Hey everybody!

My name is Andrew. I was born and raised in Mendoza, Argentina, where my parents served as missionaries (and still are after 27 years). My beautiful wife, Ellan, and I live in Lincoln Park near DePaul, where she attends for her graduate studies in nursing.

I would say my primary vocation is being a husband. This has been a humbling and growing experience for the past few (almost 2!) years. Haha! The instructions for this say, “Tell a little of how you came upon that field,” which sounds funny when thinking about the vocation of being a husband. Anyway, we met in high school while my parents were on furlough. I had culture shock and needed someone to (a) explain why WalMart was open 24 hours, (b) allow me to complain about American fruit, new everything, and plastic everything, and (c) give me rides to school and church events. Ellan was eager for a new experience and had a car… plus she was gorgeous.

My second vocation is being a graduate student. I am attending WheatonCollege for my M.A. in Clinical Psychology. I first became interested in psychology in high school when we had to take a couple of psychology courses as part of the Social Sciences track I was in. For me, being a graduate student has involved an internship (24-26 hours a week), a Teaching Assistantship, research, and classes.

My internship is at Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago, which is part of LaSalleStreetChurch’s ministry. It is a full counseling psychology clinic that is dedicated to the city of Chicago. I see six individual clients and about 23 children in 5 counseling groups. The children are all urban/inner city kids at an after-school program or kids who attend private schools that are eligible for Title I services (for which I do academic counseling).

As a TA, I get to mentor 1st year students in my program through helping them process group therapy and psychodynamic psychology. Plus, I get to hang out with one of my favorite teachers in class and help teach it.

For research, I am currently involved in two projects. One is looking at bullying in the U.S. and Guatemala and comparing it. I will get to present a paper at a conference on this topic. The other is looking at children’s books on bullying to see if what they promote is actually an effective way to cope with bullying.

My classes currently take up the least time since I’m only taking one class. Whew! That feels like a lot.

So, why the field of psychology? From a theological perspective, I believe humans were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–28). Not everybody agrees on what that means, but I believe that an aspect of it is wholeness in health in addition to holiness. Adam and Eve were able to worship God and live for God… that is what all humans were created for. When sin was introduced into the world, it affected our ability to be holy and live wholly. St. Augustine proposed that humans have a threefold relationship and distinguished between ‘ordered’ and ‘disordered’ loves. When humans’ loves are ‘ordered’, they relate 1st to God, 2nd to their neighbors, 3rd to nature, and 4th to oneself (this last was introduced by another theologian after St. Augustine). After sin was introduced, these loves became ‘disordered’: humans’ relationship with self comes first, and they use God, their neighbors, and nature for self’s purposes. To regain the image of God is to be able to worship God fully and to relate to others, to nature, and self properly.

St. Augustine said, “Every good and true Christian should understand that wherever he may find truth it is the Lord’s.” So, what has been found to be ‘true’ scientifically belongs to God’s Truth. (Not to say that science is not biased.) In my therapy practice, I strive to use treatments that are based on science, that have been shown to improve pathology through research. I believe God works in non-believers through common grace, grace that allows non-believers to act and do ‘good’, which does not necessarily lead to salvation. By God’s common grace through counseling, people (non-believers included) can become less depressed, isolated, or obsessed with dying and move toward more order and wholeness. This would provide a greater opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel, the special love of God.

From a practical standpoint, I find psychology appealing because I feel like it is a mission field in and of itself. There are very few Christians in the secular field of psychology. That said, there is also animosity towards Christians in many departments of psychology. They are not non-Christian, they are anti-Christian. So my dream is to continue my education in a secular field and become an excellent psychologist who is a Christian. Another dream is to work with newer mission-sending countries (for example, Latin America, Nigeria, Korea) and provide mental health (or develop a mental health system) for these countries. A couple of struggles have been relating to my inner-city youth. I’ve encountered a lot of resistance in working with them, being a white male in the group. This has gotten better over time since we dissolved the group; working 1-on-1 has been much easier. Another struggle has been knowing when to say, ‘No’ to things. I feel like I’m a decent graduate student, but sometimes I need to work on my first vocation, being a husband.