Kevin Bauder: An Open Letter to Les Ollila

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Chuck Bumgardner's picture

I add my "Amen" to Kevin's well-worded tribute.

Matthew_Black's picture

I have  to add my amen as well. May God multiply men of courage and grace like Les Ollila.

"Taste and See that the Lord is Good!" Ps. 34:8

Matthew S. Black, Pastor, Living Hope Bible Church of Roselle, Illinois

mmartin's picture

If this is the case about Dr. Ollila and thus NIU, then tell me again exactly why NIU now feels it needs change like it is so it can become more gospel centered now than ever and less legalistic (according to many of its recent graduates & students)???


One thing about Dr. Ollila is that he always remained true to himself and his beliefs. 


He didn't try to become something he wasn't.

Jay's picture

In all of your work, you modeled personal sacrifice. You gave of yourself and your resources. You often used your honoraria to allow other Northland teachers or administrators to travel with you, and you used those times for fellowship and discipleship. You surrendered whatever fortune you might have had for the wellbeing of the institution you served. You spent yourself in labors night and day. You did this all with no recognition and hardly any thanks. Few people have glimpsed what you gave in order that Northland might prosper.

You did all of these things side-by-side with the school’s founder. To all appearances, you faithfully implemented his wishes for the college. From all public interactions, it appears that he honored you for it, as well he might. It took your vision, humility, and energy to bring Northland Baptist Bible College to the height of its prosperity and influence.

When you left the presidency of Northland, you managed to succeed where many have failed. You stayed within the institution and became an asset to your successor. You supported his ministry and leveraged your influence to open doors for him. If there was any disagreement with the direction of Northland under his leadership, we outsiders never heard about it. You have shown yourself to be an ethical follower as well as a godly leader. In all of this you are above reproach.

Les, I have never attended Northland. I have never served on its faculty or staff. Nevertheless, because of your ministry the school and its alumni have been a source of refreshment to me. You and they have ministered in my life. Furthermore, I do not believe that I am alone in this. Because self-denying servants are not typically the sort of people who harangue the masses or start silly Internet petitions, you may not be aware of how much some Northland graduates respect and appreciate you.

Dr. Bauder's well written tribute isn't the half of it.  Dr. Ollila is a dear servant of God, a wonderful man, and a real blessing to sit under at NBBC [now NIU].  I am very thankful for his life and example to me, even some ten plus years after I graduated.  He is running his race well, and I am sure that it's a life that is pleasing to the Lord.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Joel Tetreau's picture

There is no question Kevin is right on the mark to note the impact of Dr. O on hundreds if not thousands of us both in and out of the Northland family. Thx Kevin for the open letter. It shares what many of us have in our hearts for Dr. O's life, character and leadership. I remember when I first arrived at Detroit Seminary in the Fall of 1991. In that first Mid-America Conference on Preaching I remember being in awe of both Dr. O and Doug. It wasn't long after that, Calvary Lansdale began to have their Conference on Leadership and again I remember wanting to sit as close to the front as I could to hear from these "Northland guys." Eventually I would study directly under Doug at Central in my doctorate. Dr. O you are loved and we praise God for your fearless leadership over the decades. As we try to always say.......

Straight Ahead!



Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (; Regional Coordinator for IBL West (, Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Aaron Blumer's picture


Let's please avoid a discussion in this thread about changes at NIU. I think we've been over that enough here lately... and there are other threads where that topic is in focus.

Though I haven't had much opportunity since high school days, I enjoyed Les' ministry then as a teen a few times and found that he gave me much to think about.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.