I want to be like Mike

By June 13, 2014Church, Church Planting

Typically, the only time Facebook makes me cry is when someone posts something so outrageously funny that it brings me to tears. Or, it’s so insanely stupid that I cry tears of sorrow … for myself and whoever should have had more sense than to post that picture or goofy update.

Not so yesterday.

After a long — but good — elders meeting at which we discussed the mission and vision of our church, I slumped on the couch and fired up Facebook. Three or four updates down on the page was one I did not expect.  It made me cry. Still does even right now.

A good friend of ours from San Diego died of brain cancer. Tonya and I first met Mike and Rita Osbourne when Tonya began teaching at the same school as Rita. Mike was an elder in a sister congregation and we had several opportunities to interact around school or church functions. His son, Jim, became a friend of mine as well and even preached a sermon or two at our church (I still remember that first sermon and it was over 20 years ago).

To say Mike was a driven person would be an understatement. When we first met, he owned a successful printing company and served as an elder in his church. By most standards, he was doing well.

But he was unsettled.

Mike was not only driven about his business, but also his family and his faith. He loved his town of Chula Vista and wanted to see his neighbors have a relationship with Jesus.

By the time Tony and I moved back to San Diego in 2005, Mike had sold his printing company and purchased a larger commercial glass company. With multiple locations, they did business with local governments, commercial developers, and more. When I asked him what happened to the print company, he simply said, “Rita and I wanted to give away more money so we had to make more money.” Then I asked him, “What do you know about commercial glass?”  His response: “Nothing. But it was a larger business with the opportunity to make more money so we could give away more money.”

Over the next few years, he invested in our start-up church on two occasions, both at critical times in our development. He later went on to personally fund the creation of two additional churches: Momentum Christian Church in Chula Vista and Rise City Church in Santee. When I say “personally fund” what I mean is … he wrote the checks that enabled those two churches to be started. And, remember, this is in San Diego and not North Dakota — things are a bit expensive.

Never once did he boast about what he had done. Instead, you would find him and Rita setting up tables and chairs or working in the kids ministry.

I remember Mike telling me, “We have to do this (referring to starting new churches) because we have to reach more people.” I felt the same way, only I could not write a check to provide salaries, facilities, and more. That’s not to say his role was more important — but it was important and necessary. All parts of the body are important and necessary.

When I think of the kind of Christ-follower I hope Mountainview produces, I think of Mike Osbourne. I think of someone who is willing to rethink and reorient their entire life, business, and career, to best serve the kingdom of God. I think of someone who lives with a sense of urgency (“we have to do this”) and then follows up with action.

Mike and Rita’s legacy will live on for generations through the churches they helped start and the lives who were changed as a result.

May God raise up more of their tribe.