He Had a Baptist Bible
Oliver Willis Van Osdel was born to godly Methodist parents on October 30, 1846, in the village of Middlebush, near Poughkeepsie, New York. His father was a blacksmith and served the Lord until his death. The family moved to Illinois in 1854. Oliver intended to prepare for a career in law but sensed God’s call to the ministry. This led him to an examination of his own beliefs. Though Methodist by heritage, he had come to the conclusion that New Testament truth was most accurately taught by the Baptist people. Thus on March 7, 1869 Oliver was baptized by immersion and joined the Baptist church of Yorkville, Illinois. That night he preached his first sermon. When Oliver’s family pressed him about his decision to become a Baptist, he replied flatly that: “he had a Baptist Bible.” Oliver attended the old Chicago Baptist Theological Seminary, and in 1874 he assumed the pastorate of the Community Baptist Church in Warrenville, Illinois, and was ordained to the ministry on April 30, 1874. The next thirty-five years were eventful as Oliver held a number of pastorates during this period.
Van Osdel developed some strong convictions and the courage to stand by them during his years of ministry. He faced opposition from several fronts throughout these years and stood firmly for the Gospel, for the truth of God’s Word, and against unbelief. In 1909 something unusual happened to Oliver. He was called to return to Grand Rapids to pastor the church he had formerly led, the Wealthy Street Baptist Church. At age sixty-two, he began a ministry that would span twenty-five years!
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: “This Day in Baptist History III” David L. Cummins. pp. 137 – 138.