By Brother Jed Smock
Michael Leisner was a bear of a man. He was of Germanic stock. He was 6 foot 2 inches tall. He had large hands and a firm grip and a firmer grip on the Gospel.
Mike appeared to be taller than he was, because he had a way of speaking in which he bent over peered into your face in order to look into your soul. Then he spoke to your spirit. He towered over his fellows spiritually because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity. Everything Mike did he did enthusiastically as on to the Lord.
Mike Leisner was a man, like Stephen, “full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.” He walked in the power of God.
Like Stephen, Mike served tables. Mike faithfully served my ministry. When I first met him in the early 80’s, he was at a low point in his life. He was living in an abandoned hotel with a sterno for heat and a knife under his pillow to protect himself from the squatters.
Mike heard about my open-air preaching at the University of Minnesota. He liked my approach and started joining me in preaching at the U during my annual visits. Mike would always call a special meeting of his friends to hear me and he would gather a large offering for my mission. One of his, as well as his wife Jan’s, greatest gifts was hospitality. Mike was a promoter, who knew how to draw crowds principally through prayer and the preparation of plenty of good food.
It did not take long for Mike to make a comeback from his low point through real estate deals and buying and selling cars. However, he gained his most tangible wealth when he met Jan, whom he married in 1988; Mike’s vision and Jan’s level headedness made a strong combination. Within a short time both his son, Garrison, and nephew, Scott, came to live with them. Other treasures were soon added as with the arrival of Grant in 1992, Whitney in '94, Wesley in '96, and Luke in '98--all of whom Mike trained to be warriors to advance the cause of Christ.
Mike was man mighty in the Word of God. Mike got saved at age 12 after reading the whole Bible. When he got to Revelation, he humbled himself and repented.
He always sought to be led of the spirit in every aspect of his life including his business. He and Jan regularly held prayer meetings in their home. His home was always open to anyone in need of ministry. When Mike purchased a house, his first project was to set aside a prophet’s room for travelling ministers. Many times over the decades I enjoyed the Leisners’ hospitality.
Like Paul, Mike was in fastings often (2 Cor 11:27). Actually, Mike fasted more than any man I have ever known. He went through a number of 40 day fasts; he tried to do one annually starting at each New Year. His reaction to any crisis was fasting and prayer. He and Jan together fasted for forty day at the beginning of this year.
If one had prayer needs, it was generally understood, Mike was the man to call. Kathy Fisher is a lady that I introduced to Mike several years ago; she wrote me after Mike’s passing and said, “I remember when my son was in the Intensive Care Unit at Regions Hospital literally at death's door. I KNEW I could call Mike Leisner and he would pray and God would hear his prayer. God heard - I will never forget Mike Leisner.”
I am convinced that more than any other factor it was her husband’s prayers that brought Jan through her late health crisis.
After Mike prayed for anyone, he insisted, “Now you pray for me.” And he met right then, not later.
He had a hearty laugh for Mike could see humor in almost any situation. When Mike was in high school, he wanted to be popular so he studied humor through compiling books on the subject. By the time I came to know him, he was no longer studying humor; he himself was a study in the art of comedy. He could make the soberest of men experience a good laugh for he truly understood that laughter is the best medicine. And he had no objections to laughing at himself.
Yet Mike was very serious about spreading the gospel. When proclaiming the good news, Mike was clever, creative and unconventional. He wrote the most unique and provocative tracts. In the eighties he had his own radio show, The Consuming Fire Broadcast, covering the greater Twin Cities area.
Mike got his start showing films for the Billy Graham association. But with Mike’s creative mind, he would soon develop his own style of evangelism. He put together teams to preach at bus stops on Hennepin Avenue.
Mike hated sin. And would not accept any excuses for sin. He was a preacher of righteous. There were two things Mike could not abide, smokers and wine bibbers, especially if they were professing Christians. He was an activist in the anti-abortion movement and toured for a time with one of the leading anti-abortionists of the late 70’s. On many occasions he confronted and strongly opposed the pornographic industry.
Mike was in many ways a controversial figure. If I were to write a biography of him, I would call it The Escapades of Michael Leisner. Merriam Webster defines “escapade” as “an usually adventurous action that runs counter to approved or conventional conduct.” Mike did not seek men’s approval, but God’s will. He was not predictable in his actions whether in business, church, evangelism or even family life. He was always faithful.
Life around Mike was an adventure, which is why so many were attracted to him and perhaps some men feared him and could not abide in his presence. It was always a wild ride running with Mike. Even a train or a plane ride was an exciting journey with Mike. I should know; we rode trains together evangelizing England and my family flew with him and his family to Rome, to Athens and back--all at Mike’s expense. Mike preached through conversing with me and he usually succeeded in drawing others into his conversational web.
Mike was a man of two books, a well-worn Bible and a well-worn dictionary. Mike knew the importance of words; the right word at the right time had the power to transform a life. He was quite the wordsmith and master of the pun.
Mike was always active in a local church. Mike liked mega churches. He was a people person; the more people the greater the opportunities for ministry and to network with other believers. Mike wished to stay in background in his church life. He preferred to serve the church as a prayer intercessor.
For years the Leisner family attended Crystal East Free Church; typically Mike arrived early Sunday morning before any of the pastors or deacons and spent the morning in intercessory prayer. The church had more than one service; he would attend one with the family and pray through the other services. He constantly tried to get men to join him in the prayer chapel.
He was always welcome in the prayer closet but he was rarely invited to speak from a church pulpit. No problem for Mike, for he found his pulpits outside of the church. Mike usually had the respect of church leadership, especially as he stayed in the prayer closet.
Mike had too much reverence for the office of the pastor to make waves or cause problems in a church. But only God and the devil know the waves he made in the spiritual realm through intercession. Mike once gave a sermon at a Bible conference entitled, “Are You Known in Hell?” He understood that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”—Eph 6:12.
Like Jacob of old, Mike wrestled with God, not against God. Wrestling with God is the highest form of prayer. He wrestled until God must have said, “Mike, the match is over; you have finally prevailed!”
Since Mike would never let go of God, God took this prince away from us to be into the His permanent presence. Now he has joined the great heavenly crowd of witness which surrounds the faithful. He has heard the words we all hope to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”—Matt 25:33.
What was the cause of his death? I do not know what the medical profession would say, but I believe the spirit of prophesy would answer, “The zeal for my Father’s house hath eaten me up.”—John 2:17.