Mike Gower, one of the best Christians I have ever known and one of my dearest friends, passed away just a few days after Christmas. I first met Mike a couple years before Jill and I moved to Redding. On a vacation to visit friends who helped start Risen King we stayed in one of the rooms of the men’s dorm at Simpson University where Mike served as the Resident Director. As we walked by his office to head up the stairs to our room I will never forget his loud, cheerful, welcoming voice and presence. “Hi, I’m Mike Gower! You must be the Randalls…” He and I talked briefly several times on that vacation. I remember him being passionate about fishing, discipleship, his church, and especially his wife Caroline. Over the years I’ve grown to appreciate Mike as “the Patriarch” of Risen King Community Church as well as Simpson University. For many young adults who had an unfortunate or non-existent relationship with their father, Mike became a real “father to the fatherless.” God used Mike to help many young adults launch a healthier marriage, and he and Caroline helped many failing marriages find their way to reconciliation and fruitfulness.
Mike was always prepared to share something fresh he had discovered in the Word or from a book he had recently been reading. And Mike always had a story. “Well, there was this time back at Smokey Point…” Mike was a great student of the Bible as well as of life. Mike loved the outdoors, especially all things fishing. So many fishing stories!
There were many occasions where Mike helped me deal with some of the toughest pastoral situations that have ever come my way. And Mike discipled and supported so many emerging leaders, including most of my staff through the years. Mike took the lead with regard to the pastoral transition from the previous lead pastor to myself. He also led the first church facility/property search team that launched our long journey to our new location on Oasis Road.
More than anything else Mike was and will always be remembered as a man who walked in love. Mike loved people and they knew it. He was an encourager and a wise confidant. Many proudly refer to Mike as their mentor. There are so many stories of restoration, reconciliation and rededication associated with the life of Mike Gower. And while no one can take Mike’s place, I am left with many challenging questions, like:
- Who will step up and continue to say and do what Mike said and did as an ambassador for Christ?
- Who will warmly welcome people as Mike did?
- Who will fill our rooms with contagious laughter?
- Who will be the encourager of spiritual discipline and obedience as Mike was?
- Who will believe in those who others would not, and walk with them toward wholeness and maturity?
- Who will love people enough to speak the hard word that needs to be said, yet in such an authentic spirit of love that the message penetrates deeply unto transformation?
- Who will visibly live a life of consistent gratitude and positive hope for the future even in the midst of enormous trials?
Who will stand in the gap?
Mike’s life and now his legacy provoke an urgency within me to live a bigger and better life. Away with living for less than what matters most, than what Jesus promises and makes possible for all. Now may the same Holy Spirit that made Mike the vibrant testimony he is come upon me and any others who are willing to step up and say, “Yes!” “Yes” to the call of Jesus to live passionately for what will last and to finish well.
What will be your answer to the call?
Mike was an amazing man of God. I will never forget his command that “family comes before ministry”. I am grateful for the great pre-marital counseling that he and Caroline gave to Renee’ and myself.
Mike had such wisdom and I’m glad with you Steve that he shared so much of it with us. We will never be the same.
Mike Gower was absolutely an Ambassador of God’s Love! He was gentle and warm, ALWAYS making you feel welcome. A year and a half ago, I got the call the Mike was in the hospital and may not make it. I came down to the hospital to be with Caroline and Mike and tell them how much I love them and all they have done for me, supporting me and guiding me in the troubles in my life. As Mike is having an exhausting time breathing…. being the man he is, Mike starts asking me how my situation is, if I am standing up for what is right and what God wants for my life and my childrens’ lives. I’m thinking, what in the heck is doing, we don’t need to talk about my problems, you can hardly breathe and you are low on oxygen and you are trying to guide me still, I’m thinking, stop talking about me and lets talk about you. Well he wouldn’t have it, he held my hand and told me how much God loves me, how important I am to God and what God hopes in all our lives. He said some things that honestly, I didn’t want to hear, I was living in denial and pain and going back for more each day. He knew that and knew I deserved what God wanted for me. His words hit home for, I couldn’t help but think, how in the heck is his taking all his strength to tell me this, I NEED TO LISTEN! My children and I live in peace and God’s amazing love each and everyday because of tough choices I made with God’s love and support from Mike Gower and others. I am thankful for the honesty and love he sent me each time I saw him and Caroline. His love for Caroline and her love and devotion to her husband is an example for all of us! Find thanks in all circumstances! Thank you Mike for loving our Lord so much and making sure you told us how much he loves us too! You are an angel!
Thanks for sharing this Nicole. I am hearing so many stories like yours that only underline all the more what a wonderful man of God Mike was. Now it is time for us to live in light of the love and wisdom he shared with us and give it away to others. – Bill
Mike Gower’s influence goes back many years and extends beyond Simpson. He served as my youth pastor in junior high school in Salem, Oregon back in the 1970s. He and Caroline had their hands full with all of us, and I have fond, if increasing foggy memories of that time. You will be missed, Mike–but God has plans for you upstairs!
Yes Mike will always be a true inspiration in my eyes….With all the things that Nicole and others have said about him. I was truly inspired the first time he greeted me at the door to the gym at Mistletoe school. Once Mike found out that Nicole and I where engaged… he said to me “Take care of this Girl……….or I’m going to have to take care of you (with a wink in his eye)” . Of course I squeezed his hand a little harder and said ” Oh I will cause God has brought me an Angel…..and we wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself” It was truely a loving moment …. and we both laughed.
Because I never knew Mike, this comment is about the LOVE that mysteriously surrounds me now: through our loving Holy Spirit and through YOU guys in Christ. I’m so greatful for you and your prayers…and for those of you who can see Christ in us..It is Jesus!!!
I am typing up one of this guys children’s poems for a musical theatre exam.
What moving tributes to such a godly man! I am a christian also, and I take with me the love of Jesus Christ in my heart and soul. Wish I had met this lovely man!
God Bless you and your family…
Hey, Mike and Caroline Gower, WE LOVE YOU!!! You two are wonderful, you two helped Randy and I years ago! Please contact us at email@example.com This is named after a couple dogs we owned 🙂 God bless you two, Love Randy and Vicki Haragan, formerly of Beaverton.., now in Baker City, OR.