As a military child, I grew up moving around from place to place, constantly meeting new people, trying new foods, learning new cultures. I apologize in advance, and ask that you forgive the following cliché, for though it is overused, it is one of the truest things I can say: out of all the individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing, Andrew Baer was and is, hands down, one of the best. I knew of him as my friend’s big brother for a few years, but I really got to know him as the man of God he was in 2014, when he was my camp counselor.
If you met Andrew, even if you only talked to him for a moment or two, you’d be able to tell he was, (and again, I ask for your forgiveness, this time for the following pun) not your average Baer. There was this depth to him that you do not often see, especially in someone his age. I had the pleasure of talking to him for three out of the twelve miles we hiked. If I could go back and tell my little teenaged self to write down every word he said, I would. He was full of knowledge. And, he was full of stories – stories that I could hardly believe had truly happened – much less happened to him!rr5
Who was this young 20-something-year-old who had worked every job under the sun, and why was he in the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania with a bunch of high school campers when he’d been hiking Machu Picchu weeks before? Why was he investing in me? Why was he listening to my struggles, encouraging me in my hopes and dreams, and sharing his with me? Did he not know he had already accomplished more than I ever could? Why – because he was an imitator of Christ.
Andrew Baer was a learner, lover, and doer of the Word. He lived fully, loved intentionally, and did everything wholeheartedly. I often wish I had just five more minutes to talk to him, or a few more notes on things he shared with me, but then I remind myself that I have not said “goodbye,” to my brother in Christ, but rather a casual “see ya later.”
Received: March 29, 2017
For All I Can Do is Mourn from the Heart
As the tears have all dried up from
Mourning in your passing physically
For all that still remains are a trickle of tears from the heart
As I peruse the aisles in Barnes and Noble Bookstore
Books on History and War, I come across
All I can think of is you, bro
As I wish I could scream to my hearts content,
“Andrew! Why aren’t you near?”
Why can’t you say, “Mate, lets talk!”
Why? Oh! Why? did you leave so soon for heaven
Your absence is felt like a punch in the stomach
What would I do to hear your thoughts today
In the tumultuous of times like
And hear those words of reassurance..
For all I can do is mourn from the heart
For Heaven is where you reside
And I am sure you are playing with your beloved dog
With Christ cheering you on from the side
Tell me what is life like in Heaven?
For God has accepted you into His Kingdom
And has praised you for what you have done
While dealing with so much
You guided your flock
Your love of humanity was seen by your actions
For all I can do is mourn from the heart
And with each memory, the heart pangs
What would I do to see
As I sit with your family around your dinner table in your home
And hear Father Wooley say grace
From the corner of my eye see, in reverence, as my head is bowed down
See you make the sign of the cross, with a Amen
A testament of faith, a simple act
It was like yesterday, as I sat with your family in the patio table outside
And bowed my head in reverence with them
As Father Wooley said grace and prayed
For your well being…
I Felt the love from them towards me
Accepting a Hindu man into their home
To break bread with
Because we are all God’s children.
For all I can do is mourn from the heart
As I try to remember
Memories I had with you
1 ½ years is nothing,
It felt like eternity
And I feel guilt ridden
What more in memories can I share with your brother Eric
Who is eager to hear more stories of you
You were close to both of us
Your presence is felt in spirit
And not be near physically
For alI I can do is mourn from the heart
All I can say
Of the memories I have of you
Are stored in a vault within my heart
A vault that can be accessed by me
And when the day comes
When my true love is beside me and asks
On Valentines Day, “Raj, why are you so down”
I will respond to her
“Well you see, I had a brother.. whose name was Andrew who was borne on this day….”
For all I can do is mourn from the heart..
For you, Andrew, a brother who was so dear.
Received: January 30, 2017
My name is Andy Matelski, I am an intern at WSS now because of Andrew Baer. Andrew was always really real with me when he was my Winter Retreat High School teacher. He taught me that it was ok to be goofy and still be serious. He made a huge impact on my life and he is one of the main reasons I wanted to become a Christian, his authenticity really hit home with me and I wanted what he had which was Christ in his life. So through the years I ended up coming back to WSS and serving on Senior Staff as a Camp Caleb counselor and then an EXSEL intern. I wish I could talk to Andrew again so I can tell him about how much he did in my life even though he probably did not realize it. God bless,
Received: January 15, 2017
I met Andrew when we were sixteen at a leadership conference in Germany. We immediately bonded over our mutual love of Casablanca, music, and literature. Over the next ten years that bond grew; though we were separated by distance, we kept in touch by email, Facebook, phone calls, and – in recent years – by letters. Andrew became one of my closest friends, and in so many ways he knew and understood me better than my friends and family I saw every day. Andrew and I had both grown up in relatively sheltered, safe Christian households. The older we became, the more we saw of suffering and pain, that evil often seems to go unpunished and the innocent are helpless and abandoned. In college, Andrew and I both dealt with a sense of despair and disgust with the world and ourselves. He was the only person I could turn to who understood what I was feeling and did not treat me with kid gloves. In our own ways, we each came to reconcile this fallen world with the God of the Bible. At times, we were able to find hope; other times, we simply had to let go of the bitterness and injustice, and give it over to God.
It was a daily struggle, but over the last two or three years, I saw so much more peace and hope within him. The restlessness was still there, but instead of chafing against something, he was aching to channel it towards helping others. Andrew can best be described as someone with a servant’s heart, someone who wanted to help others. I remember him telling me how he wanted to be a priest like his grandfather when he was little. By the time I met him, he was looking toward West Point and military service. Later, he became involved in NGOs and humanitarian efforts, as well as serving at WSS. In the midst of all of this, he used his artistic talents to create songs, novels, plays, and poems – works of beauty, suffering and humor that touched those who heard or read them.
