Rev. Dr. Michael Barry Wieteska

Rev. Dr. Michael Barry Wieteska

Rather than electing to continue to do "A" levels at grammar school, Michael chose to go to Australia. Wanting to write, he believed he needed experience of life more than a university education to do this. In 1962 therefore, at the age of 17, under the auspices of the "Big Brother Movement", which took the guardianship of lone, under-age British boys beginning a new life "Down Under", he left Britain. After living wild and travelling widely in Australia, in a revivalist tent-meeting he met up with Pentecostal Christians - and proceeded to run away from God. However, the hounds of heaven followed him. Becoming a committed Christian in 1964, he immediately began street preaching on Sydney's skid row.

Electing to study part-time for ministry, rather than go to Theological College full time (which seemed too easy - echoes of his earlier decision) he took on numerous jobs, not only for finance, but also, "for the experience". Working in the environment of the tough Australian construction industry, for example, he tied steel and worked with explosives, before going on to be in charge of construction teams.

In 1968 he received his first ministerial licence, moving to Australia’s capital, Canberra, to assist in pioneering a new church there. From the end of 1969, he spent four months over-landing to Britain, via South-East Asia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and Communist Eastern Europe, preaching at mission stations on the way. In England, at a Christian coffee-bar he met Lorna, to which she had invited by her twin brother, Derek. (After taking Classics, Derek had gone to Central and South America to work with V.S.O. There, he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Derek returned to Britain, with a place Oxford University to study theology, but, because of his father's illness, opted to stay at home with him, and took up teaching. Derek is a well established speaker and writer in British Christian circles.) Lorna had previously been selected, one of few out of hundreds of applicants, to work in the prestigious World Health Organization in Geneva.

While in Geneva, she also qualified as a ski instructor. Tiring of Geneva's materialism, she went on to Canada, teaching skiing at Whistler. After her father's heart-attack, she returned to England, and then moved to London to take up a position in Harley Street, at the British Cancer Research Institute. Courtesy of a brother studying at London School of Economics, Michael travelled down from Manchester at weekends to London, to see her. They married in July 1971, and returned to Australia (once again, via a four month preaching tour of Pakistan, India, Thailand and the Philippines). Initially, they lived in Canberra, where Michael continued to assist the church, while Lorna worked as P.A. for the Canadian High Commissioner, Dean of the diplomatic corps. In 1972 they were appointed full-time evangelists, and in 1973 relieving missionaries to New Zealand. Duties there, as well as pastor in Auckland, duties included conference speaking and the training of Maori ministry. At the return of the furloughing missionaries, having established a warm relationship with Maori and Pacific Islanders, they desired to continue working in the Pacific region. Selling their home in Australia, they bought a boat in Britain, with the intention of sailing it back to the Pacific.

Returning to England in 1974, the yacht was launched. However, short of cash to fully equip it, they went to Geneva, Switzerland, where Lorna resumed a short-term contract at the World Health Organization. Staying longer than anticipated, they established a group of Spirit-filled believers, who initially met in their home. Handing this group over to a newly arrived missionary couple from America, they finally went on their way.

Arriving at Gibraltar, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred in the Methodist Church (long story), where a number were baptized with the Spirit, which included the then Sunday-school Superintendent and his wife. (This couple now pastor that Methodist Church.) Unable to proceed from Gibraltar - another long story - and the American missionary family to Switzerland being refused visas, they returned to Switzerland, to pastor the embryonic church. Lorna resumed work at W.H.O., and continued there many years, as a Press Officer, enabling them to retain residency status in Switzerland. Simultaneously mother of the church, her dedication, love and energy made an un-estimable contribution to the growing congregation. As the church grew, it birthed other churches, not only in Switzerland, but overseas, in Singapore and the Philippines. Church members were also instrumental in establishing missions in Sri Lanka.

Early in 1990 Michael and Lorna took charge of Julie-Ange, just five years of age, whose parents, both church members, had recently died. Julie went on to be pianist in the church, before leaving to study in Britain. In 2007, after a long illness bravely borne, Lorna died of cancer.

Back in 2006, Michael first met, at the I.L.O. retirement party of a former member, Tess. By profession a statistician, Tess is a Filipina national who, while working at the United Nations, is also a licensed minister. While travelling in Australia, after Lorna's death, Michael's thoughts turned to Tess. On returning to Europe for a short time, late in 2007, the conviction that Tess should be his wife solidified. Michael and Julie-Ange then went to the Philippines, to spend Christmas there together, with friends. While there, his love for Tess, desire and conviction that she should be his wife, became so firm that he proposed to her over the telephone, while she was in Switzerland. After much prayer, Tess finally accepted his proposal, and they were married in 2008. Tess has brought fresh hope and inspiration to Michael, who ably assists both her husband and the ministry of the Church of the Living Saviour.