At the age of 91, the Rev. Ollie Howard has been on the battlefield for a long time.
“I have served on the mission field for a long time,” said Howard, a White Oak, Ala., native. “During the ’60s, I was part of a prayer band with the late Mother Florine Baker. We went from house to house in Liberty County and in McIntosh County, praying for people.”
Howard is well-versed in the word of God. When she moved to Liberty County, she only had an eighth-grade education; she later attended school as an adult. She has taken various Christian education classes to further her understanding of God’s word and to accelerate her spiritual level.
Prior to her retirement, Rev. Howard worked at various jobs in the county. She was employed at the old Georgia Hotel in Hinesville and walked to work. She recalled earning wages of $2.50 weekly. But she had a good work ethic. In the ’60s, she owned a store. She spent eight years working at Bradwell Institute. Her last job was with the Tri County Shelter; she earned her last paycheck in 1997.
However, her work for God goes on. Howard is an ordained local elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Pastor Debbie Neal of St. Peter’s AME in Midway said Howard was instrumental in starting the outreach ministry to the Woodlands Nursing Home in Midway, where she leads a worship service for the residents on the second Saturday of each month. Howard also assembles a group of St. Peter’s youth and choir members each month to continue the ministry. Neal added that Howard has been a faithful member and leader of the prayer band ministry at St. Peter’s.
“I like to encourage and comfort people and reach out to those in distress, especially young mothers,” Howard said. “Whatever comes your way, and you think you can’t handle it, wait on God and He will work it out for you.”
“Even at the wonderful age of 91, she continues to minister effectively through the spoken word as she preaches at St. Peter’s monthly,” Neal said. “She attends our Discipleship Academy, teaches church school, and is usually the first one to arrive at the church for all worship services and celebrations — even our 8 a.m. worship service.”
Neal said that Howard does all this despite not driving a car. Still, Howard always manages to be present at various ministry and community events. She also travels with the congregation for various fellowship opportunities with other churches throughout Liberty, Long, Ware, Effingham, and Chatham counties and even into South Carolina. Neal described her as “a formidable voice who stands up for justice for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
“I am truly grateful for the service of Rev. Howard, her many prayers, and her many words of wisdom to me over the years,” Neal said. “She has been and continues to be an invaluable asset to the ministry at St. Peter’s.”
Howard, who was ordained as a local elder in 1997, reciprocated the feeling.
“(Neal’s) teaching is wonderful,” Howard said. “She knows what to put out so I can feast on it and get to another level. Because of Pastor Neal, I am doing nursing-home ministry. She is a beautiful and great lady, not only for St. Peter’s, but Liberty County as well.”
Howard advises young ministers to have patience.
“Don’t be envious of someone else’s ministry. God will lead you as to what He wants you to do. When you get grace, you can make it because grace comes from above,” Howard said.
Howard’s favorite Scriptures are Psalm 1 and John 17, and her favorite songs are “Bringing in the Sheaves” and “Amazing Grace.” She is the mother of three adopted children, Maurice, Cherry, and Quincy. Besides her ministry, Howard likes to feed animals that gather in her yard: birds, cats, dogs and ducks that eat up everything. Her exercise is achieved by cooking, cleaning and working in her yard.