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Martin Wroe - Greenbelt
Rod Bullpitt, National Church Life Survey
David Engwicht, Author Eco-City
Adrian Reith, Zoo Studios
Dr. Charles Ringma, Regent College
Brian D. McLaren, Author-Activist
Dave Andrews was brought up in the Baptist Church. His father, Rev. Frank Andrews, was a Queensland Baptist pastor, who, with his mother, Margaret Andrews, was involved in ministries in churches up and down the Queensland coast, from Cairns in the north to Southport in the south.
Dave made a commitment to follow Christ when he was just a young boy, and has continued to follow the way of Christ ever since. He married his wife Ange when they were twenty, and they went as missionaries to India when they were twenty-one. They served there with Interserve for the next twelve years.
They began by starting Dilaram, a Christian community working with travellers on the hippie trail, then started Aashiana, a Christian community working with local young people. Out of Aashiana grew Sahara, a well-respected Indian drug rehab centre, and Sharan, a world-famous community ministry helping the poorest of the poor in the slums of New Delhi.
When Dave and Ange returned to Australia with their daughters Evonne and Navi, they were employed by Queensland Baptist Care, and started the Waiters Union, an inner city community ministry working with disadvantaged people in West End, in collaboration with St Andrew's, the local church that their family continue to be involved with till today.
Dave has studied anthropology, theology and mission at Fuller Seminary and community development at a postgraduate level at the University of Queensland. He did his master's thesis on how to develop a community of hope in a hopeless situation. Tony Kelly, Senior Lecturer in Community Work at the Department of Social Work and Social Policy said Dave 'is an extraordinary individual. He is arguably the most outstanding community development worker, both theoretically and technically, to have graduated from this department.'
Dave teaches courses on community development in Australia at the Bible College of Queensland, the Queensland College of Theology and Australian College of Ministries, and in many countries including Cambodia, India, and Afghanistan as a consultant with Tear Australia, a Christian Aid Agency.
Dave has written many articles and books - the latest of which is the text for Compassionate Community Work. Charles Ringma, Professor of Missions at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada, says “Dave Andrews’ Not Religion, But Love shows us how we can follow Christ in our community.”
Rod Bullpitt National Church Life Survey (NCLS)
"Dave and his wife Ange arrived to work in Afghanistan in 1973. At the age of 22, they set up an open home in Delhi - a half-way house for the thousands of disillusioned travellers passing through India.
Within a short time the house was home to scores of junkies, freaks and just plain ordinary people. Some were desperately sick with hepatitis, tuberculosis and typhoid. Others had been robbed of passports and money. Others were strung out on drugs or disorientated by weird religious experiences. Others felt abandoned in a strange land, far from home.
This community house, with its atmosphere of faith and love, became home for hundreds of people.
For five years Dave and Ange worked intimately with these people, supporting them through their personal crises - even when they hurled plates of food at the wall, stabbed themselves, jumped off the roof, swung on the power lines or ran down the street naked.
Many of these people seemed to remain the same - in spite of the constant care. But others, like Schultz (not his real name), experienced dramatic change. Schultz had grown up wild on the streets of Austria. After some years he became a morphine addict. He skipped military duty, forged his passport and went to India where he overstayed his visa. While staying with Dave and Ange, he became a follower of Jesus.
Schultz decided to deal with his past and start afresh. He turned himself into the authorities and served a jail sentence for overstaying his visa. He was then deported to Austria where he served another jail sentence for forging his passport. Because of his pacifist beliefs, Schultz refused to serve the balance of his military duty and opted to sweep the streets for two years instead. Today, Schultz is minister of a church in Austria.
Five years after establishing that Dilaram community in India, the number of local people coming for help began to increase. More and more, Dave and Ange became convinced that they should start a community with Indians - solely for Indians.
So began Aashiana, meaning 'nest' - a place where broken people could become whole persons and 'learn to fly again'.
Under the auspices of Aashiana, Dave and Ange and their Indian friends set up a small but unique therapeutic community known as Sahara. Today Sahara is so well regarded as a rehabilitation centre, that people with personality disorders and drug dependency come to it from all over India.
All those who come for help are encouraged to help others. They are put to work serving the poor. Consequently, out of Sahara has emerged Sharan, a community development ministry. Today Sharan is recognised as one of the largest and most energetic voluntary organisations working in the slums and resettlement areas of Delhi, sponsoring educational, health, employment and community programmes with up to 40,000 forgotten people.