I still hear his voice and words every day – his encouragement, humor, intelligence, bad grammar, love and acceptance. Andrew was the most amazing man I have ever met. My life has been profoundly affected by knowing him, as I know so many others would say.
Received: August 19, 2016
I was very fortunate to have Andrew as one of my AO! leaders in 2014. It was my first time on AO! and his first trip as a leader. To say that week was amazing, would be an undeniable understatement. Andrew served in so many ways: he lead devotions, played guitar for worship, defended our trash from raccoons, and never failed to make us all laugh. In everything he did, he did it to his very best. He lived every moment to the fullest, and loved life. He showed us everyday what it looked like to love Christ and live in His power.
I am so thankful for the time we had, and that I can say Andrew is my friend. I learned so much from talking to him and by watching how he humbly lived. The theme of AO! that summer was PEACE, which is a hard thing to fully understand, but Andrew gets to fully know this perfect peace a little earlier than we do. He will always be part of my WSS family, as well as part of my personal walk with Christ.
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.-
Received: August 2, 2016
Andrew and I have been very close friends since we were both in junior high school together. Over the years life took us down different winding / intersecting paths, but Andrew and I always maintained our strong brotherly friendship. Andrew was the best friend a guy could have – he was there for me through some really hard and through some of the best times; like being one of my best men at my wedding. I can say that I was loyal to Andrew and was also there through thick and thin, good and bad. We were both supported each other when our fathers were Afghanistan / Iraq (serving our nation in different capacities). Andrew was the kind of guy that would support a good friend, and believe the best in everyone, even when others did not. Andrew was the guy that drew people in with his humor / wit, intellect and magnanimous personality. Everyone wanted to be Andrew’s friend, and Andrew reciprocated that friendship. He was a shining star in a dark night.
Andrew was honestly one of the most intelligent and intellectual people I knew. We would both talk about philosophy, politics, history (in particular the World Wars) and religion for hours on end sometimes. Andrew was constantly reading, constantly writing, and always striving to learn more. Which brings me to one of the reasons for posting on this board: Andrew and I had a similar crisis of faith in our early adult years. We both questioned, doubted, pondered, rebelled and felt a lack of faith. This fog of faith lasted for many years for both of us. However, that is a part of growing up that I believe many people have. However, over the years, and through many ups and downs, as Andrew and I matured, we both started to grow back into our Christian faith in our own ways. Andrew truly was coming to terms with his faith and starting to live be its tenants in his last years on this plane of existence. Andrew was always charitable and trying to help people. One of Andrew’s main goals in life was to help people less fortunate overseas, and to strive and make this world a better place. I believe Andrew succeeded in his goals. Andrew touched some many peoples’ lives, in so many different, but positive ways. Part of Andrew’s legacy will be carried on in the spark that he lit within everyone whose heart he touched.
Thank you Andrew for being a part of my life (and still being there for me),
Received: June 13, 2016
Andrew and I lived together when he was finishing up his graduate studies. I only knew Andrew a short time, but his gifts were apparent from our first meeting. Thoughtful, intelligent, funny, seeking- he had the best set of traits and gave them to others freely.
When Andrew passed, I missed him and the deeper friendship we would have developed. But because Andrew lived every minute to its fullest, I am grateful for the ones we shared and am glad to see his memory continue here and with others lucky enough to have known him.
Received: May 5, 2016
I first met Andrew in the summer of 2014 when I had the privilege of having him as my AO! leader. That week, he embodied the traits of a leader and Servant to the Lord. Everyday he would check up on us and make sure we were doing alright. He would sit down and talk to us and get to know us any chance he could. At the end of the week, what he said to me still motivates me now and has helped me decide on what I want to do and who I want to be. Andrew was so selfless, and devoted so much time to everyone he knew. His story is truly amazing. It was such an incredible opportunity to have spent that week with him and share fellowship with him. You could see God working through him in all that he did. I am so honored to have met him, and I will never forget the impact he had on my life
Received: April 19, 2016
I worked with Andrew for a few months during my employment at Nautica at Potomac Mills. I was an Asst. Manager transferred from a Northern VA Nautica store. We were very close in age but that didn't stop him from treating me with the respect I deserved as his superior and I always tried to treat all my coworkers as equals and Andrew was a such joy to work with. He was always in the best mood and knew how to keep everyone in a good mood. He was a dedicated worker, very interesting in general, all around just knew how to have fun. He always told me how much he loved snowboarding. Right before I left the company he told me about his plans for Afghaniatan and I was very encouraging of him to go off and achieve his goals. I kept in contact with Andrew throughout the years on fb and this is the first I am seeing of his death. My deepest sympathy to the family. Andrew will always be someone very memorable for me and although I do not have money to contribute at the moment, prayers always and forever.
Received: March 8, 2016
My last memory of Andrew was corresponding through emails after he recommitted his life to Christ. It made my heart smile to have him email me for advice on life decisions. I remember dissecting owl pellets with him when he was just a young boy so hearing from him as a grown man loving the Lord was special. Andrew had gone through some hard times but made his way back to his love...Jesus. His questions and concerns were all centered around Christ. I'm proud to have been a part of his life in bits and pieces of time. Andrew comes from a long line of faith. I will see you again, Andrew Baer. Thank you for the hope you left for any of us that lose our way...God is always waiting for our return into His arms.
Received: February 28, 2016