Mike Gunderson '82:
Career: Latin American Church Planting Coach with ReachGlobal
Home: Prior Lake, Minn.
Family: Wife, Linda (Patznick '86), Children: Nicholas, Ali
From Roseville to Rio
Mike Gunderson ’82 never could have anticipated the things God had in store as his ministry led to exotic Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I knew I wanted to be in ministry when I went to Northwestern,” Gunderson said, “but I didn’t know for sure the direction that the Lord wanted me to go.” Gunderson became a youth pastor after college and went to seminary.
In the midst of seminary, Gunderson experienced two pivotal events that changed his course: “The Lord called me into missions and I fell in love and married Linda, the most amazing young woman who has ever walked the halls of NWC, who had received her call to missions at age six.”
With hearts on fire for missions, the Gundersons headed for Brazil, where they served for 17 years. “Linda and I went to Brazil with my [NWC] roommate and basketball teammate, Brian Miller ’83, and his wife Tina (Jace ’85) Miller. We planted the first [Evangelical] Free Church in Rio de Janeiro together.
About four years ago, while still in Rio, their course shifted again. “At that time the Lord clearly directed us to leave Brazil to embrace regional and international ministries,” Gunderson said. This new call led to a role training and coaching church planters throughout Latin America.
Gunderson, a third-generation Northwestern student (his grandfather Chester Gunderson took classes and his father, Richard, graduated in 1957), believes his strong Christian upbringing, solid training in the local church and his studies at NWC gave him a strong foundation for overseas missions. “I had a blast at NWC,” Gunderson recalled. “It changed my life forever.”