By Barbara Witter with John and DiAnne Mott
Most of us wonder what it’s like to hear God’s voice resound as thunder. But Andy Mott doesn’t wonder. He’s heard it, and those who where with him continue to tell of it.
Andy, 20, is the son of John and DiAnne Mott of Mayfield, N.Y. He is a member of the First Free Methodist Church of Gloversville, N.Y. pastored by New England Conference Superintendent Wil Sharpe.
Soon after Andy was born his parents knew something was “different” about him. His head was large for his age, and he wouldn’t sit up or talk. He didn’t walk until 19 months. After bouncing between diagnoses the Motts finally received one that made sense: autism.
Andy’s parents knew this life-changing news set him apart from others and meant an uncertain future. They decided that in order to survive, they would dwell on the positives.
At an early age Andy fixated on telephones. The Motts later realized that he hears phones before they ring and can hear the yellow traffic light change. Andy calls this extra sensitivity “long distance hearing.” He was also fascinated with clocks, fire extinguishers and emergency personnel.
Doctors told the Motts Andy probably wouldn’t have many friends. However, a few years ago about 250 people attended his Eagle Scout Court of Honor; his congenial personality has gained him countless friends.
Andy’s literal mindset has become a strength. He takes people at their word, stays focused on his goals, and is committed to his standards and beliefs. At a young age, Andy chose a total commitment to God from which he’s never wavered. His first sentence was, “I was put here to help others.”
Andy’s commitment to community, God and church gives him opportunities to display a powerful, childlike faith. His uninhibited testimony is the catalyst for “Andy’s Story.”
Andy serves as a staff member at Camp Russell, a Boy Scouts Camp near Old Forge, N.Y. One day he was assisting Corey, one of the older Scouts, in a cooking merit badge class. Corey walked among the groups of boys encouraging them to take their time and build good fires because they had a lot of cooking to do. Andy followed saying, “Hurry and build your fires because it’s going to rain.”
Corey kept saying, “It’s not going to rain. Take your time and build good fires.”
Andy continued to say the opposite until Corey retorted, “Andy, it’s not going to rain!”
Andy responded, “Yes, it is.”
“No, it’s not!”
“I know God and it’s going to rain.”
“You don’t know God.”
“I know God, and He knows me.”
“God doesn’t know you!”
According to witnesses, Andy stepped forward, raised his hands and said, “God, show Corey that You know me.”
Immediately, the blue sky rolled away as dark gray clouds blew in. Thunder roared and lightening cracked. Everyone stepped away from Andy. Then the rain poured!
The boys ran under a tarp and sat at picnic tables for almost 2 hours watching rivers of water wash beneath their feet. After the first 45 minutes one scout asked, “Andy, since you know God can you ask Him to stop now?”
Andy replied, “No, He’s not done yet.”
Corey shook his head as he stood beneath an umbrella stirring the only pot of food still cooking. Finally, he agreed. … Andy does know God.
Along with being an Eagle Scout, Andy’s interests in education, safety and God form his foundation for life. He bought a fire truck and teaches fire safety to children. His former pastor was a fire department chaplain and mentored Andy in chaplain duties. He was the youngest fire chaplain at this year’s NYSAFC (New York State Association of Fire Chaplains).
Wanting to pursue a Christian education as well as fire safety, Andy contacted his mother’s alma mater, Roberts Wesleyan College, and proposed a certification program in fire safety with fire extinguisher emphasis. He wanted to attend chapel and train to be a fire chaplain while doing most of his training in his own community, where he desires to serve.
After meeting with Andy, the college suggested an internship with the security department at the college. With his program approved, Andy completed his freshman year spending some time on campus, communicating online with his advisor, and participating in numerous mentorships around the state. He also completed his fire extinguisher maintenance course and passed the state test.
Andy works mornings at Wilde Fire Truck manufacturing plant servicing fire extinguishers when not at college. He loves being the Mayfield Fire Department Chaplain and visits other fire chaplains and funeral homes.
Andy enjoys being an usher and playing the trumpet at his church, helping with the food pantry, serving meals at the Salvation Army, and being assistant scout master for Mayfield Boy Scout Troop 53. Andy’s life is fully blessed.
This young man with autism has a story everyone should hear. Andy knows God, and God knows Andy. It’s no wonder his favorite worship song is “Awesome God.” He’s heard God thunder an acknowledgment of their relationship, and he is quick to tell others they can have this relationship too.