Meet MDiv Graduate Darrell Olson
Darrell Olson, who earned his Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Fuller Bay Area in 2012, is warehouse manager for the Bay Area Rescue Mission and also serves as a Vocation and Formation leader at our campus. He reflects with us on his calling and the part Fuller played in that.
FBA: How do you currently envision your call to God's mission in the world, and how did you arrive there?
Darrell: Towards the end of my MDiv degree I had a good friend and fellow student challenge me with the simple question, “What is the mission of God?” I stumbled through some incredibly awesome answer that touched on every aspect of theology and was so brilliant I immediately was never able to repeat it verbatim. But for my friend the answer was simple, God's mission is a mission of reconciliation and we need to be posturing ourselves into situations where we can help that divine reconciliation take place.
I became pretty inspired by this vision, and not too long after I graduated I was able to apply for work at the Bay Area Rescue Mission, a place where homeless addicts are able to begin that process of reconciliation (to God, to self, to family, and to community). In terms of my vision for life and ministry, this is exactly a type of place where I want to work—a place where heaven and earth collide and God’s mission of reconciliation takes place on a moment-to-moment basis.
I am currently the manager of the warehouse—ground zero for all donations and a place where one gets to witness how abundance and generosity meets the tangible felt needs of recovery. For anybody who is interested in participating in domestic, urban missional work, this is a phenomenal place to experience the fullness of God’s beauty.
FBA: How did Fuller prepare you for this call?
Darrell: One aspect of graduate school that I feel is underappreciated is the switch from focusing on having the right answers (undergrad) to wrestling with the application of great questions (master’s degree).
I chose Fuller for my graduate school because I wanted to wrestle with great questions on which we were always encouraged to root the answers in the application to ministry. “And how does that apply to your ministry?” was the daunting question of every great classroom discussion I sat in.
This push towards critical thinking and the understanding that there could very well be more than one acceptable answer has developed a deep-rooted grace and appreciation not only for those who are in our holistic recovery program, but also my fellow coworkers who come from many different backgrounds and educations.
I have found that at the Rescue Mission the questions are still the same as they were at Fuller, it’s just that my new cohorts are showing me some new answers.
FBA: What has been your experience as one of our new Vocation and Formation Group leaders?
Darrell: Jealousy. Jealousy is the first emotion that rises within me. Jealousy in that I wish this program existed while I was at Fuller and that I had the opportunity to sit in small groups with a leader and practice new spiritual disciplines and process my own life’s journey with friends. To learn more, connect with Darrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What I have seen from my group in such a short time is a very quick bond of trust and excitement with these practices and a tremendous amount of grace and love shown through these rich exercises like the personal lament. Perhaps the hardest aspect of leading this group is just trying to stay out the conversation so that the focus stays on the students and does not shift towards me and my desire to participate in the conversation too!
The spiritual breakthroughs, the kairos moments, and those tender silences of deep reflection are just moments of pure beauty within a seminary classroom.