Michael Gibson thought he wanted to become an engineer, but by the time he got to his senior year of high school he decided engineering wasn’t meant for him. It took a late night encounter with a homeless mother and child in the Philippines to convince him that God indeed had a plan for him.
During his junior year at Sandia View Academy, Gibson signed up for an evangelistic mission trip to the Philippines. Thinking he could help out with audio/visual needs, he was thoroughly surprised when his principal told him that he would be preaching at one of the many sites where evangelistic meetings would be held.
“God, if this is what you want me to do, you’re going to have to make me want to do it because I really don’t want to do it,” Gibson remembers praying. “So I started preparing the sermons and I started getting into it. When I got to my site the first night, it was just a perfect fit. I felt right at home just speaking and being a minister to those people there. It felt like the right thing I needed to do in my life. It was where I fit in.”
But the most significant moment for Gibson took place late one night during the trip. Everybody got the day off to go explore and relax at an island resort. The group had the option of staying or going to the island, so Gibson and three other people decided to go to their sites.
After the meetings that night, they decided to go buy ice cream from a McDonald’s down the road. As they walked to it, they passed an old woman who was asking for food and then a second woman with a small child.
“We went into McDonald’s and we just stood there, nobody really making a move to do anything,” says Gibson. All of a sudden, one of the girls in the group went up to the counter and ordered a huge meal, confusing the others. She walked outside and went up the older woman to give her the food and then they all prayed with her. The girl who bought the food then hugged the older lady.
“She just kept saying over and over again, ‘She touched me, she touched me.’ I can’t imagine what she was feeling then,” remembers Gibson. “Others look at the people on the streets of the Philippines as scum, and we as Americans take the human touch for granted.”
Remembering the lady with the child they pooled all their money and ordered a meal. When they got to her, Gibson remembers: “The little child just reached up for the food like it was starving. It was the cutest and saddest thing I’d ever seen. We prayed with her as well and when we stood up she was just in awe and shock.”
“God works through people who are willing to work with him. I feel like we were led by the Spirit that night.”
The small group went back to the hotel and didn’t go to sleep until 4 or 5 in the morning because they just sat there talking about the experience and how it was so powerful for them. They listened to God’s leading. Gibson finally realized the mission trip wasn’t about him or his group but about the people that he was ministering to.
“That night, for me, was telling me that this is what I needed to do, because if people can see Christ through my actions and know Christ better, then my life is complete.”
Now at Southwestern as a freshman theology major, Gibson feels at home and enjoys it immensely. “I chose to come to Southwestern because of the family atmosphere that it has,” he says. “Whenever I was able to visit here through basketball tournaments, music fest, and university days, everybody seemed really connected. When I got here to actually go to school, I realized that it’s mostly like that. Sure people gravitate towards similarly interested people but generally, you can pretty much go up to anybody and be friends.”
When asked what he sees himself doing 15 years down the road, Gibson answered, “I see myself becoming a youth pastor wherever God calls me to be, but I also want to be a camp director. I’ve worked at summer camp for the past few years and it’s a huge ministry that I believe in and want to get involved in as a leader.”
He hasn’t had any regrets or doubts about majoring in theology and put it this way, “There is pretty much nothing else I can do with my life where I’d feel as fulfilled.”