Lieut-Colonel Olive Lucas receives Order of the Founder
BY SIMONE WORTHING
Lieutenant-Colonel Olive Lucas, a retired officer whose service in Africa, Australia and India is legendary and ongoing, has been awarded the Army’s highest honour – the Order of the Founder.
Territorial Commander Commissioner Miriam Gluyas made the surprise presentation yesterday at Brisbane’s Stafford Corps, Olive’s home corps, where she continues to serve.
Olive’s extended family, colleagues, friends and those whose lives she has impacted so profoundly had travelled to Stafford from around the city and nation to witness the honour conferred on this much-loved lady.
“It’s the installation of the new divisional leaders today, but we thought we would honour you as well,” Miriam said to Olive, who joined her on the platform after giving a heartfelt and powerful prayer.
“Why?” asked the ever-humble Olive, to understanding laughter.
“I have known this lady for about 40 years,” Miriam continued. “When I was here, at Albion and Albany Creek (as it was then), there was always one person I knew I could count on for wise counsel, for friendship, for godly wisdom – and you have always been all of that for me … over the years I’ve had some amazing conversations with you, deep and beautiful conversations ... you’ve been there for my family in some very difficult times.”
Miriam also spoke of Olive’s heart for the world, her desire to see people saved, and her passion for praying for others and wanting the best for them.
Without telling Olive what the upcoming honour was about, the commissioner introduced the next two speakers to pay tribute to Olive – Major Rowena Smith, Olive’s niece, and Lieut-Colonel Elizabeth Johnson, who served with Olive in Africa and flew from Victoria to honour her long-term friend.
Rowena chose the five letters of Olive’s name to express some of the many traits of her aunt that most inspired her.
“O is for others,” she said. “Olive has lived her life with a heart for others. She has an open heart and an open mind to how God can use her to reach out, to serve and support others.
“L is for the lover of light. Olive has found great joy in all that life has to offer. She finds beauty and joy all around in nature and people in the experiences that she has.
“I is for invested. Olive is invested and interested in people. The wonderful relationship she has with her six grandchildren inspires me. She’s truly invested in their lives. I thank Olive for her. Sisterly care showed to my mother through her regular calls and visits. From an officer’s perspective, investing in the lives of so many people and officers. One of Olive’s great loves is her connection with the Streetlevel ministry on Thursday nights, sharing friendship with people who are enduring hardship in life. But Olive’s investment and interest in people is not just to her family and to the Army. Beyond this, Olive invests in her community as a volunteer, teaching weekly English-speaking classes at TAFE.
“India is another ‘I’ word. Her investment in the people of India has continued right into her 80s with return visits to lead spiritual retreats for officers and to visit the MacRobert Hospital in Dhariwal, India, where she served with Walter (Olive’s husband, Captain Walter Lucas, who was promoted to glory during that time in 1973). And it was her great thrill in November last year when the dialysis unit was opened at the hospital with the installation of three kidney dialysis machines made possible through donations raised by Salvationist friends approached by Olive. Another great love for Olive is Africa, where she served as a teacher on missionary service.
“V is for very. Olive is very caring and very hospitable. I’m inspired by her visitation to the aged and how she regularly opens her home to share a meal with people. Olive is very positive. The Salvation Army has experienced many changes over the years, and change can be difficult, but I’ve been inspired by Olive’s response, and she chooses to be positive ... always hopeful.
“E is for energetic. Her energy inspires me. It actually exhausts me,” she commented, to the understanding laughter in the congregation. “But I’m inspired by her participation in the exercise classes here at the Stafford Corps, but her energy is not just for the exercise; it’s for the people that she has connection with, the community, people who attend.
“I’m going to end with the word encouragement because I think this word captures Olive’s life and ministry. And it’s how I have been most impacted by her life. Her encouragement has been a constant throughout my life and ministry. Today, I honour her but turn my praise to the God that she loves and serves – Grateful that he has used her to bless my life, grateful that his spirit dwells within her and that he has used her to share his great love and compassion to so many people.”
Lieut-Colonel Elizabeth spoke of Olive’s perpetual motion and how it would be a brave person who tried to keep up with her.
“This perpetual motion is not unfocused but quite the reverse,” she said. “The heart of all that Olive does is her total commitment to God and people. She’s very, very caring, and she’s totally faithful. When Olive commits to something, she remains committed – even in retirement. She just changed the geographical area of her full-time service! She is still committed to her activities, such as tutoring English to people newly arrived in Australia, both in and out of the classroom. She keeps in contact with the Honoured Friends [people who pledge a gift to The Salvation Army in their Will] of the Army, drinking coffee and sharing experiences as a real friend.
“The exercise classes here at Stafford are a highlight, as is the time afterwards and getting to know people, attending Streetlevel each week and being vitally interested in the people she meets there. And an important part of Olive’s life for so long is India. Olive has been instrumental in providing so much, not only on the material level but on the spiritual and personal level ... Olive’s priority is God first. And she gives priority to a disciplined prayer life and Bible study. She’s totally committed to God and her calling, and she reflects Christ in her living. She has well taken to heart the great commandment .... You are a beautiful lady – beautiful because of your total commitment to God and your calling. And we thank you for what you’ve done through him for each one of us.”
Order of the Founder presentation
“We really do want to honour you today,” said Miriam. “And I love that your family is here. That’s a beautiful tribute to you ... There’s a lot of family and friends here, and I reckon probably everyone in this building could say this lady has had an incredibly positive effect on their life.”
Miriam encouraged those gathered to stand and “show Olive what you think of her” through rousing applause, then asked people to remain standing.
“Today, I have the incredible privilege of presenting to Olive what not many people around the world are presented with – the Order of Founder,” said Miriam to an audible hum of support from the congregation.
Miriam presented Olive with an Order of the Founder medal, a pin and a framed citation that reads, ‘For her untiring heart and commitment to the Mission of The Salvation Army, particularly in Australia and India. We honour your Christlike service. I hereby admit the said Lieutenant-Colonel Olive Lucas to the Order of the Founder and direct that her name be inscribed on the roll of the Order presented this fourth day of February in the year of our Lord, 2024.’
The citation is signed by General Lyndon Buckingham, international leader of The Salvation Army.
“There’s more,” Miriam continued, presenting Olive with an Order of the Founder medal and pin.
Miriam prayed, thanking God for Olive, her faithful service, and her desire to be in relationship with others and see them find our Lord Jesus. She thanked God for Olive’s family and others in the room who were there because Olive shared Jesus with them.
After the meeting, Olive was surrounded by friends and family, paying their own personal tributes and expressing their joy at the honour Olive had just received.
“I am just overwhelmed,” said Olive. “I think of those on the roll, who have received this before me, including my father-in-law, Colonel Bramwell Lucas (2001).
• To view the service at Stafford, click here.
• To listen to an interview with Olive on Stories of Hope with Major Bryce Davies, click here.
• To view Olive’s perspective on the Self-Denial Appeal, click here
Also at Stafford yesterday, Commissioner Miriam Gluyas welcomed and affirmed the new Queensland divisional leaders – Major Mark Everitt, Divisional Commander; Major Fran Everitt, International Service Support Officer – Team Leader, Officer Personnel Support Services; and Major Darlene Murray, Officer Personnel Secretary – Team Leader.
Click on the slideshow below for more photos from the presentation and affirmation ceremonies at Stafford Corps yesterday: