You could say the Wilsons’ beginnings have been rather…story-worthy. Just ask them about their wedding.
To start with, Michele Wilson’s parents’ house had caught fire two months before, so her family had to live in a motel for several weeks. Then Mick Wilson got a kidney stone the week of the wedding and was stuck in the hospital. So, Michele had to go get the wedding license on her own, but wasn’t allowed to retrieve it without Mick there. They were finally able to find a judge who would make an exception. But with guests arriving from all over the country, they didn’t want to cancel the wedding due to Mick’s health. As his condition worsened on the day of the wedding, they decided to hold the wedding with close family in the hospital chapel. However, poor Mick couldn’t use any painkillers because no drugs allowed for weddings to be considered legal.
The reception could continue on…sans groom who couldn’t leave the hospital. No worries, just feed the guests lots of cake…except for the incident with the chandelier. It was just installed in Michele Wilson’s newly-renovated-from-fire house. But…it broke. And fell on the cake.
The Wilsons had other beginnings with stories behind them. Mick’s position as a school teacher eventually turned into the opportunity to minister to high school kids through Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru). That eventually turned into a job at a church with a camping ministry. Then their work became international with One Challenge (OC). They were supposed to go to Brazil with OC, but the political climate changed and they couldn’t get a visa. So, Germany, here they come! But after about four years of serving there, Wilson sent a letter to the OC home office recommending that they provide more pre-field training to people moving overseas so that their own beginnings would go a little more smoothly. And that launched another new beginning—a request from OC for the Wilsons to move back to the States to launch the training themselves.
The next beginning came when he joined Barnabas International, which allowed Wilson to facilitate the Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills workshops.
“The workshop was growing so rapidly, we needed to get more and more facilitators, particularly in other countries,” Wilson said. “That became a major part of my ministry.”
And then—in 2007—he began the Paraclete part of his story, where he’s continued to facilitate workshops. The goal has been to help teams work better in a way that honors their differences.
What Sharpening Interpersonal Skills did was teach team members to respect God’s gifts in other people. Even though people have a 180-degree different approach to ministry, everybody’s on the team God put them on, so He must want us to work together, Wilson said. And now people need to figure out how to do that well because that then speaks volumes to the surrounding community.
Wilson has also known personally some of the stress of working with others in ministries. Some of those stresses led to painful endings and losses.
“One counselor told me that the gift of encouragement is the main gift I have, and then prophet, not for telling the future, but for telling the truth,” he said. “And unfortunately, I cannot not speak truth into people’s lives when the Lord prompts me to do so. And I found out that some leaders prefer to not have a prophet in their midst.”
But the Wilsons approached their ministry with a desire for genuine relationships, choosing this verse from I Thessalonians 2:7-8 (NIV) to guide them. “But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”
In the meantime, Michele Wilson has worked at Focus on the Family as Vice President of Human Resources, and most recently, at Faith Comes by Hearing. She also served on the board of One Challenge.
But now, 50 years after that eventful wedding and 50 years after their ministry started, Mick is retiring from official ministry. And for this transition into a new beginning? Of retirement?
“We’re just learning to trust that each step along the way He has something,” Wilson said. “And He knows what’s best.”