A Tribute to a Lifelong Learner

People are complex. You can stand up and talk about someone for an hour and the minute you sit down you remember 20 more things about them. That is why I love people. God makes each one of us in this insanely unique way that cannot be replicated but always amazes.

Today (January 14) is the second anniversary of Mike O’Rear’s sudden passing. It is a time to remember Mike and be inspired by the way God made him and prepared him for service. And if each of you reading this post who knew him would stand up and share, you would each teach those in the room about the unique person you experienced and spent time with.

Since taking the role of CEO at GMI, I have gotten to know Mike in a very unique way. I spent time with him before his death, but for the past year and a half I have lived in the footsteps he would have walked. I have talked with the donors he would have visited. I have been on the airplanes he would have boarded. I have prayed through the decisions he would have made. I did not respond as he would have . . . I’m a unique creation as well. But that fact allows me to appreciate him all the more.

One of the things that continues to amaze me about Mike’s life was his commitment to be a lifelong learner. He was always asking questions, researching and probing the issues of the day.

An example of this lifelong learning discipline was in his regular column with Dr. Scott Moreau in Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ) called “Mission Resources on the Web.” In these articles Mike and Scott scoured the Internet and brought some of the best resources on different subjects to the table for EMQ readers to feast . . . and what a feast they served up!

As I was remembering Mike this week, I decided to pull out a bunch of these EMQ articles and look through them. I was amazed at the detail, breath and depth of engagement that they both brought to the issues. Mike brought that same level of engagement to his work at GMI; which is evidenced by the fact that I still use his notes, contacts and files as important references in my work today.

So to highlight and celebrate Mike’s passion for learning, I decided I would pull out the April issues of EMQ for the years of 2002-2007 and list below the diverse topics that he and Scott tackled. If you get a chance to dig into the digital archives or look back over your old copies of EMQ, don’t miss spending some time with Mike through these articles:

  • April 2002: Missions Fundraising
  • April 2003: Theology of Mission on the Web
  • April 2004: And So the Story Goes . . . Web Resources on Storytelling, Myths and Proverbs
  • April 2005: Oceania On the Web
  • April 2006: Browsing Virtual Libraries and Book Collections
  • April 2007: Missions-related News on the Web

I’m grateful to Mike for his inquisitive mind and willingness to ask the hard questions. I’m also grateful that he made this investment to share what he was learning. So now we must ask what we will learn from this faithful Christian who gave his life to mission.

How are you planning to invest in lifelong learning as you begin this New Year?

A Busy Week and a New Phase of Ministry Launched

“In today’s world, we seem more fractured and divided than ever with agendas and spin permeating everything as people jockey to get the corner on people’s perception of truth. And as the world fights over perception, what is the responsibility of the Global Church? I believe one of the main roles of the Global Church is to humbly discover truth together and bring it to light. As a research organization, GMI’s priority is not to accumulate more and more isolated data that can be used by various groups to win hearts and minds. While we must always be keeping the data current,
the pressing need of the day is decision-making!”
Jon Hirst, GMI Installation Service January 22, 2013

The audience at the GMI Decision Support Initiative Last week was a big one for the GMI team on three fronts. We released some findings from our research on ministry worker decision-making at our Decision Support Briefing and tested some new product/service ideas with those that attended. If you want to find out more from this event, please visit the web page for the event. This event represents significant thinking and momentum for GMI and will be key to the tools and services we focus on in the next year or so.

 

Secondly, we held the installation service for my role. This was a time to celebrate Mike O’Rear’s Kingdom legacy, talk about the transtion and then give a vision for the future of GMI. I was so blessed by all those who came to listen, sing, pray and dream with our team. We focused our vision-casting on the new phrase that is describing GMI’s ministry: GMI helps Kingdom workers make Spirit-led decisions that advance the Global Church. 

The Installation of Jon Hirst as GMI President

We would love for you to get a sense for the evening. The best way is to go to the page we set up for the event. There you can download my remarks, see the memorial we did for Mike O’Rear and see a map of where attendees prayed for decision-makers around the world. Click here to view these resources.

Finally, with all our staff from around the country in town, we spent some wonderful time strategizing about what God has for us this year. It was a good time of thinking and I came away excited about what God is going to do.

It seems like an eternity since the administrative team of the International Orality Network prayed over me days before I assumed this new role. So much has happened to strengthen my faith and humble my heart. While we still face many challenges in crafting a way forward to serve the Global Church, I am confident that God is working through our efforts.

I look forward to serving each of you who spend some time reading this post. Ple

A Kingdom Life - Remembering Mike O’Rear

“And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!”

Untitled Hymn sung by Chris Rice

Where is real life found? Does it come from positional influence, personal accomplishments or inherent skill? We as Christians know that these things do not bring life. Instead life comes from Jesus. As John 17:3 says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (NIV)

Mike O’Rear knew where to find real life. And on this, the first anniversary of his passing (January 14), I want to highlight this key feature of his legacy. Mike is a Kingdom soul. One of the things that drew me to him was the fact that he strived not to look to the world for affirmation of what he should do in his personal or professional life. Although I know he was far from perfect, I am certain that he was focused on the Kingdom.

That came out in several key things:

  1. His Kingdom orientation was obvious by how he treated others. He did not give preference to the important and in many ways he worked to elevate those who were important in the Kingdom but ignored in this world.
  2. He strived to view the world as God sees it. I saw this in the way he pursued projects that would bring light to things that God cared about around the world.
  3. He was not afraid of the future. He embraced innovation and the ambiguity that it brought with it. While he was an engineer who liked to organize his life, I was always amazed by his ability to approach the next thing with faith and courage.

As I now strive to continue Mike’s legacy and serve the Global Church through the ministry of GMI, his Kingdom focus is a great encouragement to me. My prayer is that I personally and GMI as a community will continue to advance the Kingdom through humble service.

I would love to hear your stories from Mike’s life and any thoughts you have as we remember him on this Monday. Please take a moment to share them here or go to GMI’s facebook page and leave a note of rememberance there.

I took a moment to pull out some quotes from others about Mike. Take a moment to read through these as you remember him today:

  • Mike had a passion to support decision-makers in world missions with appropriate technology.” Dr. Jay Gary
  • “He was one of the early ones who encouraged me to pursue the intersection between technology and missions.” Justing Long
  • “He was a gentlemen and had a servant’s heart.” James Stephens
  • “The global mission enterprise has lost a champion. But Heaven gained a great citizen — and one day we’ll see Mike again… and he’ll have maps drawn of the entire place… and he’ll distribute them on the latest medium when we arrive, whatever that medium is — he’ll be ready.” Doug Lucas
  • Reflections on Mike O’Rear from the GMI Staff.