By Michael Ireland
Michael G. O’Rear, Global Mapping International (GMI) President and CEO , suffered a sudden heart attack on January 11. After several days in intensive care, surrounded by family and friends, O’Rear died Thursday morning (Jan.19). He was 57.
Mike O’Rear was born in Andalusia, Alabama, in 1954. He attended Montana Institute of the Bible and Wheaton College, where he earned an MA in Communications in 1981. He joined the staff of the US Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California, in 1983 and was introduced to the work of GMI on that campus. Mike led GMI since 1991, when he took the reins from GMI’s founder, Bob Waymire.
O’Rear set the tone and direction for GMI’s contributions to the evangelical mission community, including mapping, publishing, research services and information technology. He was largely responsible for defining and implementing GMI’s key values of excellence in research and partnership with all evangelical mission leaders, especially those in the Global South.
O’Rear served in global roles such as Senior Associate for Information Technology for the Lausanne Movement. He also held key roles in the local community. At Covenant Presbyterian Church he taught Sunday School and led a community within the church. He also served a four-year term on the board of his public school district.
GMI (www.gmi.org) is an international team of evangelical research, mapping and technical professionals passionate about informing, equipping and connecting the Church with information that will equip them to serve.
Founded in 1983 at the U.S. Center for World Mission, GMI has a rich history of facilitating strategic mission research and mapping for international Christian ministries. GMI is a member of The Mission Exchange and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and subscribes to the Lausanne Covenant.
“Mike’s death is a tragic loss for all of us who considered him a close friend as well as a loss for GMI, the mission community in Colorado Springs, the US and the entire world,” said GMI board chair Jane Overstreet.
“The GMI board with Mike’s help had agreed on contingency plans in case of an event such as this, and I am so grateful to announce Bill Dickson has stepped graciously into the role of Acting CEO with the full support of the board,” said Overstreet. “Even this week, he has made many wise decisions on behalf of the ministry that reflect his 28 years of history with GMI and close involvement in its leadership.”
“Mike gave selflessly to create an environment where we could do research, mapping, and publishing work without worrying about a vast array of funding and administrative details,” said longtime friend Bill Dickson, Acting CEO of GMI. “He came to GMI as a researcher, hoping to do the work himself, but ultimately found he could have more effect for the Kingdom by enabling others all around the world to do the work he so deeply believed in.”
O’Rear was married to Laura, his partner in life and in ministry for 28 years. She served alongside him at GMI. They have four adult children, one grandson and a daughter-in-law expecting triplets later this year.
A memorial service to honor O’Rear’s life was held at Covenant Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, January 18. Memorial gifts will benefit the global ministry of GMI. These can be sent to GMI, PO Box 63719, Colorado Springs, CO 80962.