Heart for Service Rix Uses Many Talents for Missions
One of OC’s newest Bible professors brings an impressive list of skills and accomplishments to campus.
Dr. Charles Rix arrived last fall from New Jersey, where he taught at New Brunswick Theological Seminary and served as minister of the Monmouth Church of Christ in Tinton Falls. He holds a doctorate in biblical studies from Drew Theological School.
A retired financial executive for Exxon, Rix also holds a master’s degree from the prestigious Thunderbird School of Global Management.
If that weren’t impressive enough, he is also an accomplished pianist.
"OC is blessed to have a man of such great talent with a sure heart for service."
He has performed around the world, including St. Petersburg, Russia, and has been a finalist in international competitions in Paris and New York City.
After 17 years as a pulpit minister, Rix felt called to transition to full-time teaching. After interviewing, he knew OC was the right place for him.
“I quickly knew this was where I wanted to be,” Rix said. “It was the great people who convinced me.”
Dr. Alan Martin, dean of OC’s College of Biblical Studies, helped bring Rix to campus.
“Dr. Rix is truly a renaissance man,” Martin said. “OC is blessed to have a man of such great talent with a sure heart for service. On top of his academic preparation, he still has time to counsel and mentor students.”
When asked about what he has enjoyed most in his short time at OC, Rix says those same people stand out.
“The other members of the Bible department are such a talented, congenial and supportive group,” he said. “The students have been very engaged and receptive, too. I can’t imagine a more welcoming place.”
Helping students form their spiritual lives is one of Rix’s motivations for teaching.
“I really want to help students realize how reading the Bible well helps shape one’s faith,” he said. “I want to help them connect to the text in ways they haven’t thought of yet.”
One way Rix reaches students and churches with his lessons is by drawing from his musical experiences.
“I like to use art and narrative theory to unpack how the text reflects real life,” he said. “An understanding of music helps unlock the emotional response to God. It shows how real people living in the real world connect with these stories, especially in the Psalms.”
Rix recently published a series of essays exploring connections between the Bible, the Shoah and the artwork of post-Holocaust painter Samuel Bak. In fact, one of Rix’s areas of study is the presence of God in the midst of suffering.
But it is more than a topic of study for Rix. This year marks the seventh anniversary of his wife’s death from melanoma cancer. The two met in Singapore, where she was doing mission work and he was working for Exxon.
“Jenny had gone there to work with single women every summer since she graduated college,” Rix said. “Ministry was always a part of our relationship and time together. In my time at OC, I hope to continue that shared interest in missions and outreach.”
Rix will do just that April 20 with a benefit concert for OC’s Center for Global Missions. He will help raise funds for students interested in mission work.
Many of Rix’s performances, even at prominent events and venues throughout the world, have benefited mission work.
“Both times I performed in Russia, I was accompanied by a mission trip, and we were able to share the gospel or promote a local meeting,” he said.
Rix also sees his and Jenny’s shared focus on outreach continued through their children. His son, Nathan, has worked for Teach For America in a Dominican community in the South Bronx. His daughter, Abby Rix Degge, works in end-of-life care for those with HIV at a University of Maryland hospital.
“She works with people on the street who are dying,” Rix said. “And Nathan reached out to those that others had turned away. That’s our orientation, living out the kingdom to those in need.”
View more stories from the Spring 2012 issue of Vision magazine.