Recently we caught up with Mike Roux and asked him about his passion for the outdoors and for serving Jesus. Where did it all begin? What is God doing now? We hope you enjoy his amazing story as much as we did. Mike shared his story with Jon on a recent trip to one of Mike’s many “top secret” fishing holes.
How did your passion for the outdoors begin?
I was extremely fortunate. Both of my grandfathers had a true passion for the outdoors. When I was young Dad was trying to build a family and get things going so my outdoor activities were limited. Fortunately, both of my Grandpas were retired. They took me fishing, taught me, and nurtured my passion from the time I was 5 years old. I shot my first squirrel and rabbit with my Grandpa Guy and later inherited his shotgun. Grandpa Guy trained beagles, so I had beagle puppy before I had a bicycle. I killed my first turkey and deer with my uncle Buster and Dad.
Where did your love for Jesus begin?
Church for me was like hunting and fishing. I cannot recall a time it was not a part of my life. Dad was the Sunday school director. There was never a Saturday night conversation about whether we would go to church or not. Church was always just there.
The summer after I turned 8 years old, Dad was working. Mom came outside and said, “I'm taking your sister to the store, we will be right back.” When I looked up our preacher, Owen Sherril, was coming around the side of the house. We sat on front porch and talked. That was the moment I gave my heart to Jesus and was I baptized the next Sunday morning in front of the church.
So obviously I grew up in the church. My childhood was as good as Beaver Cleaver's. It was perfect. I cannot think of anything about my childhood, other than losing my first grandmother, that was negative. Through high school I was very active in my church and faith. My head football coach was also my Sunday school teacher. I got to see both sides of that man. I got to see him produce a winning football team but also mold young men in their faith. Only later did I realize how he molded young men in both the Sunday school and the locker room.
Did you ever struggle or drift away from God?
I lived at home for the first two years of college. It was like an extension of high school. But after I graduated from junior college, I was accepted into the Radiology Program at Washington University, in St. Louis. For the first time ever, there was no one getting me up Sundays, driving me to church, asking me to participate. I'm not going to say I walked away from God, but I walked away from Church. I thought I still had great relationship with God. My prayer life was as great as ever. I just never sought out a church in the city. It was a Catholic area. I didn't feel at home. Nobody was pushing me. I would attend church on weekends when I visited home.
Mom passed away when I was in college. Mom was 44 when she was diagnosed with cancer. She found out in September and died in March the following year. That affected me, but not nearly as bad as it affected Dad. Dad walked away from church, away from life, and away from God. Dad would go to his lounge chair and just sit until bed time. He fell into a shell of depression for almost two years. In those two years my sister also struggled. I had to be big brother, mom, dad, and everyone to my little sister. Dad came out of his shell when he met my step mother, Sue. They dated for almost two years and then got married. She was a non-practicing Catholic, and he was non-practicing Baptist.
When did things really change for you?
I got out of school. I graduated from Nuclear Medicine School and took over the radiology department in Farmington, MO. I move back home. By then, my sister had a couple of kids, Dad and Sue had bought a house, and things were pretty good. I met a gal at work, dated a long time, got married, and we bought house. I had my first child, my daughter Katelyn.
There was a branch of Bass Pro in Farmington that was going out of business and had an auction. So I went to the auction. I'm standing there hoping for a deal like everyone else. Someone tapped me on the shoulder, and called me by name. His face seemed familiar as he asked, "Do you remember me? I'm Roger Lewis.” Roger and I used to go to church together." He was 10 years my senior. He said, “Someone told me you were back in town, so I have a question. I've just started duck hunting and have lab puppy. I keep hearing your name every time someone mentions duck hunting. I thought we could get together and you show me some pointers, and help me with this puppy.”
From that moment, in the Bass Pro parking lot, God gave me the brother I never had. The term best friend doesn't even come close to the relationship Roger and I have built over the last three decades. He's my prayer partner. We know everything there is to know about each other. Roger was a deacon in the church I grew up in. And so every week he kept asking me, "What will it take for you to come back to church?"
I told him, “I'm passionate about outdoors, and I love Christ. But because of my passion I work five days a week so I can be off two days, and have a bow, rod, or gun in my hand. You are asking me to give up half of that! I'm doing good. I'm spending as much time in prayer as you are on Sunday morning but I’m just not sitting in the pew.” But Roger was persistent. He said, "I love you, and I'll never pressure you, but I'm going to keep asking."
So it got to the point that I was making up my excuse for Sunday ahead of time knowing the question was going to come. I said things like, “I can't come because… I have to rake the gravel in my driveway.” But after a couple of years I ran out of excuses. I agreed to go one time just to shut him up. I wanted to get him off my back and take the high road. I wanted to be able to say, “Roger, thanks for the invite, but I really didn't care for it.."