In 1984 Dave and Ange had to leave their beloved India when the Indian Government did not issue them visas to stay.
Back in Australia, they began working with the dispossessed people in that society: Aborigines, refugees, migrants, battered women, broken men, abused children, and those with mental and emotional problems.
They found the principles for working with people who had been pushed to one side were the same in Australia as they were in India.
There is one thing you need to know about Dave Andrews. He is dangerous. For example, after Indira Gandhi was shot, two or three thousand people were killed in twenty-four hours in the riots that followed. Mobs rampaged through streets looking for Sikhs to murder. Dave convinced Tony, a friend , that it was their job to go out and save these Sikhs. Finding a besieged house, they put themselves between an armed mob and a Sikh family and saved them from certain death. That's why Dave Andrews is dangerous. He is ordinary, yet believes ordinary people should take extraordinary risks to confront the cruelty in our world."
David Engwicht, Author Eco-City
I’d you really want to spend the weekend with a couple of saints? My wife Judy and I were sweating at the thought even before we disembarked at Brisbane airport into the stinking Australian summer heat. It turned out that the sainted couple and family were on holiday and had returned from their time away to spend the weekend hanging out with us.
Perhaps I need to explain my worries - Dave Andrews and his wife Ange have been terrorising my conscience for about 20 years now. They first began to do so when me met in India where they started working, aged 22, with the unworkable. Junkies, psychos, dropouts, travellers on the hippy trail and prisoners fell under their peaceful spell, along the ordinary 18 year old pimply youths like me.
I have not shaken that spell. After five years Dave and Ange stopped working with dropouts and joined the community of the poorest of all poor people - the shanty-town dwellers of Delhi. The people whom the churches of Delhi wouldn't help because they squatted illegally, on a rubbish tip.
For several years Dave, Ange and a small group of helpers lived for these people, and in some ways, died for these people. Priorities were to help the illegal community find drinking water, healthcare and education - dignifying them through co-operative action rather than a relief work' approach. They were happy to be identified with these people – to be part of an exchange. I think that's where Dave got TB. It was certainly where he continued his flirtation with violence.
Unfortunately, you see, Dave has a long history of violence. That is, he has a long habit (from school days) of putting himself between people in violent conflict. His technique, he says is to engage the aggressor in non-threatening, trivial conversation. Picture the scene: someone is attacking another with a broken bottle on the street when Dave happens to be passing. He first considers running away but thinks the better of it. He walks towards the action and kicks off with an Aussie-ism: "How's it going, mate ?" and proceeds from there hoping to divert the attention of the one beating the hell out of the other you engaging him in polite conversation... "Mmmm, radical, " I hear you say. Meanwhile, St Dave's knees are in major wobble mode
WouId Dave have rather been watching cricket or making mango shakes, do you think? Dave would, certainly. In fact that's what we spent a large part of our weekend together in Brisbane doing - no violence, no conflict except in my own conscience. You see, that's where the terror of getting to know Dave lies. He's not preachy doesn't say, "you should do this," or, "you shouldn't be doing that" and yet to hear him tell his stories (mostly about others, not himself) you feel immensely drawn to live like him. Spooky. It's almost as if someone other than Dave is talking to you.
Perhaps how you can imagine why we were so apprehensive about our holiday weekend visit which, incidentally, turned out brilliantly.
Apart from milkshakes and cricket, Dave's other weaknesses are playing football (he's rough), music, cinema and endless cups of tea.
Sounds a perfectly ordinary bloke to me. Beware."
Adrian Reith, Zoo Studios
Unlike most Christian leaders, Dave Andrews is not a cleric. He is not the pastor of a Christian congregation nor the director of Christian agency. He is not a scholar in a seminary nor a leader at the centre of the church’s life. He is a man at the margins.
What makes Dave Andrews so impressive is this – he has chosen to live out his calling in a very different way. Dave is someone who has been captivated by the radical and compassionate Christ. His Jesus is not the person of the stained-glass window, nor of popular religiosity. At an early age, Dave encountered a very different Jesus who later called him, together with his wife Ange, to walk the road of costly discipleship in service to the poor.
This road led him in 1972 to work with travellers on the Asian hippie trail in the Dilaram Houses. Extending hospitality and support to the many drug users on the trail. There was nothing ordinary about the young people who came to Dilaram. Many had tripped out on hallucinogenic drugs, indulged in weird religious experiences and were psychologically disturbed. They vomited on the floor, stabbed themselves, and ran naked down the street.
