A higher-order help desk

Houston pastor Mike McIntyre puts his knack for problem-solving to good use, helping many people in need. He even finds time for computer repair.

Pastor Mike McIntyre smiles in front of his famously fruitful crab apple tree outside his home in Houston.

You might expect a pastor to give Sunday service, to bless a wedding or to someday lead a funeral.

But computer repair? Usually that takes a higher-order power.

That is, unless your pastor happens to be Mike McIntyre.

At his home last week, the long-time pastor of Houston Pentecostal Church held what looked like a computer cooling fan on his lap—and a butter knife to pry the thing open and fix it.

McIntyre has fixed computers for his church and his children’s schools since 1989. PCs had just dawned, and McIntyre had started serving his first church congregation in Mission, B.C.

When that church refused to take his advice and stick with a typewriter, he decided to knuckle down and learn to keep the new machine in shape.

That DIY spirit is something he has carried a long time.

When McIntyre went back and finished his Grade 12, his professor said he had “above-average problem solving ability.”

That knack for solving problems shows up in his sideline as volunteer tech support at Houston Christian School.

But it plays big in his day job, too.

Over his 16 years in Houston, the pastor has helped many people in crisis.

Dr. Peter Morry, who ran a clinic in Houston until last winter, gave a special thank-you to McIntyre for helping so many of his patients with counselling.

Lorna Szwaba said that Mike and his wife Marla McIntyre, who runs the Salvation Army in Houston, were some of the first people to help her get settled right when she moved to town.

One of the pastor’s strengths, said Swzaba, is that he keeps a sense of humour.

“You have to,” she said. “I think God does too.”

That is a bit of theology that McIntyre seems to agree with.

“God’s not up there waiting to hit you with a stick,” he said.

In spite of their TV stereotype, he added, preachers should not set to moralize and put down people who do wrong.

“There’s a lot of things about normal preacher types that I don’t like,” he said.

Before the Vancouver Olympics, some pastors in his church said the city should control where street people could go. But McIntyre disagreed.

The issue, he said, wasn’t how Vancouver looks in TV news coverage.  The issue was that these were people that someone needed to care for.

“There’s a whole world of people out there just waiting for a kind word from somebody,” he said.

If McIntyre can empathize, he said that’s largely because he gone through some hard times of his own.

The pastor didn’t step into a church until he was 30.

Back then, he had left his young family several times. After talking for hours outside on his brother-in-law’s driveway, McIntyre said that he wanted his wife back.

Without a word, his brother-in-law ran inside.

“Voom! He’s in the house. Voom! He’s out of the house with a Bible.”.

That’s when he found his faith, McIntyre said, adding that he still uses that Bible today.

“It’s been an absolute wonder ever since,” he added. “Not all good.”

McIntyre suffered from chronic fatigue for a long time. He also lost a son.

“I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, but there’s no way I would trade the man I am now for what I was before I went through that,” he said.

Today, McIntyre said he knows that very few problems have a simple answer.

He didn’t always feel that way. Fresh out of bible college, he and other young ministers felt they had big answers for big problems.

“Back then we knew everything,” he said. “Everything was black and white. Now, if I get one black and white thing a year, I’m delirious.”

A phone call interrupted McIntyre before he could finish telling his own story. He excused himself and took the call in private—it was about someone he’s been trying to help out.

“It’s sucking a lot of my time and I’m loving it,” he said. “It’s really rewarding to help somebody. That’s been in my DNA my whole life.”