is only one way to look, Up.” Four days later, I woke up in ICU, tubes everywhere. My mother’s voice continued to haunt me. Scripture after Scripture pounded my brain. And for the first time in nearly 15 years, I looked up. Possessed by demons, wrecked by drugs, dirty and ashamed, I went searching for a church and pastor who would help me. In a span of two years, I sought out many pastors, but all turned me away, saying they could not help me. I was too ashamed to find my parents.
I was at the end of my rope. I began to entertain the idea of suicide. In desperation, l began screaming at God, “If you are real, prove it.” Doesn’t God just love these challenges? He answered me by putting a man I would later marry in my path. The first thing this man said to me was, “I know someone who can help you.” He took me to his pastor, Mike Ritzman, who in turn led me right to the feet of Jesus. I finally came to the full reality of John 14:6, “No man cometh to the Father but by Me (Jesus)” not the local church or any pastor. And John 4 “Whosoever drinketh of the water I (Jesus) shall give him, shall never thirst again.” March 17, 2007, I fell on my face before Almighty God and accepted all He had to offer. I was baptized in a special ceremony for me on Easter 2007. Since then, I have never wavered in knowing who is Lord of my life.
The man I married is Danny Dunaway. We will celebrate our eleventh year in December. We have raised three fine boys, two of whom have special needs. In 2008, I received a dual vision via a couple of dreams. One, which had not been fully revealed, is for a later time. The other would be fulfilled almost immediately. God placed my husband and me in Grandview, Tn. In Oct. 2008, Travellers Rest Refuge and Outreach opened its doors. For six years, God provided for and sustained this ministry which provided relief to families in crisis. During this time, I took every course available in Psychology, Christian and Pastoral Counseling. I hold two non-accredited ThD’s in Religious Ed and Pastoral Counseling, as well as the degrees leading up to them.
In 2012, my husband and I felt led to sponsor an evangelist crusader rally in Spring City, Tn. Bread Upon the Water kicked off Oct. 20, 2012. We hired several bands and gave away over 2100 plates of hot dogs, hamburgers and all the trimmings. We funded this venture out of our own pockets, and God supplied. We saw nearly 1,000 people pass through that day. It was at this rally that God began to show me the fulfillment of the second vision. We met the pastor and founder of Freedom Tribe Ministries. Since then, I have come to serve as worship leader, youth pastor, and women’s chaplain there.
My call for the future has led me to Christian Leaders Institute. My evangelist crusader call first has to do with reaching out to incarcerated mothers. Teshuva’s Place will serve as a ministry acting as a liaison between these mothers and their children. Overall, the goal will be to provide legal aid, psychological and spiritual counseling, drug rehabilitation, visitation or point of contact with their children, and assistance with reestablishment into their families and communities. This is to be provided through shelter, assistance with vocational training, group support, and Biblical studies. My local church has been very supportive of this vision.
Back in 2012, when I was in line for my licensing and ordination, I took some time in prayer and devotion to consider the title I would be called. After much consideration, I chose evangelist. One of the definitions given for this title is a crusader. I feel an evangelist crusader is a simple way of summing up my role as a minister. Because I am a loud, gung-ho, excited preacher. Just the mention of Jesus’ name sets me on a roll. Everywhere I go I like to sing His praise and proclaim His Glory. For I know that the Creator of the Universe, the King of Glory, walked to the very gates of hell just to pull little, insignificant me back to Him!
I am hoping with a scholarship to CLI I will have the opportunity to apply what I have learned, as well as learning new things, in the process of establishing credentials. I am hoping this will open the doors for credible ordination. The evangelist crusader ministry I am being led into will require much credibility. I understand the road ahead will be a major undertaking, but I know Who holds the future. God will open the doors necessary to facilitate this vision. His Word promises that in due season, we shall reap if we faint not.
I covet the prayers of all reading these words. That I will keep my armor on, that I will keep my focus on Jesus at all times and be uninfluenced by the cares of this world. Also, pray for the health of my family as well as the ministry I am currently serving.
Learn about local “ecuministry” ordination at Christian Leaders Alliance.