That some of them were healed was both a sign of God’s grace and the tenacity of Dave and Ange and their fellow workers.
This formative experience led Dave and Ange, together with some Indian friends, to establish an intentional discipleship community in Delhi five years later. Aashiana practised cluster living and simple lifestyle. Out of their life together developed ministries of personal care, social justice, and community development.
Under the auspices of Aashiana, Dave and Ange and their friends set up Sahara to cater for people with personality disorders and drug dependency. Structured as a therapeutic community, Sahara today continues to be a place of refuge and rehabilitation for troubled young people from all over India seeking help, as well as a training program for those wishing to initiate similar ministries.
Out of the Sahara ministry, a community development program, Sharan, was initiated. The link between the two reflects a commitment to holism. Those helped at Sahara were empowered to help others. Renewal is never simply for ourselves. We are also called to serve others. From these tentative beginnings, Sharan today has become a large well-known voluntary organizations working in the slums and resettlement areas of Delhi. Sponsoring educational, health, employment, and other community development programs, Sharan serves thousands of marginalised people who are HIV positive, or have full blown AIDS, all over India.
Dave had to leave India in 1984 when the government did not issue him a visa. That these ministries have not only continued, but have expanded since Dave and Ange’s return to Australia, is evidence of their empowering leadership style.
The Andrews’ return to Australia meant a new location, but resulted in the pursuit of a similar vision. In this sense, Dave is single-minded and irrepressible. The vision for community, and the care of marginalised people, adapted from their experience in India, not only continued in Australia, but deepened.
The Waiters Union was born in the inner-city suburb of West End, Brisbane. Here, a network of families and singles living in the local area with Dave and Ange developed a number of programs working with aborigines, migrants, refugees, abused women, broken men, and particularly those abandoned by the psychiatric system.
While the Waiters Union is sometimes wonderfully chaotic, because it is held together by a network of friendships rather than organisational rules and regulations, the vision is clear. It is focused on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and living out the love and justice that typified his life in the locality. People can join the Waiters by participating in the existing ministries, or by creating new ones. Here, creativity is the order of the day. Their strategy? To work with people rather than for people! .Sharing good news in the context of friendship. Empowering people in a caring setting. Connecting people to information and resources. Providing people with more choices and a greater control over their lives. While engaging people at the grass-roots, they also seek to change unjust structures that depower the poor and keep them marginalised.
This bare outline of some of the things Dave Andrews has done hardly explains the man, let alone his passion. Labels such as “activist,” "agitator," or "prophet," doesn't help at all. But that Dave is an important leader is a given. That he is not always understood by the church should hardly be surprising.
Dave will always carry a certain mystique. He is a charismatic person both at the speaker’s rostrum and face to face. There is an energy that oozes out of him even when he is overworked. My long association with him has convinced me that he is a natural leader with sharp mind as well as a very good community worker who has committed himself to empowering the poor.
While inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King and other leaders, Dave’s central impulse comes from his loyalty to Jesus. And this Jesus has kept him in the faith, has kept his heart soft and his imagination strong, and has kept him on the road of servanthood and frequent powerlessness in the face of disappointments.
The fruit of Dave and Ange’s life is evident – ministries established, friendships forged, people helped, communities transformed, and workers trained to do likewise.
Dr.Charles Ringma, Regent College
I kept seeing this guy on the shuttle bus - long hair, graying beard, a gentle 60’s-70’s feel to him. He seemed thoughtful, intense, friendly, and quiet, like he had a lot on his mind, as did I. Even though I saw him nearly every time I boarded the shuttle bus, we didn’t speak beyond him smiling and saying, “G’day” and me nodding and saying, “Hey” as we boarded or disembarked.
It was my first time at Greenbelt, a huge festival about faith, art, and justice held every August in the UK. I had always heard great things about the event and so was thrilled when I was invited to speak. I was just as thrilled to get a chance to hear in person some musicians and speakers I had only heard about from a distance, so I went through the program and marked people I wanted to be sure not to miss.
It was near the end of the conference when a friend told me to be sure to catch an Australian fellow named Dave Andrews. “I’ve never heard of him,” I said. “Oh, he’s a force of nature,” my friend said. “Kind of like Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, and Mother Teresa rolled up into one.” How could I not put a combination like that in one of the last free slots on my schedule?
