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Faith and Values: Pastor takes ministry to troops

THE DAILY LEADER / RACHEL EIDE / Bro. Mike Dykes is shown with the two volumes of his book, "Soldiers' Angel on Watch," detailing the true stories of his ministry to members of the U.S. armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

THE DAILY LEADER / RACHEL EIDE / Bro. Mike Dykes is shown with the two volumes of his book, “Soldiers’ Angel on Watch,” detailing the true stories of his ministry to members of the U.S. armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veteran pastor Mike Dykes says “the greatest highlight of my 43 years of ministry” is serving the U.S. armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Concerns about the high suicide rate among the troops overseas led the Tylertown native to leave his pastor’s position at Powell’s Grove Pentecostal Church in Jayess in June 2007 and take up the call.

“I couldn’t get it out of my heart and mind, so I resigned my church,” he said during a recent visit to Brookhaven to share the stories in his two-volume book set titled, “Soldiers’ Angel on Watch: Memories and Travels of a Country Parson into War Zones.”

Dykes, who has also pastored in New Hebron, Taylorsville, Collins, Philadelphia and Mount Pisgah over the years, took a position with a minister friend of his, the Rev. William Tullos, who managed a fitness center and recreation center through the Morale, Wellness and Recreation program, which serves servicepersons in combat environments.

At the MWR in Iraq, Dykes began a men’s Bible study group for the troops. “A light heart attack” sent him home to Tylertown for a short while, but before long he was ready to resume his overseas ministry, going this time to Afghanistan.

Bro. Mike said his family has been supportive. “My little wife stayed by herself two years and three months,” he said.

Over the time ministering with the troops, Bro. Mike also began writing memoirs of his experiences on a Facebook page. “I did not set out to write books, I set out to encourage people on Facebook,” he said. Unbeknownst to Bro. Mike though, the Facebook posts were being collected by a retired teacher in Lucedale.

The teacher compiled the memoirs into a 540-page manuscript and sent it to Bro. Mike, saying, “Pastor, you need to get these books published.”

The two-volumes set of “Soldiers’ Angel on Watch” was published in 2013. Those interested in obtaining copies or learning more about Bro. Mike’s ministry can go to the Soldier’s Angel on Watch Facebook page.