Part 3: I Need Help

This is Part 1 of The Marin Foundation’s Back Story:

You can read for free the Introduction to my book, Love is an Orientation, if you click on the About tab at the top of the page. This Intro gives you the ‘public’ story of how I came about The Marin Foundation. But what I don’t communicate is the back story. Here you go:

I played Division I baseball in college (I was a catcher). This is important because on May 1, 2001 I was hit in the head with a ball from close proximity. I blacked out, suffered a Level 4 concussion (my 5th one), and was in and out of the hospital for the next seven months having to go every single day to brain rehab for two to three hours per daily session.

I had suffered an extreme amount of brain damage: There was no brain activity in my left frontal lobe. I lost all of my short term memory, word retrieval skills, speech fluency and my body’s equilibrium did not function properly because the left frontal lobe controls the right side of your body.

What all of these cognitive injuries left me with was the brain capacity of a 9 year old at 20 years old. I’ll never forget the day the doctors ended up telling me I would probably have to live with my parents because I was most likely going to be a kid trapped in an adult’s body for the rest of my life. I had so much brain damage they didn’t think I had a very good likelihood of ever making a significant recovery.

I’ll save you a lot of the details here, well, let’s be honest, I’ll save myself from telling you a lot of the details because it’s so darn hard for me to talk about, but it took me a good three years to feel what many would consider fully recovered. You want to know the crazy part in how the Lord has worked a miracle:

To this day I still have no brain activity in my left frontal lobe. Brain rehab helps produce more firing brain synapses, and that’s how people heal. Since I still don’t have any brain activity in my left frontal lobe, the doctors are puzzled as to why I’ve been able to make this recovery—science can’t explain it. But God can!

I do still have some residual effects—I have no (and when I say no, I literally mean ‘no’) short term memory, I have an almost constant headache, I get disoriented very easily and the right side of my body still lapses every once in a while. But in all honesty, if you didn’t know me before my accident, you wouldn’t notice any difference. My Dad always says that I downplay the severity of my accident and the subsequent rehab I had to do, but it’s just emotionally easier for me to do so. Though one day, I promise I will write out my whole experience for you all.

Anyway, this is important because since I couldn’t play baseball anymore I had to do something else with my life. I was majoring in psychology, did some cool research as an undergrad, applied to two secular PhD programs in clinical psych, and was told by both of the universities I applied to that I “couldn’t do God research for your dissertation”. After all that had happened to me, I was not about to take God out of the research I was to do; so I moved on. And in case you’re wondering I couldn’t get a PhD in clinical psych at a Christian university, that’s why I went the secular route. Since that didn’t pan out, here comes The Marin Foundation…

I had a sneaking suspicion that churches probably wouldn’t donate to The Marin Foundation (which has proved to be an accurate estimation—I have a national organization and only four churches from across America donate to The Marin Foundation on a monthly basis—guess our incarnational missiology doesn’t count as heavily as other “ministries” who minister to populations that are safer, or cooler or more respectable to work with. I continue to pray this will change.). So I started working at a few high-end hotels in Chicago and the Lord really financially blessed me with an abundance of resources. I promised the Lord that I would take those resources given to me and I would save all of them. For two years I hardly spent any money, because I knew that whenever the Lord told me it was time to leave my well-paying job, I would do so and take everything I saved up and dump it into The Marin Foundation. That’s exactly what I did in February 2005 when I was riding the bus to work, praying and reading the Bible, and I felt the Lord say it’s time for me to start the Foundation full time. I walked in my boss’s office that morning and told her “I have to leave.”

They didn’t understand why I would leave such a well-paying job because “God told me to.” Them understanding is not the point.

If the Lord leads me in a certain direction, if I don’t do it, even for one day, than I’m going against His will! And I can’t live like that.

Over the next two years I used my “seed money” to run The Marin Foundation full steam from day number one. That seed money wasn’t enough to take care of me; just to run The Marin Foundation. Over those next two years I qualified for food stamps. It got so bad at one point that all I could afford was to eat 5 boxes of white rice over a 3 month span because I only had $2 in my personal checking account and $14 in The Marin Foundation account. But since that low moment, the Lord has provided just enough each month for The Marin Foundation and I to be able to survive. But as my (now) family and I continue to grow, I can no longer feel that it’s ok to eat white rice for months on end. It’s been difficult though – the only reason I don’t still qualify for food stamps is because I got married to a woman who actually has a job that pays her a salary. You will hear more about my “salary” later this week, but the most I have ever paid myself to date is $9,800 – still a few thousand below what is considered “poverty” level.

To be continued tomorrow…

If you would like to keep updated with the work and needs of The Marin Foundation, please email us at or send us your address if you prefer a hard-copy and we’ll add you to our bi-monthly mailing list.

Much love.

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  • Mrs T

    Your short term memory sounds good to me & I have some brown rice for you! [Yuck for white rice. It would give me real problems to put it nicely!]
    Seriously, I am sure there are other churches out there that would help. That makes me even more glad that the one I know about is helping! I’d be sad if they didn’t!
    If things get really bad, the Lakeview Pantry is near you. I volunteer there a little. They have great food, as some awesome places donate to them.
    Mrs “T” – one of your greatest fans!!

  • Andrew,

    Man…I appreciate your transparency and your zeal for God’s purposes and his people. I am the Lead Pastor at Naperville Christian Church and I met you when you spoke nearly two years ago at Naperville Covenant Church which is right around the corner from my church.

    My church is currently one of the churches that would struggle with supporting your organization NOW, but I’m really working on changing that part of NCC’s culture. I’ve been there for 2 years now and GOOD changes are happening…but it is a real battle. I love what you are doing and will pray for you each day. I understand the poverty that you are speaking of and I turned down some other really good offers outside of traditional ministry, too.

    I’d love to grab some coffee with you and talk more about what you are doing. Let me know if that is possible…



  • Wow. Can there be any doubt that God has a plan for The Marin Foundation?

  • Person

    You may be poor on this Earth but in God’s economy, you are rich beyond measure! Keep standing strong during these hard times Andrew. My prayer now is that these hard times simply mark a transition to even greater things and wider influence.

    Heb. 12:7
    Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

    Your response now will be pivotal to determining the direction your ministry ends up going. God says that he who can be trusted with little can be trusted with much, and I believe that you are showing everyone that you are indeed trustworthy with little. We who have followed your ministry are being encouraged by your strength, resilience, and honesty during these times. I will continue standing alongside you in prayer. Things might look dark now, but that’s only because you’re going through a tunnel – it’s not the end for you yet! Much love Andrew.