Bio

Autobiographies seem so pretentious and presumptuous, don’t they? But it seems like the only way to have someone else write your biography is to be either famous or dead. I’m neither – thank God. So I guess that leaves me to help you understand me. Sigh – here goes.

I was born and raised in the home my father was raised just outside of a small town in southern Wisconsin called Edgerton, a thriving metropolis of 4254 (at least that’s what the sign outside town says.) I grew up outside of town surrounded by cornfields and cattle. There’s even an airport nearby – a long grass strip about two miles from home in a small village called Albion. I call it Albion International Airport.

While waiting for the school bus in the morning as kids, my three brothers, my sister and I used to throw crabapples at the cattle across the road for fun (sorry PETA…but I think the cattle actually liked the crabapples.) We invented our own fun in lots of other ways – usually along the lines of exploring, playing football and baseball until the sun went down, building forts with siblings, inventing weapons out of sticks and other available materials with siblings, using aforementioned weapons against rival siblings, and occasionally blowing things up (not siblings).

I had several other cousins in the area as well. There were actually 13 total in our high school over the course of 9 years. When I was in high school, I was related to one quarter of the baseball team. No joke. My high school football coach, legendary Jack Gregory, once said about my cousins, the Towns family, and we Bilhorns, “Bilhorns’ and Towns’…breed like rabbits.” I suppose that’s what happens when he coached probably 20-some of us total. I love where I grew up. It’s been over ten years since I lived there, and I still can’t walk through the grocery store without having a conversation with someone I know. We’re a little like Hobbits from the Shire – people enjoy simple things in life and move at a slower pace in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the city.

But I decided to go to college in a place that was the perceived antithesis of my upbringing – the south side of Chicago at Illinois Institute of Technology. Instead of going to sleep to the sound of crickets and cicadas, my slumber was sometimes interrupted with sounds of gunfire from the nearby public housing of the Robert Taylor Homes and Stateway Gardens. I thought they were fireworks the first night, until a more street-savvy fraternity brother informed me that was gunfire. Oops. What had I done?

But I grew to love my time at IIT, in part because I deeply reconnected with Jesus, growing my childish faith my own adult relationship with God, as well as and seeing friends do the same. The other part was that I deeply connected with others, developing some of the best friends a guy could ever ask for. Oh, and I got a great education at a great price thanks to a great scholarship program through the university. I didn’t just study architectural engineering; I lived in a historic landmark of a campus where simplicity became beauty, and the design grid of Mies was firmly planted upon my brain.

IIT was this funny place where all of us were self-identified geeks, and because we all were able to follow the first step in the 10-step program (admit we have a problem) we were able to recover…but maybe instead of recovering, we were discovering who we really were and how to live out of that. Ask any of my many friends in college, and we all feel that our college experience ranks high when we listen to the stories of others.

Upon graduation with my degree from IIT, I worked at a great company called Integrated Project Management. For three years, I lived the consultant-project manager life. I miss it sometimes, mainly because the people I worked with were top shelf driven folks who had the highest levels of integrity. There are certain people who, when you are around them, bring out the best in you. IPM was like that for me – a disciplined group of folks who pursued excellence and never settled for less than the best from themselves for their clients. I know it sounds like a commercial, but I still remember the processes clearly on how to get things going and make things happen.

Just before and during my time at IPM, I began to volunteer with Lawndale Community Church by tutoring high school students in the sciences, preparing them for college. Being a part of a Christian Community that was seeking the restoration of a very underserved neighborhood was a hugely transformative experience that shaped the way I view the church, God, and how the church is to engage the world.

It was here also where I got a bug to begin seeing what the church was able to do in other places outside of the states. In 2002, I took what I had learned in my education and in the marketplace and went to Uganda with Engineering Ministries International to Uganda where a team of us designed a six building vocational technical campus that would help provide real job training to help stimulate economic growth in the region. When the team arrived in England together, I was surprised to see that my role was switched from surveyor to architect…kind of scary, honestly, because most of my work didn’t involve this type of construction or design. But all went fine, and it was an amazing experience where we saw the beauty of the Ugandan people as they celebrated in the midst of very difficult circumstances.

But there came a time where a small voice in my head began thinking about other things besides designing and renovating facilities and developing capital spending plans. What about going back to the campus, and helping students follow in the same steps that I had? Helping others to learn how to love God, their family and friends, their studies, their work, their churches, their neighborhoods, the world and all of it’s brokenness and beauty, and ultimately integrate them together into something beautiful. It was a huge change, but something just felt right about it.

I joined staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in 2003 at Northwestern University, and serve our various ministries to nearly 300 students in various capacities throughout my time. I’ve traveled the world, and helped students see Jesus in the most unlikely of places, all the while growing deeper in my relationship with God in seeing his purposes for the whole world to be restored to it’s good intent.

Who knows what’s next?

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1 Response to “Bio”


  1. 1 claudialotz April 16, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Hi Andy–

    I googled Chesterton’s famous quote about “what’s wrong with the world” and wandered into your blog on the same. I was so staggered by the resonance of your writing that I applied for “blogship” rites to simply hit “like” where I saw none. It was an ordeal.

    And, now that I read your bio, (I am from IL and deeply identify with the wholesomeness you paint right down to the Hobbits) and note that it may have been some time since it’s publication, I am asking in reference to your close “Who knows what’s next?”: What’s been next? I’m sure it’s a story worth the telling…

    Claudia Jensen Lotz


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