We asked Andy about his background, his family, his favorite books, and what he loves about teaching.
I was born in South Carolina but moved to Senegal when I was a year and a half old and lived there as a missionary kid through my junior year of high school. In addition to Senegal and Minnesota, I have lived in Iowa, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Kentucky, and Indiana and have spent a couple of months each in Egypt and Mali. I met my wife, Sara, in 2003, and we were married in 2005. Sara and I are richly blessed to have two daughters and a son. Our children often remind me of my need to have a deeper trust in God, both because I need His wisdom in parenting them and because—in seeing how unsettled they can become by minor issues even when Sara and I are present and able to deal with them—I am exhorted about my own tendency to lack faith in God in times of difficulty, even though He is an infinitely more trustworthy Father than I will ever be.
There are too many authors I love to name them all, but here are a few who have deeply affected me. I read St. Augustine’s City of God in graduate school and continue to be affected by the way he wrestles with the tension between the goodness of God and His creation and the presence of evil in that creation. These were ideas I was better prepared to understand because of the fantastic storytelling of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, stories I return to again and again for their beauty and for their deep theological reflection. Mark Noll’s Scandal of the Evangelical Mind challenged me to reconsider my own positions in light of scripture and the Christian testimony through time, for which I am grateful. I believe the testimonies of Christ followers who have gone before us are among the most powerful evidences of our Lord’s trustworthiness; in that category, Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place is probably at the top of my list for the way it shows how faith in Christ can thrive in the darkest circumstances and for the way her father demonstrated practical wisdom in addressing his children’s questions. And the list could go on and on.
I am thankful to work at Bethel University, where I am paid to read, learn and teach about subjects I enjoy while helping guide students toward becoming “whole and holy Christ followers.” Subjects I particularly enjoy teaching include African politics and humanities, but the best thing about my job is working with students. If I could write my own one-line evaluation, I would love for students to be able to say of me that “He cares deeply about us, about the material he teaches, and about helping us grow in faithfully following Christ.”