Home of Wheaton Bible Church's Quarterly Magazine
By Dean Annen
I am the youngest of five kids, born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. My mother, who was our church organist, also gave music lessons. My father was a professional-athlete-turned-firefighter who coached many of my sport teams. Sports and grades were very important to me growing up. I was very involved in our church and felt great reverence for God but did not put Him first in my life. Instead, I focused on friends and sports, working hard at being a high-school three-sport varsity athlete, which dominated most of my time and gave me a temporary feeling of self worth.
But God was pursuing me. I had a sense that He loved me and a desire to be right with Him, so I continued to go to church all the way through college.
Right after college I married Kris (now my wife of twenty- six years). We moved to Glen Ellyn and soon began serving together as volunteer youth leaders at a local church. When our church hired a couple from Wheaton College as part-time youth directors, they had an impact on both Kris and me. They were strong, committed Christ followers, and one day they gave me a copy of The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook. As I read the section on salvation—then went to the Bible and read the Scripture references from the book—I realized that I had never heard God’s salvation message before that day. How could I have gone to church all my life but never heard this before? I wondered.
In the coming days, I read the Bible and prayed, asking God if this Gospel message that I was understanding for the first time was truly what it takes to make a person right with Him. One night, God made it clear to me that apart from the Gospel, I would be leading my family toward destruction. That same night I came to faith in Jesus Christ. I woke Kris—who was then pregnant with our first child—and shared the Gospel with her, and she also came to faith in Christ.
When I first put my faith in Christ, it seemed as if I wanted to know everything God had to say in the Bible, and I studied it as much as I could.
About six years later, in 2000, God led us to Wheaton Bible Church, where I have been fed and have grown in my faith—especially as we have found places to serve within the church. But it has been through trials—difficult times when I have had to rely fully on God—that He has grown me and taken me to a new place of humility so He could change me and bring me and my family to a deeper trust in Him.
Q & A
How long have you been a member of Wheaton Bible Church?
n 2000, my wife, Kris, and I were looking for a church home where the truth of the Bible was taught—without apology. But we also wanted a church that would teach the truth in love. For us, that church was Wheaton Bible Church. Kris and I had already been participating in men’s and women’s Bible studies here, and our children were in the weekday preschool program. We became members that same year.
Describe a memorable experience you’ve had since you came to Wheaton Bible Church.
There are many, but one would be the day when Kris and I were baptized in front of the congregation. A few years after we became believers, we realized that the Bible teaches us to be baptized as a proclamation of our coming to faith in Christ. We had both been in church our entire lives, but neither of us could say that we had fully put our faith in Christ when we were young, so having the opportunity to write our testimonies and then share them together with our new church family and friends from our neighborhood was a highlight I’ll never forget.
How has being part of Wheaton Bible Church impacted your life?
As we came to WBC, I told Kris, “There are still going to be problems at our new church, because there are people there—including us.” However, over and over again I have seen the staff, Elders, and other people of our church put Christ first and hold to the truth of God’s Word. People truly love one another here even (and especially) when they get to know one another.
Through my involvement in the church, God has taught me to trust Him in all things, big and small. I remember feeling inadequate to the task when a few of us started a new Saturday Bible study for men eight years ago. (It’s now known as the Saturday Men’s Bible Study.) I remember God saying to my heart, That’s okay; I am more than adequate.
WBC has also given us other special opportunities, like hosting a Neighborhood Bible Club for several years, which “brands” you in the neighborhood and beyond as someone who loves Jesus Christ. The neighbors never forget.
What are the most challenging—and most rewarding—parts of being an Elder?
Since I just started serving as an Elder earlier this year, I would say that the biggest challenge so far has been keeping up with all the ministry activities and issues facing our church.
The most rewarding part is easy: at the end of the day, with all the praying, and all the meetings, and all the side discussions, and all the reports, and all the problems, the most rewarding part is learning that one new soul has been added to the Kingdom because someone in our congregation or on our staff has touched another life with the powerful truth of the Gospel.
Do you have a favorite verse or verses from Scripture?
More than twenty years ago, even before I fully understood the Gospel, I was reading the Bible one evening when I came across James 1:22, which says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
To most this might not seem like an earth shattering verse, but to me, that night was the first time ever that my heart raced when I read a Scripture verse. God used that verse to get my attention, and I began to wonder, Am I deceiving myself? Could it be that I’m a hypocrite? That was the last thing on earth I wanted to be. That was one of the times I remember God saying, Wake up!”
Tell us a little about your work.
For the last twenty-six years I’ve been a telecom engineer, first at AT&T Bell Labs, then at Lucent, then Alcatel-Lucent, and most recently with HCL America, Inc. I’ve had many different jobs, but most recently my role has been in crisis management for mobility (cell) networks.
Describe your family.
Kris and I met at the University of Wisconsin Madison and were married in 1989. Kris is the Human Resources manager for Wheaton Bible Church. We have two children. Our son, Nate, attends Wheaton College and is majoring in mathematics and economics. Our daughter, Grace, will be attending Moody Bible Institute this fall.
If you could speak with each member of the congregation, what would you ask or say?
I would ask, “When was the last time you really shared with someone about the things that you’re going through in your life?” My experience is that most people—even those who seem to have it all together—really don’t, and the church can and should be the best place to begin those conversations. So find someone you can trust, and take that first step.