By Sheila McCoy
Growing up in Osakis, Chris Mikkelson, 34, never dreamed of one day becoming an evangelist.
Even though he attended a small country church and knew about the Christian faith, Mikkelson said he never fully devoted his life to Jesus until later.
Instead, during his senior year of high school, he started drinking and attending parties. That quickly escalated in his college years to include both weekdays and weekends.
“It was at one of those parties someone introduced me to drugs,” Mikkelson said.
Before he knew it, he was using marijuana every day. After he completed his general subjects at Fergus Falls Community College in Fergus Falls, he attended the law enforcement program at Alexandria Technical College in Alexandria.
It was also there he started dealing marijuana and sometimes, other kinds of drugs, as well. But it didn’t take long for all that to come to an end.
“I dropped out after the first year because I was a drug dealer. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite to go to law enforcement school and then deal drugs,” Mikkelson said.
A few years later, when Mikkelson had moved to the Twin Cities, he met his wife, Amanda.
A couple of months into their relationship, Amanda sensed a change in their lives and asked Mikkelson if he’d go to church with her.
“She didn’t think that I would ever want to go to church with her because she didn’t understand my background. I didn’t share that with people. I was this rough, tough guy who got into fights and was dealing drugs,” he said.
It was an invite by the pastor that Sunday that led the two to return to the church. However, they went to the wrong service.
“It was for parents whose teenage children were living the way we were living, being into drugs and alcohol,” Mikkelson said.
But it was what began their walk toward God. Two months later, Mikkelson said he had a moment of realization that he needed to change the way he was living and turn to God.
“I didn’t know what all that meant, but I knew I needed to do it. I had been running for years from God because I didn’t want to turn from my sin. I loved my sin and didn’t want to stop,” he said.
One thing Mikkelson realized early on was that even though he wholeheartedly believed God had delivered him, that it was up to him to make the right choices.
About a year later they enrolled in the Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas.
“I just wanted to share about Jesus and had a great desire to be able to communicate the gospel to people. But I didn’t necessarily know how,” Mikkelson said.
Getting involved in street evangelism, Mikkelson came up with a three-point system based off three questions.
“The questions are: ‘What do you know about Jesus? Can I share with you what I know about Jesus? Do you want to receive Jesus as your Lord and savior,?” he said.
At one point, world-renowned evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke, visited the institute and Mikkelson was even more inspired to pursue evangelism.
“I heard about what Reinhard was doing in Africa and how millions were coming to Christ. I prayed and asked God to show me what he wanted me to do,” Mikkelson said.
He had also read in a book that it was better to shadow an established evangelist to learn from them before launching his own ministry. That way many mistakes could be avoided.
Through a series of events that Mikkelson describes as God making a way for him, he eventually became a personal assistant to Daniel Kolenda, who evangelized alongside Bonnke.
It was something Mikkelson had previously thought near impossible, since in his eyes he was just a simple small town boy. Bonnke and Kolenda were famous evangelists.
After shadowing Bonnke and Kolenda for three years, Mikkelson and Amanda launched their own ministry, “Chris Mikkelson Evangelistic Ministries.” Today, he and his wife travel across the world to share the gospel.
It often takes them into some of the darkest areas where Christianity is a minority, such as south Asia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Sometimes it can get downright dangerous.
“It’s all about knowing Jesus, loving him and making him known,” Mikkelson said.