Our dearest son,
From the autumn of 2007 to the summer of 2009, your father and I lived and taught in Langfang, China, a suburb of Beijing, China in the province of Hebei. Although we had never dreamed that we would ever live in China, it was an exciting adventure in life and faith for us, and a time we will never forget. It was an especially meaningful time for your father as he felt that he was following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, Dr. Oliver, who was a medical missionary to China in the early 1900’s. His work in China was sponsored by his beloved brother Andrew, who sent his earnings from the family farm to Oliver and his family. It is in honor of your great-great-grandfather’s legacy that we have decided to name you, “Oliver Andrew.”
Oliver- The 10-40 foot olive tree with its beautiful spreading branches is well-documented throughout the Bible. A dove brought Noah an olive leaf to signify the end of the flood, and olive oil was used to fuel the menorahs in the tabernacle. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they found olive groves waiting for them. The Mount of Olives was one of Jesus’ favorite places. It was where He was arrested and later ascended, and where he promised one day to return. The Hebrew word for “Messiah” means “to smear” with olive oil. Olive oil was expensive and utilized for its healing powers, for medicinal purposes, for food, for beauty treatments, for anointing priests and kings, and for offerings. Olive wood was strong and popular for carving. The olive tree is a symbol of fullness, fruitfulness, beauty, and dignity. “Extending an olive branch” signifies an offer of peace. The name Oliver means peaceful, and bringer of peace. Oliver can also mean chivalrous, sensitive, affectionate, joyful, kind one, supernatural being, forbear, and ancestor.
Andrew- Andrew was a fisherman, the brother of Simon Peter and the son of Jonah. He was a disciple of John the Baptist and of Jesus. Andrew and Peter immediately and permanently left home when Jesus called them to be “fishers of men.” He was the first chosen of the twelve apostles. Andrew has a reputation for bringing people to Jesus, including his brother Peter, the boy with the five barley loaves and the two fish (which fed an entire crowd of 5,000), and a group of Greeks (Gentiles) who wished to speak with Jesus. Andrew shows wisdom, common sense, personal conviction, and a missionary spirit. He was a man of action who acted on his faith and love, a man with a positive outlook in spite of negative situations, and a man who truly lived by what Jesus had called him to be – a fisher of men. The name Andrew means manly, warrior, strong, valiant, courageous, brave, mighty one, and conqueror.
As I write this letter, I can feel you kicking insistently at the inside of me. Maybe you know that I am writing to you now? You are already so near and dear to my heart. I ache to give you the assurances of a life without pain or heartache, full of strength and success. Yet our time with you has been fraught with confusion, discouragement, and concerns for the future. We cannot promise you a life of comfort and ease, but we can promise you our love, and the love of our Savior. Peace is our gift to you, that you might be still in the midst of chaos, knowing that the Lord will fight for you (Exodus 14:14-15). He will satisfy and sustain you. We also pray that God will help you to be brave and courageous when you are afraid. If you stand firm, you will see His deliverance. Only in Him will you find the valiant warrior within you, and only in Him will you flourish forever.
“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” Psalm 52:8