By James R. Cope
About 7:45 Sunday morning, August 28, the spirit of the beloved Paul Andrews took its flight from time to eternity. He was 62. For several years Paul had not been in the robust health characterizing his earlier life. A few months ago phlebitis gave him considerable trouble but he seemingly pulled out of that bout, went back to the pulpit, class work, and his incessant personal work program. Near midnight of the 24th he returned to the hospital but gradually his heart signaled that it could carry its burden no longer. He fell asleep in Jesus. Some months ago the North Boulevard church asked him to serve as an elder. In many ways he had been one of the shepherds of this flock from its beginning fourteen years ago. He never knew what it was not to try to do more if he thought it would advance the kingdom.
To know Paul Andrews was not only to love him; it was to respect and admire him. Evidence of the esteem in which he was held in the Tampa area was seen the evening before his burial when more than 600 people passed his casket in a Tampa funeral home – a far-and-away record for this home, one of the oldest and most popular in Tampa. The large North Boulevard church building was overflowing for the service the afternoon of August 30. Following the services, not less than 250 persons drove some 15 miles to Garden of Memories, for the burial service conducted by Tommy Andrews, the son of Frank, Paul’s brother.
In the meeting house assembly the arrangement was for Sewell Hall to lead the congregation in singing -spiritual songs at the beginning and ending of the service and between the remarks made in order by me, Harry Johnson and Ed Harrell. Roland H. Lewis led in prayer. Harry Johnson, very close personal friend, spoke of Paul’s influence over him as representative of the great number Paul worked with and encouraged in their lives for Jesus. Ed Harrell used several verses from Hebrews 11 and 12 as reflecting the life of our departed brother to motivate those present to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” My efforts were reflective of Paul’s wide influence in Hillsborough County over thousands during the 40 years he spent here.
Nom in Hazel Green, Alabama, Paul was one of twelve children, divided equally among girls and boys, and each of the males become a gospel preacher. At Dasher, (Ga.) Bible School he met Doris Copeland, a Tampa girl. Tampa soon became their home and, since Paul had earlier lost his father, Lloyd Copeland became a father to his new son-in-law. It was a Ruth – Naomi relationship between two men and continued with a growing devotion.
When Florida College opened its first session in the fall of 1946 Paul Andrews was the first to enroll. He later served in and for awhile voluntarily supervised the physical education program. He promoted and for many years directed the summer camp. Each of his children grew up in the school.
The College was not Paul’s first love. He knew the difference between the role of a Christian as a parent and his role as a simple teacher of God’s word in every relationship of life. He was foremost a preacher and teacher of that word and spent the greater portions of his life-span in advancing the kingdom of God.
For just over forty years Paul Andrews lived and labored in Hillsborough County, Florida. He worked on a regular basis with eight different churches and was instrumental in starting others including Drew Park, North Street and North Boulevard. If Tampa had a John T. Lewis within the last 25 years Paul Andrews was that man. In his four decades here, in addition to his labors with Sulphur Springs, Antioch and Dover, he spent six years with Belmont, six with McDill, one with Florence Villa, 14 with North Street and 13 with North Boulevard.
Paul’s success in personal work was remarkable. Actually, it was astounding! Shortly before he left North Street he told me that he had baptized more than 600 people while there. It is estimated that he baptized some 300 at North Boulevard. I doubt not that in his years in Hillsborough County Paul Andrews baptized more people into Christ than all of the other preachers combined. Some of these converts fell from grace but not because Paul fail ed to put forth a determined effort to save them if he knew of their departure. It should be remembered that many of those he baptized moved to other areas, taking with them the gospel learned at Paul’s feet and have become forces of spiritual strength in their newly found communities.
Today there are 28 churches in Hillsborough County standing for the simple gospel and the simple organization, work and worship of God’s people, free from the innovations and, digressive teachings which have turned multitudes from the New Testament pattern in the last 30 years. There is not one of these churches which has not felt the constructive influence of Paul Andrews in the 40-year period he has lived and loved and labored in this area.
This man was careful to make everything according to the New Testament pattern. He wanted it all straight down the line without compromise in any point. Kind to the core, he was at the same time firm from center to circumferance. He was a builder, not a wrecker of God’s work; a healer of wounds, not a trouble maker. He knew how to motivate babes in Christ and succeeded unbelievably. He was not a “meddler in other men’s matters”; no “gossip.” He tended to his work in the church employing him as an evangelist and expected every other church and preacher to do the same. The Lord’s business was his business and he was a busy man. His results prove him no sluggard. Withal, the night was never too dark nor the hour too late for his time and attention to be shared with any person needing his consideration and counsel.
Truly, “There is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel.” The number of Paul’s generation is lessening, the ranks are thinning. His example of quiet but effective labors should challenge all ages to a life of unreserved commitment in work and his pure life should motivate all to holiness of conduct. As we observe his large footprints upon the sands of time we can profitably reflect that a giant walked here!
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 19, pp. 591-592
October 6, 1983