"He was a legend . . . introduced dozens of young men to the game, took the rough edges off them, gave them boxes of vegetables and Weet-Bix, and sent them home with a pile of Adventist magazines." This was how the late Andy Beattie was described in the Hornsby Advocate, May 26, 2005, by cricket identity and author Alf James.
The author stopped short of telling the rest of the story, which could have read, "Then he arranged Bible studies for them, and saw them grounded and baptised into the Adventist Church."
Andy Beattie would have had to be among our most unique and successful soul winners in Australia. Among the large number of people he won to Christ were many "unchurched Harrys." When I met him in 1984, he had brought 35 people to the Lord and during the next 16 years Andy Beattie worked tirelessly with many of those we baptised at the Waitara church.
He was a loving and lovable Christian and the embodiment of the statement, "Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children." Andy often recounted how the Hornsby police breathed a sigh of relief when he and his two brothers were converted.
But God took this young man, uneducated, unpolished and unable to speak in public, and used him for the next 70 years to not only win souls for His kingdom but to inspire others to do likewise.
For more than 60 years, Andy worked first as an employee and then as a volunteer in the gardens of the Sydney Sanitarium and Hospital (now Sydney Adventist Hospital). Generations of staff and patients remember him fondly.
Andy used this vocation to win converts. Vegetables from the garden, which were not suitable for the hospital, he put aside to give to the needy. To these he added unsold food, flowers, fruit or vegetables that he secured from a chain of friendly businesspeople who obviously admired his work. After a hard day's work, he would be seen distributing his cartons
of vegetables. Presentation was not one of his strong points. Often grass had to be picked out of the parsley, and pumpkins sitting on delicate silver beet had to be rearranged by the recipient, but it all said, "From Andy with love. Remember somebody cares for you!"
He will long be remembered for the bunches of flowers he grew and took to the aged, sick or those in hospital. His roses, sweet peas and dahlias were outstanding.
When people were in need, Andy was often the first to try to help them. The many wealthy friends he cultivated in the affluent Wahroonga area--by pruning their roses, cutting their hedges or mowing their lawns--were often invited to help. In later years he was often seen adding from his meagre pension to the money collected. His family can witness to hearing tear-jerking stories, which also helped to empty their pockets after he had emptied his own.
In caring for people's temporal needs, Andy catered for their spiritual needs also. He bought books like Steps to Christ and The Desire of Ages by the carton. He never hesitated to tell people of his love for the Lord and the solemn times in which we live. In this way, he opened homes for Bible studies. And baptisms followed.
During these years he was the founder and captain of the Fox Valley Cricket Club. This gave him the opportunity to work with the young men of the district in a special way. Respecting him as a fair and brilliant cricketer, they enjoyed being part of his team. Then this dynamic Christian would introduce them to his Lord and the message he loved.
Fishing was another pursuit he enjoyed, and once again he used it as an outreach with another circle of friends. Andy was an instinctively successful fisherman. When others using sophisticated equipment were unable to get a bite, he would be pulling the fish in. At the end of the day he would divide his catch so each friend went home grateful for his friendship.
In the Waitara church he applied all the principles and techniques of his many interests and pursuits to his soul-winning work. He inspired and taught others how to work in a successful soul- winning team. He showed them how to apply principles that would bring in the best catch, or the most successful harvest.
In 1996, he won the Energy Australia Community Spirit Award and the Australian Sports Medal in 2000. But the Lord has yet to bestow on him His final awards. They include the promise that those who turn many to righteousness will shine as the stars forever. Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever. Daniel 12:3.
Bruce Price, now retired and living in Queensland, was Andy Beattie's pastor for 16 years at the Waitara church in Sydney, New South Wales.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God