As of Tuesday, December 6, 2016
WHITE BIRD Though Mike and Debbie Andrews were literally headed to the other side of the United States in August, God had other plans for the couple.
Mike is the new pastor at Pleasant View Baptist Church in White Bird, replacing Charlie Stefani who recently retired.
Mike was born in North Carolina and at the age of 4 moved around a bit before settling in Virginia. He met his wife, Debbie, in high school, and they married as teens. At the age of 18 he joined the Army and served two separate tours for a total of 10 years, nine months and one day in the service.
“In between those 10 years I was out for four and I met the Lord and became saved,” he said. “I felt the call to be in the ministry, but ended up back in the military for a while.”
A rock-climbing fall ended his Army career but allowed him to attend Emery and Henry College in Virginia where he majored in religion. He pastored during college and the Andrews took their first official pastorate in Chilhowie, Va. They served several churches there for many years and then took a pastorate in Colstrip, Mont., close to their daughter.
The couple had been in Colstrip for 10 years and had made plans to retire and move to where their son lives.
“We were in Montana and ready to retire and move back to Virginia when I talked to Charlie,” Mike said. Their churches are both part of the Whispering Pines Baptist Association.
During the summer, the Andrews were on a vacation and had pulled their camper to Swiftwater RV Park and called Stefani to see if they might attend services there
“He said, ‘Let me call you back,’” Mike said. A little bit later, he did call back. “He said, ‘You’re preaching Sunday and you can interview after church.’”
Mike laughed at the quick-pace of how things turned out.
“I wasn’t prepared and to be honest, Debbie wasn’t sure about it at all,” he said.
“I had been isolated in a small town for a number of years and I wasn’t sure I could do it,” Debbie said. “But after sitting in the church I leaned over and said to Mike, ‘I think I could come here.’ It wasn’t a Debbie thing, it was definitely a God thing.”
The Stefanis moved out one day in August and the Andrews moved in the next.
“The church never went without a pastor for even one Sunday,” Mike smiled. “Now that’s unusual.”
He said the people in the church have been “wonderful.”
“It’s a small congregation, about 22, and they’re good people,” he said. “And the people in this community have also been very welcoming.”
“We really love it here,” Debbie said.
While Mike pastors the congregation, Debbie is musically gifted and helps provide music through bells and other avenues.
He enjoys fishing and they like to camp. She also crochets and quilts. Along with their two children, they have 10 grandchildren.
“We are so glad to be here in this community and this church,” Mike said. “Being a pastor really is my identity, it’s what I love to do.”
The church is located at 110 Everest (directly off Main Street). Call 839-2220.