The elements that bond
by Elisa (Rau) Bullock, class of 2015
NNU knows that there are many changes and challenges that students face daily. Questions about career paths, how to follow God’s call, and what classes will help achieve their goals all add to students’ growing pains; however, NNU also knows these growing pains ease when students have a strong community of belonging as a firm foundation.
Community does not happen overnight, and calling a group a community does not make it one. Developing community has to be intentional, and the intentional acts of professors, staff members and students transform the buildings of NNU into a community of belonging.
“It’s people like Dr. Anstine who make NNU a great university and keep it grounded on the unchanging Word of God.”Leaving a lucrative career in pharmaceuticals to teach at NNU, Dr. Tim Anstine, professor of chemistry, was following a clear call he felt on his life to “feed hungry sheep.” He teaches students about organic molecules, but his lessons go much deeper. His calling pushes him to be intentional about relationships with students, impacting students more deeply than just helping them understand textbook material. He is passionate about chemistry, but even more passionate about Jesus.
“Tim’s love for Christ and passion for the Word created a stirring in my life that ultimately led me to a deeper relationship with Christ,” Shawn Haverfield (’07) shared. “I was headed down a path of uncertainty in my faith, and without Tim to help steer me toward a real relationship with Christ, I know I would have been lost. It’s people like Dr. Anstine who make NNU a great university and keep it grounded on the unchanging Word of God.”
Anstine appreciates the creative and beautiful design of an organic molecule the way others enjoy watching a dramatic sunset. Science and faith are often two subjects that seem to be at odds, but Dr. Anstine teaches students how the truth of Jesus Christ allows science to make sense. He says, “A true university is an attempt to bring unity out of diversity. At NNU we can talk about truth because we can integrate science and faith. It is through Jesus that we can invite students into this unifying reality and become a true university.” Colossians 1:17 says “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (NIV) As Dr. Anstine elaborates, “The laws of chemistry only make sense in the light of the person of Jesus. They cannot be separated.”
As a professor who not only teaches but also invests in the lives of students, Dr. Anstine has a unique perspective to see the gifts in others and the privilege to speak into their lives. Dorothy Ackerman (’13) intended to major in education when she took a chemistry class from Dr. Anstine as one of her science electives. She excelled. Dr. Anstine reflects, “She saw chemistry in the world in a special and unique way.”
The more she learned, the more she wrestled with her educational plans: “I sensed God was trying to redirect me to be all in on this chemistry business, but it honestly scared me to change my life plans. My bargain with God went something like this, ‘If you have Dr. Anstine say something to me about switching to chemistry, that will be my sign.’” Sure enough, Dr. Anstine approached Dorothy about her gift for chemistry, and she switched her major that day. Dorothy reflects: “Dr. Anstine is sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and never presses you to make a decision; instead, he knows how to let you come to the decision you need to make by showing you and encouraging you how to seek the Lord. He believed in me probably more than I believed in myself. He pushed me to dig deep and learn with passion.”
Over the next few years, Dorothy was able to continue learning from Dr. Anstine, and, although he filled her mind with elements and bonds, he also filled her heart with a desire for more of the Lord. “He taught me that it is okay to have questions about my faith and that it’s important to ask those questions and seek answers.” Dorothy is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Vanderbilt University.
With sincere and caring hearts, professors like Dr. Anstine allow students to wrestle with their dreams and God’s call on their life to help them reach their full potential. These professors who invest in the whole person are just one of the elements that bond us together to create a community of belonging at NNU.