Andy Reyes knew he wanted to go into ministry at an early age.

“I was raised in a church-going family,” he said.

“I became a Christian at 12. Soon after that, I thought that being a minister would be the most natural progression for my life.”

Going into ministry in my heart-of-hearts was always where I was going to wind up. Don’t know how, or where I’ll wind up, but… In my heart of hearts, I knew. Even my friends would tell me I was going to become a minister.

That thought is now a reality as Reyes is the new pastor at First Baptist Church.

Reyes was raised in Ohio. He went to Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny.

“It was really there where I decided this is what I’m doing for the rest of my life,” he said.

He spent eight years in Ankeny, attending college and then attending Faith Baptist Church in Cambridge. Those years, Reyes said, helped him mature and helped him shape his vision for his future ministry.

He also met his future wife, Mandie, at that church. They were later married at Faith Baptist Church in Cambridge.

Reyes graduated college in 2011 and then moved back to Ohio. He connected with pastor in Pennsylvania and then became his assistant pastor for nine months.

It was there where he made the decision to go to seminary.

“I didn’t believe I was ready,” Reyes said of serving as a full-time pastor. “I really believed prior to seminary, that pastors needed to go to seminary.”

He said the decision proved to be the right one. The pastor at the Pennsylvania church said his father helped found the Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. The seminary is a sister school to Faith Baptist Bible College. The seminary also happened to be two hours from where Reyes grew up.

“I went there and immediately all the doors opened up,” he said.

A ministry opportunity then popped up in Kansas City, Missouri, toward the end of Reyes’ time at the seminary. That opportunity ended up not working out after serving there for two years.

“Our time in Kansas City was very formative because it put us in circumstances that we had never faced before,” Reyes said of himself and his wife. “We were able to examine ourselves and our own lives in preparation for ministry.”

Another opportunity came open in Idaho but Reyes said they wanted to stay in the Midwest. They waited and another opportunity came open at First Baptist Church in Perry. He received a call saying that the church was looking for a pastor.

Reyes came to Perry for four Sundays to candidate for the position. He was then offered the senior pastor position at First Baptist Church. Reyes came to Perry with his wife, Mandie, and two kids, Peter, 2, and Libertie, eight months.

“My job is to love people and preach the Word,” Reyes said.

He is looking forward to getting to know the community better. He would like to get involved with various organizations in town, like the Perry Chamber of Commerce or the Perry Public Library.

“I just want to get to know people. Get the church name out in the community,” Reyes said.

He is also looking forward to getting to know those within his congregation.

“I want to build first and foremost a church of real Christians. People who want to follow Jesus,” Reyes said.

That group, he said, is a group who really love each other as a family. Reyes would also like to see the church become a community center.

“I want our church to have a good reputation for loving people and loving one another,” Reyes said.