I arrived at the venue a few minutes late and there he was, the bearded guy from the bus. Thoughtful, intense, and friendly, yes - but quiet he was not. He was nearly exploding with passion - passion and compassion, in a voice that ranged from fortissimo to fortississimo to furioso. How could a guy churning with so much hope, love, anger, energy, faith, fury, and curiosity have been so quiet and unassuming on the bus?
He was a force of nature indeed, evoking from his audience laughter, shouts, amens, reverent silence, and even tears before he was done. He spoke of justice, of poverty, of oppression, of solidarity across religious differences, of service, of hope, of celebration, of the way of Jesus.
As I listened, I wanted to kick myself. This is the most inspiring talk I’ve heard at this whole festival. Why did I miss all those opportunities to get to know this fellow on the bus? Now the festival is almost over and I’ve missed my chance!
Later than evening, I boarded the shuttle bus for the last ride back to my hotel, and there sat Dave and his wife, Ange. I didn’t miss my chance this time. I introduced myself and they reciprocated warmly.
I was a largely unknown American author at the time and hardly known at Greenbelt, much less in Australia, so I’m quite certain Dave and Ange had never heard of me. But they couldn’t have been kinder, and as we disembarked, he pulled two books from his backpack and told me they were a gift.
The next day when I flew home from Heathrow, I devoured them both on the plane. First, I opened Not Religion, But Love and read it through from cover to cover. Then I opened Christi-anarchy and couldn’t put it down either. When my plane landed, I felt I had been on a spiritual retreat ... or maybe better said, in a kind of spiritual boot camp!
Things I was thinking but had been afraid to say out loud Dave was saying boldly and confidently. Ideas I was very tentatively considering he had already been living with for years. Complaints and concerns I only shared in highly guarded situations he was publishing from the housetops. Hopes and ideals I didn’t dare to express he celebrated without embarrassment.
I think I gave him a copy of one or two of my books as well, and I guess he was favorably impressed enough that we stayed in touch and a friendship developed. I discovered that we were both songwriters as well as writers, that we both had a deep interest in interfaith friendships, that we both had some critics and we both had known the pain of labeling and rejection.
Since then, whatever he has written, I’ve been sure to read ... knowing that he speaks to my soul in a way that nobody else does.
We’ve managed to get together several times since our initial meeting in England, in spite of the fact that we live on opposite sides of the planet. We’ve spoken together at a few conferences on both hemispheres, and I had the privilege of visiting him in Brisbane. I’ve seen the beautiful things he has been doing in a particularly interesting and challenging neighborhood there, walking the streets with him, meeting his friends, sensing his love for that place and those people. He’s been in my home in the US as well, and we’ve been conspiring for some other chances to be and work together in the future.
I frequently refer to Dave’s work. I’m thrilled to introduce 'Christi-Anarchy', 'Not Religion, But Love', 'A Divine Society', and ‘People Of Compassion’ to everyone I can.
You’ll find he’s one part Tony Campolo, one part Jim Wallis, and one part Mother Teresa, a force of nature, as I was told.
You’ll also find he is a serious student of the Bible and a serious theological sage - the kind of reflective activist or thinker-practitioner that we need more of.
In a book like Christi-Anarchy, he can boldly and provocatively unsettle you and challenge you. Then in a book like Plan Be, he can gently and pastorally encourage and inspire you. Like the central inspiration of his life, he is the kind of person to confidently turn over tables in the Temple one minute and then humbly defend a shamed and abused woman from her accusers the next.
You’ll see in Dave’s writings that he is highly knowledgeable about poverty, ecology, psychology, sociology, politics, and economics ... not only from an academic standpoint, but also from a grass-roots, experiential level. His writing on these subjects grows from what he has done on the ground ... for example, nurturing a community network that is training young adults to live and serve among the poor, supervising homes for adults who are learning to live with physical and psychiatric disabilities, encouraging small businesses to hire people who others would consider unemployable and developing a non-profit solar energy co-op for local people.
Dave’s writings and friendship have meant so much to me. I consider him a friend and mentor. Now I am so happy that people across North America can discover him too.
You’ll feel as I did - so grateful that you didn’t miss the chance to learn from this one-of-a-kind, un-categorizable, un-containable, wild wonder from Down Under named Dave Andrews.
Brian D. McLaren Author-Activist