Mike MacIntosh found God when visiting death row.
5331 Mount Alifan Drive, San Diego
Pastor: Mike MacIntosh
Born: Portland, OR
Formation: Azusa Pacific University, Azusa; Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena
Years Ordained: 42
San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Mike MacIntosh: The love of God. I found his love and didn’t deserve it, that’s for sure. It seems to be something many don’t know about — they think he’s an angry or uptight God because they see angry or uptight Christians. I think sometimes we Christians misrepresent him in how we present ourselves.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PM: It was a calling, actually…. In the 1960s I started drinking and getting high at parties a lot and then I got married. My life just went downhill from the drinking and drugs and my wife took the kids and divorced me. I was at the end of my rope. I heard the Jesus Movement had been going on around Newport Beach around that time, and heard that the music was good. I went and heard the Gospel message. I said, If there is a God out there, well, I’m tired of being messed up all the time and if you can help me, I’ll give you my life. Instantly, from that moment on, I felt there was a relationship the more I started reading the Bible and going to church and talking to people about the Bible and God…. My wife saw the change in my life and she also gave her heart to the Lord. So, we got remarried after three years of divorce. We now have 6 kids, 19 grandkids and 3 great grandkids. So, had I gone on my own way instead of the Lord’s, I would have destroyed all that.
SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?
PM: I remember three men in one death-row area that [prison officials] wanted me to talk to. One of them was a Satan worshiper, in cell one, and in cell three was this sweet Mississippi black man in his 70s. He had murdered someone and couldn’t read. The Satanist didn’t want to talk — he was angry and didn’t need anything or anyone or any prayer or encouragement. He had murdered the parents of this young man in the last cell, about eight cells down. He was only about 18 years old but he hired this weirdo to kill his mom and dad so he could get the insurance money…. This young man asked me whether I thought God would ever forgive him. So we wound up after an hour or so praying together and talking. It amazed me that there were those three personalities together, so distinct from each other, and God was there with them, too.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PM: Jesus conquered death and got the keys away from death so that people don’t have to go to hell. It’s wide open for people to go to heaven now…. There is a heaven and a hell. There’s only one thing you have to do to go to hell, deny God’s love. You don’t want to be with God if you deny him, because being in heaven would be hell in that case. So being a loving God and righteous God, he gives us the freedom to choose. I don’t think God sends people to hell. All the way through people’s lives, God goes to people and gives them opportunities to accept him.