It's a topic he tackles in his new the book, “Back to the Basics: A Christian Boot Camp.” But despite his interest in the military and actual war experiences, Anderson said he chose to write the book because of his interest in a different kind of warfare — spiritual battles.
“I prayed about it and decided to write a book on the subject, to let people know what Christianity is really all about,” Anderson said.
The idea for the book first came to Anderson while he was deployed in 2009, at age 25. Because of his job duties, Anderson said it was difficult to attend church services on base, so he and three fellow soldiers began hosting their own church services.
“We prayed about it and decided it would be good to start a flight line chapel. During that time, there were a lot of people coming to the service. … They didn't really have a grasp on what Christianity is,” Anderson said.
While still in Afghanistan, Anderson began work on a book outlining the basics of Christian faith, from his perspective as a soldier.
“I spent 19 months in Afghanistan, and pretty much the bulk of the work I did on it was while I was there,” Anderson said.
Spiritual warfare, Anderson said, is something that unites all Christians.
“In the spiritual aspect, whether you're a janitor at the church or the preacher, what we do is going to be a way to combat the spiritual war,” Anderson said.
When he returned from Afghanistan, Anderson found himself facing his own personal battles, including divorce. That left little time for thinking about his book, then Anderson was deployed for a second time, from August 2011 to February. During the second deployment, Anderson became serious about crafting a book he believes can help Christians sort through their beliefs.
“There's a lot of Christian books out there, faith-based work, but a lot of it is based on particular opinions, or particular denominations,” Anderson said.
What he wanted was a book firmly based in the teachings of the Bible, not his own opinions. Anderson began researching ways to publish and discovered Cross Books, a division of Christian publishing company LifeWay Publishing. Cross Books is a self-publishing outlet that helps Christian writers get their work to audiences and, something Anderson is particularly pleased about, make sure the books pass muster with respected theologians.
“I Googled every single Christian publisher out there, and I found Cross Books,” Anderson said.
“Back to the Basics” is available at barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com and crossbooks.com. The book also may be requested at local book retailers, including Bethany Book Room in Winchester.
“The book, in general, teaches different fundamental aspects of what Christianity is, what faith is, and how you can apply that to your life. How can we know Jesus was divine by the works he did? What is spiritual warfare? How can we apply it to our lives? What is salvation? How can I know if I'm saved or not?” Anderson said.
As a high school student, Anderson said he was more focused on completing his degree so he could graduate and join the Marine Corps. Now, though, he feels like writing is a permanent part of his life, and said he plans to write at least four more books.
Through the writing process, Anderson said he has grown as a person, and learned about putting his faith to work in his own life. That includes practicing forgiveness, and dealing with his experiences in Afghanistan.
“The issues I dealt with, I think it did impact how I wrote stuff. When I was dealing with the issues I was going through … it really confused me. I was questioning God, you know, I'm working for you, ministering to people, and I'm going through a divorce. In the end, it really matured me,” Anderson said.
While his personal experiences and military career are part of the book, Anderson said core Bible teachings are the focus.
“My work focuses on the whole, it doesn't focus on one group of believers … but on the broad spectrum of what the Scripture says,” Anderson said. “I have personal stories that I share in the book, but those stories go to connect to the Scriptures.”
Currently, Anderson is stationed in Jacksonville, N.C., and is researching his next book, which he hopes to complete in December.
“A lot of people with church mentalities, if you mess up, you're the worst person in the world. You know what, hey, we all mess up. Christianity is supposed to be about love. I can come back on the other end, better than I was when I started out. That's my personal message and something I hope to convey in the book,” Anderson said.
Contact Rachel Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter, @ParsonsRachel.