Wilson, Mike [Legacy Page]

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Legacy: Michael L. Wilson

“I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!”
— 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, The Message

mlw 500pxNov 27, 1951 — Dec 4, 2018

Mike's Story

Michael L. Wilson was born in Los Angeles. After spending his childhood in Highland Park, he graduated from Charter Oak High School, attended the University of Southern California on a full math scholarship, graduated from University of Redlands (BS Business Admin) and later studied at Talbot Seminary and graduated from Biola University (MA Intercultural Studies and Doctorate of Missiology).

mwilson bikeMichael lived a full life with energy and passion and cared deeply for people. He was proud to say he played basketball for USC (freshman team) and semi-pro baseball. He loved the outdoors, taking hikes into the Sierras in his youth and distance cycling. This included three “century rides” (100 miles) in 2016. He especially enjoyed riding with the Amblers, a group from Arcadia Community Church that frequently rides across the SoCal region.

For 12 years he worked at Jet Propulsion Laboratory developing press release photos of space during the Viking and Voyager projects. He worked as a professional photographer, was NASA certified in soldering, and was selected to work on the Challenger until an accident prevented him. At this time a series of serious accidents brought him back to God, and his passion for Christ became the center of his life. While continuing to work at JPL, his hunger for God and to know His Word drew him to classes at Talbot seminary. While attending seminary he expressed his compassion for underserved people by volunteering to preach at the Union Rescue Mission in local nursing homes.

God was stirring his heart toward missions when the untimely crash of the Challenger in 1986 caused layoffs at JPL. He worked as a substitute high school math teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District while preparing to teach English for a summer in China. Upon return, he began recruiting for English Language Institute for Evangelism. That’s where he met Mary Jo, while recruiting at a mission’s conference at Arcadia Presbyterian Church (Mary Jo was recruiting for Asian Access). They were married within the year.

After graduating from Biola he moved to Japan with his wife and their two small children where they served with Asian Access from 1994 to 2009, partnering with local pastors to start churches in Tokyo and Okinawa. Michael had a strong intellect and a prophetic voice that pushed the status quo. His enduring passion was, regardless of their situation, to see people come closer to God. He continued consulting and teaching in the U.S. and Asia, was a prolific writer in many venues, and in 2014 published Exponential Culture: Believer Transformation Disciple Multiplication.

Mike was truly a catalyst for Christ. His enthusiasm and challenging words are missed by family and a network of friends around the world.

mwilson teaching


In His Own Words

“I exist to move people closer to God.
If someone doesn’t know Christ, I want to introduce them.
If someone knows Christ, I want them to know him more and love him more.”


“My passion is to see the Church flourish and influence the world for Jesus Christ. To do this, the Church must focus on transforming disciples of Jesus Christ in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, equipping them to be attractive, uncompromising and uncompromised ambassadors of the Redeemer.”


— from Mike’s book, Exponential Culture

Michael L. Wilson 1951-2018


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Mike Wilson


Michael L. Wilson


Exponential Culture

Exponential-Culture coverExponential Culture: Believer Transformation Disciple Multiplication

The Japanese version is named 「急速に成長する教会」(translated meaning “Very Rapid Church Growth.”

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