Like all great ministers, Andrew didn’t start out with all the answers. After being told at twelve years old that God was the one who killed his father, the journey to the revelation of God’s unconditional love and grace would be filled with plenty of mistakes. But it was one that also led him to encounter God in a way that would forever change the course of his life. That encounter took place in a church prayer meeting on March 23, 1968.
And it was at that moment - when Andrew got mad at Marion - that God revealed the truth to Andrew:
“I don’t even know how it happened, but somehow, it’s like God pulled back a curtain, and I saw what a hypocrite I was. I wasn’t praying to God; it was all about impressing all of my friends and the leaders of this church. He just showed me that I was a total hypocrite. I don’t have the words to describe it, but I had taken pride in my holiness - in the fact that I’d never said a word of profanity, never drunk [alcohol, never smoked] a cigarette. And I looked down at other people, and I thought God owed me something. I was trying to earn God’s blessing in my life, and I thought I was doing a good job.”
Andrew continues, “But all of a sudden, when I saw things from God’s standpoint, it’s just like God showed me what a religious hypocrite I was. It devastated me, and, man, I got so convicted.”
Based on Andrew’s belief that God had killed his dad and that God was the ultimate punisher, he thought the same thing would happened to him. “I honestly thought God was going to kill me . . . . And so, before He killed me, I was just going to confess everything I could think of so that I’d go to heaven instead of hell.
“I honestly thought I was going to die right then. Usually my prayers were like five minutes maximum, and that night, I prayed probably for an hour and a half. I just turned myself inside out, and I started confessing everything I’d ever done. . . . I confessed in front of the leaders of the church and all of my friends every person I’d ever lusted at, every thought I’d ever had, every time I’d ever gotten mad, everything I’d ever thought about a person, things that probably I had no business confessing, but I was just getting rid of everything I could think of. . . .
“Finally, there was just nothing left to say. . . . I was just laying on the floor in a puddle of tears, and instead of God’s wrath coming on me, I just had a supernatural, a tangible love come on me that overwhelmed me . . . . I just got overwhelmed with how much God loved me and the reality of God. I mean, He was in that room!”
Andrew goes on to say, “I intuitively knew that His love for me had nothing to do with my goodness. . . . [This was] the first time in my life I ever realized I had nothing good to offer God, and it has served as a foundation for me. . . . The more I see God do, the more I know it has nothing to do with me. It’s not my goodness.” Andrew goes on to say, “Because of that experience that God’s goodness to me and love for me has nothing to do with how good I am - it just transformed me.”
Andrew says that now his confidence isn’t in self, but his confidence is in the Lord. He says, “I feel a hundred percent accepted and loved, not because I’m lovely, but because God is love. A lot of people, I don’t think, can make that connection. They think the reason God loves them is because they’re really awesome. I don’t have that deception.”
Fifty years later, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world are reaping the benefits of this experience. From the humble pews of a small church prayer meeting, one man’s encounter with the unconditional love and grace of God transformed a life into an unstoppable force for the kingdom of God.