When I returned to church, Roger and his wife Jeannie was elated to see me. My mindset was this is a one-time deal just to satisfy them. But beginning on that Sunday I haven't missed a half-dozen Sundays a year for last 30 years.
What would you say to men who aren’t actively attending a Church or serving Christ?
There are two major decisions you make in your life. Not one, but two. The first is to give your heart to Christ. The second major decision you make in life is to act like you made the first one. For some that is immediate. It didn't happen that way for me. I got baptized at eight, but it took me until I was 25 to start living for Christ. That is when I became active in the church.
Once Roger looked me in the eye, put his hands on my arms, and said, "Mike, I want you to listen to what I'm going to tell you. I understand that you love the outdoors, and thrive in the outdoors. You are a Godly man but God wants you in his service. And here is what I'll promise you: if you serve God He will bless you in your outdoor stuff greater than you could ever imagine.”
I was rude enough to giggle at his promise. But he said, “Mike if you work for Him, He will bless you!”
That's not why I went back to church and rededicated my life. But when I made worship a priority, Roger's words could have never rung more true. Within two years my outdoor "career" began. It began with me getting on the Pro Hunting Staff with Lohman Game Calls. With that, I met all the professionals in the industry. They encouraged to write my own stuff. I got a few newspaper columns and wrote magazine articles.
Since then I have published thousands of newspaper articles, and hundreds of magazine articles. I've written two books, had my own TV show for seven years, had a syndicated radio show for nine years. God sent me to hunt in 15 states and Canada. He sent me fishing to Mexico, Great Britain, and put me in South Africa on a Safari. Roger could not have been more right about how God would bless me.
As I saw what was happening, God and I had a conversation. And God said, "Mike if you will find a way to use your outdoor talents to My glory, I will bless you beyond your comprehension. And that has happened. He helped me build an outdoor ministry that has been growing every year. And now I am on the brink of taking this ministry to an even greater level.
Why does is matter whether Joe Schmow fisherman Loves Jesus?
Forget about the fishing. I care about Joe Schmow. God has given me a way to build relationships with people passionate for the outdoors. If I can build that relationship it gives me an opportunity to help them build that greater relationship with Christ with the relationship of outdoors forming a foundation of trust.
I don't want to get overly scriptural, I don't have doctorate in theology or anything. I believe the Bible to be divinely inspired word of God, I take every word, sentence, and phrase literal. And when Jesus says, “I am the way, truth and life and no one goes to father except through me,” I know I have that ticket. Jesus has commissioned me to get as many on that ticket as possible. I don't have the power to punch that ticket, but He has given me the opportunity to share Jesus that He might punch their ticket and give them the hope of eternal life.
There are a few things in life that are profound enough to be called miracles. When I saw my children being born, it was an absolute miracle. When I see someone give their heart to Jesus, it is an absolute miracle. Think of it. God has the power and willingness to take the sin of a lifetime and throw it away and give that person His grace to be with Him in heaven. And when this happens, when I'm there and when I've been part of that experience with someone else, when the Holy Spirit grabs that person, God grabs me too. I feel that feeling of salvation whenever God gives me absolute honor of praying that prayer with someone.
Did your Dad ever find his way back to Church after your mom died?
I cannot tell you why but I got a phone call and Dad said, "Mike, Sue and I have made a decision and you are the first to know. We are going back to church. There is a little church with an elderly preacher. He came by and met with us. I told him I'd go, and I’m going . Please pray for us. We are going to be sitting in church Sunday morning." Just like the decision I made at 25, Dad made at 57. From that Sunday morning he too hasn't missed a half-dozen times a year and he is 83 now! Dad is now back in the church where we grew up in Flat River, has a small group in his house, and worships there with my sister. My sister now has three kids, and a herd of grandkids, and is very active in church. She and her husband Jim are youth group leaders.
When did you start attending Lakeside Christian Church?
Nancy and I had been married 18 years. She was Catholic; I was Baptist. And when we moved to Springfield we agreed to cast off denominational labels and find a place to worship together. We visited many churches, some many times, and every time we walked out of a church I let her talk first. She was never satisfied. The first time we visited Lakeside and we walked out, we didn't even get to the car she said, "Mike, that was different. The people there, the preacher, the sermon it was all different and we definitely have to come back here again." And every time we didn't have a set plan we went back to Lakeside. Then we stopped discussing it, and we were just there. Nancy met with Pastor Jon and they talked about baptism, and she decided to be baptized. I got on my knees in praise. That was not what I expected. I had the ultimate honor of baptizing my wife at Lakeside.