Paul Andrews, Tampa, Florida

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Lights in the World, Holding Forth The Word Of Life

by Sewell Hall

It is generally supposed that to be an evangelist one must spend much time going from place to place. Yet one of the most effective evangelists of recent times spent forty years in the same city and lived thirty years in the same house. During all those years he was too busy doing the work of an evangelist to spend very many nights away from home.

Paul Andrews faced the same obstacles which many consider justifiable excuses for failing to save souls. He was working in a metropolitan area, a worldly seaport city in a resort community where many retired people make their home. The church was not large or popular and often his work was done in areas of town which were generally considered undesirable. The man himself, unaffected by the sophistication of the city, ever remained the country boy, raising his pigeons and preaching the same old gospel he had learned and preached in the hills of North Alabama.

In the face of all of this, Paul’s success as an evangelist cannot be questioned. Beginning with only six or seven families at North Street in 1958, he baptized more than six hundred before the congregation divided peacefully in 1971 to form a new congregation. During three consecutive years, he averaged almost one hundred baptisms a year. In the new location on North Boulevard, more than three hundred were baptized over a twelve year period. Most of these were substantial and stable people who have remained faithful and become workers in the kingdom.

How did this man accomplish so much? Many have tried to determine the answer to this. Was it that
unspoiled rural friendliness that waves at strangers and expects the best of everyone? Was it the challenge which new acquaintances always seemed to offer, causing him to begin making plans for their conversion? Was it the fact that the hospitality of his home was so often extended to those he was seeking to convert, reinforcing their feeling that he was genuinely interested in them? Was it his absolute certainty of the truth that he was teaching that made him so convincing? It was all of this; but most of all, it was the fact that he never forgot what he was—an evangelist. His job was to save souls by teaching them the gospel.

Paul did not measure his success by his reputation in the brotherhood. He never wrote articles for the papers. His concern was not what he was paid or the size of the church. He did not politic for meetings or for opportunities to appear on lecture programs. (At one such appearance, he expressed doubt that he should even be there, missing so many teaching opportunities back at home.) Paul measured success as an evangelist by the number of souls brought to the Lord. That kind of success is still possible if that is the success we are seeking.

Such success, of course, is not achieved by one man working alone. Good brethren provided support which gave him time to teach. His wife and family shared his interest and showed their concern for each prospect. Many of those he baptized were taught or brought by other Christians. As soon as one was baptized, he was expected to go and find yet another to be taught. Training and motivating other Christians is an important part of the work of an evangelist. Paul, the apostle, wrote to Timothy: “The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Several years ago, Paul conducted a personal work training course for a church in Alabama. A few weeks later the local preacher was asked to evaluate the success of the course. He replied that thirty-five classes were being conducted that week by members of the church. “What method did he suggest?” the preacher was asked. The reply; “He didn’t say much about methods; he just convinced us all that we were going to hell if we didn’t get out and share the gospel with the lost.”

Though he passed from this life on Lord’s Day morning, August 28, 1983, the light of truth will continue
to shine in Tampa and around the world from the many lamps which he set burning and from the vivid memory of his teaching. Paul Andrews—truly, a light in the world!