A native of Tacoma, Mike Doidge grew up in an Irish Catholic family. While attending a Catholic Junior High School, he began a personal process of soul searching, seeking answers about God. Having been given a Bible by someone at his school, he started reading. It was an eye-opening experience for him; one that he found raised a lot of questions, and launched him into a personal quest to find out “who is God?”
Mike enlisted in the Navy in the 1970’s, shipping out on an aircraft carrier to points around Vietnam and the South Pacific. While serving, he found himself drawn to, and heavily influenced by a fellow crewman in his division, who happened to be a Christian. Through the course of fellowship and study, Mike gave his life to Christ in 1975.
He would later return to Tacoma in the 1980’s, where he met his future wife Roxanne; while attending Life Center Church, in Tacoma together. The two were married, and soon set off to wander the world, with Mike returning to the Navy as a commissioned officer.
What was your experience as a Christian in the Navy?
Mike: As a typical sailor, you would go drink your pay, and things like that. I questioned that, because I didn’t see it as being right. But then, if you wouldn't run with the crowd, you’d get labeled… ‘You’re not really one of us.’ There was a lot of peer pressure. The thing is, forty-some years later, I’m very good friends with these guys still. And we all have a common respect for the guy who led a lot of us to the Lord. So we share a common salvation.
How did you deal with the challenges you faced?
Mike: As a Christian, I found new confidence. I had been insecure and more introverted; and then with the acceptance of Christ, came more of a freedom, confidence, and maturity; to step out and be bold, wherever I was at. It was like Christ would go with me, or his angels would go before me. I felt comfortable in whatever circumstance I was put in. And I knew I was a believer.
I was on a submarine, and I started leading a Bible study. I had the opportunity to be with other sailors, and be one who could be counted on. We could share our Christian faith easily in the service; and throughout my career, my faith was always there. It was kind of like part of our uniform. I remember having different sailors, get together in the morning to have a power moment, as we called it; a prayer for each other to start our day. And then we would be available to each other for counseling.
How did God change you during your Navy Career?
Mike: I think He strengthened me. We would go to places where we had no idea why we were there, but the thing is, that God put us there. I always felt that we were sent on assignments where God had a reason for us to be; and I found it exciting. It was cool to see how God worked in our lives wherever we were located.
How have you seen God working in your life now?
Mike: I see Him through our grandchildren. Basically as grandparents, we’re here to help. We’re the patriarchs. So we are encouraging our children, and our children’s children, to grow up in the Lord; and know the Lord. It’s one of our big duties now. Give them training in the way they should go, and give them encouragement, and unconditional love. Be like Jesus.
How does knowing God and experiencing His love and grace affect your interactions with others?
Mike: I’m more free to talk to people. We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ. I start with the perspective that we’re already like family. It also means that I’m not afraid to approach strangers. It’s those chance encounters, that I think God just might want us to touch someone; or get in prayer; or say, “can I help you?” Sometimes it can blow your mind, what God might do. I met this guy coming out of the post office and he seemed pretty upset. I stopped and talked to him for a moment. After he left, I thought, ‘maybe I need to talk more to him.’ We ran into each other again, at Costco; so we were able to continue the conversation. To me, God is doing that, because maybe He wants to see something planted in somebody. And I always thought I was just the dishwasher, like with Philip in Acts. He helped in Jerusalem, in the kitchens, and then suddenly he was sent out by God to meet the Ethiopian. I always thought of him as one of my heroes. You may think you’re just someone assigned to the dishwashing duties of the kitchen of Heaven. But He may have other plans for you too.
Mike officially retired from the Navy in 2005, working for a while with the Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma. He now enjoys being able to spend time with, and help out, his wife; and spending time with their twelve grandchildren. About his time in the Navy, Mike says “I just feel like the Lord was helping me, from that time, and I love where I’ve been. He’s always held us wherever we’ve gone. We’ve wandered the world...but we’ve found the same spirit in all these places.”