Olea Nel was born in Cape Town, South Africa. After completing her training as a teacher in Andrew Murray's heartland of Wellington, she relocated to Australia to further her studies. Besides attaining a Ph.D. in Linguistics, she also has qualifications in Information Studies and Theology. She has taught at several tertiary institutions in Australia.
As an active Christian and a pastor’s wife, she is often called upon to speak at women’s groups.
Being retired from her secular position as a senior librarian at the National Library of Australia, she is now able to pursue her passion for research, especially within the fields of church history and biography. Her aim is to serve God by sharing her findings with other Christians. She is presently writing the second novel in her trilogy on the life of Andrew Murray. It will be titled Andrew Murray Destined to Win.
What inspired you to write about Andrew Murray?
When I was growing up in Cape Town, Andrew Murray was still a household name. But unfortunately, the younger generation today, especially those living in South Africa, no longer know much about him. So I decided to turn this situation around as best I could
Tell us a little about Andrew Murray
Andrew Murray is known today as one of the great heroes of the faith, as well as an author, par excellence, of devotional works. In my opinion, few authors plumb the depth of topics such as prayer, holiness, humility, and the need to be filled with the Spirit, like he does. When you read his works, you know that you are encountering an author who has walked the high road of holiness before you.
But besides his books, he was also a giant on the church stage in South Africa. He was not only the moderator of the Dutch Reformed Synod over a period of thirty years, but also one of the prime movers in establishing its mission thrust into Africa. And when the Synod was too slow to meet a particular need, he and his congregation in Wellington would try to do so.
For example, when there were few Dutch teachers for farm schools during the mid-nineteenth century, he decided that the only way forward was to educate young women for the task—and this at a time when men usually filled that role. As a result, he and his Wellington congregation established the Huguenot Educational Seminary for young women in 1874. Not long after, he establishment the Missionary Training Institute for men in Wellington. And although he became one of the great missionary statesmen of the nineteenth century, this fact is little known today.
What makes these three talks special is the fact that Andrew Murray never revised them for publication as he had done with sermons he had delivered at other conventions during 1895. They are therefore basically word for word as he delivered them. I therefore invite you to imagine Andrew Murray preaching these sermons with light and shade and fiery exuberance.
A boyish and fun-loving Andrew Murray arrives back in South Africa after being ordained at the Hague on his twentieth birthday in 1848. But not long after his appointment as pastor to the Dutch emigrants beyond the borders of the Cape, he feels overwhelmed by the task, and starts to doubt his calling. It does not take him long to realize that he has to either man-up or bow out.
Although the Great Awakening at the Cape in 1860 was as powerful as its precursors in America, Ireland and Wales, its story has never been fully told until now. Dr. Olea Nel has succeeded in filling a much needed gap in the literature by describing these events through the lives of three key players: Andrew Murray, Nicolass Hofmeyer and Gottlieb van der Lingen.