EDMOND — Mike Armstrong thinks back to a year ago and remembers the whirlwind of change all around him.
Armstrong, 39, then a meteorologist for KWTV-9, recalls helping to forecast the tornadoes that ultimately battered several Oklahoma communities in May 2013.
At the same time, his mentor and friend, longtime KWTV-9 meteorologist Gary England, was preparing to retire. And Armstrong was helping with tornado disaster relief efforts with Samaritan’s Purse, an international humanitarian relief agency founded by evangelist Franklin Graham.
But the biggest change of all was to come several months after the storms.
Armstrong departed KWTV-9 not long after England retired in August. Armstrong accepted a position as a ministry leader at Henderson Hills Baptist Church, 1200 E Interstate 35 Frontage Road.
These days, he still looks to the heavens for answers — just in a different way.
Chasing a career
Armstrong has been Henderson Hills’ director of new membership since September. He and his wife, Kristen, and their four children have attended the church for six years. Before that, the family worshipped at Northwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
He said the move from broadcast journalism to ministry wasn’t as huge a leap as some might think.
Faith has guided the Ponca City native’s life even as he dreamed of chasing storms.
“Before all of this happened, people asked me if I was ever going to be a preacher. I just laughed. I just didn’t see it as an option. It just wasn’t on my radar,” he said, laughing at his pun.
Armstrong said he originally planned to be a professional trumpet player, and music was what he studied at the University of Arkansas.
However, out of his “three M’s,” as he calls them — music, meteorology and ministry — meteorology won out. He said his passion dimmed for his trumpet playing just as his avid interest in meteorology increased. Armstrong said he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma.
He was thrilled when England asked if he wanted to became a storm tracker for KWTV-9 in April 1999. Armstrong said he was out working in that capacity when the deadly tornado outbreak of May 3, 1999, occurred. He said England was great to work with and always gave invaluable advice to the storm trackers keeping pace with the tornadoes.
“Gary would always tell us there’s no video worth dying over,” he recalled.
Armstrong said he began working as a broadcast meteorologist for KWTV-9’s weekend morning show in 2001.