Today is a hard day. A day I’ve dreaded for months now. On November 21, 2012, a year ago today, my friend and our Worship Pastor at West Ridge Church was tragically struck by a bus while cycling in NW Atlanta.

I can truly say that Andrew was one-of-a-kind. He was the most steady, encouraging, joyful person I’ve ever been around. He was a gifted worship pastor, a loyal friend, and left a legacy for all who knew him (and even some that didn’t).

As I reflect on the incredible legacy of Andrew, there are four things that I’ll remember most that left a mark on me and inspire me in how I live my life.

Contagious Joy

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As I think back, I can barely remember a time that I didn’t see a smile on Andrew. I used to call him “Buddy the Elf” because I almost couldn’t understand how he lived his life with such joy and contentment. Conversations with him were filled with laughter, Nacho Libre quotes, and his big smile. The contagious joy he displayed has challenged me to keep my life rooted in Christ and to choose to see the best in everything around me.

The Power of Encouragement

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10

In hearing the stories of everyone who knew him through this past year, the thing that stuck out the most was how gifted he was in encouraging people. After hanging out with him, a few minutes later like clockwork, you’d get a text message from him with an encouraging word and scripture. He blessed so many people with an encouraging word to start their day and reminders to put God first in everything. Andrew displayed to me the power of encouragement and challenged me to use this free and powerful gift to encourage those around me.

The Blessing of Friendship

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.” -Romans 12:10 

I miss him in so many ways, but what I miss most is his friendship. Just like anything, you don’t always appreciate what you have until it’s gone. He left a mark on me to never underestimate how powerful a true-friend can be. They are hard to find, a treasure to keep, and a blessing for life. Be that person to someone, because they are a rare gift.

The Sovereignty of God

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” -1 Corinthians 2:9 

A day before Andrew went to be with Jesus, he tweeted that verse of 1 Corinthians 2:9. I can’t say that I haven’t been mad at God through the tragic loss of Andrew. But what I’ve seen through this loss is the sovereignty of God at work. Because of the legacy and example of his life, I’ve seen many people accept Christ as their Savior. I’ve seen countless people inspired to live their life better because of his influence. Our loss is heavens gain. Through this last year, through tears and hard times, God has shown his sovereignty and love.

My Challenge To You
Whether you knew Andrew well or never met him, I would challenge you with this: What if you lived your life with contagious joy? What if you decided to intentionally encourage those around you daily? What if you poured yourself out into the friendships you have? That’s Andrew’s legacy to me. A God-loving, one-of-a-kind friend whose life will forever impact me.

Almost 20,000 people have watched his memorial celebration. I would challenge you to watch this story of an incredible man and a life well lived.

 

  • John M.

    Thanks Phil. Vicki and I are I. The category of having only known Andrew through one worship service he led when we were guests. But he made an indelible mark on us that day and we mourned his passing as well. We never hear or sing “10,000 Reasons” without thinking of Andrew Pray, and that day he led us into Father’s presence. He truly added value to our lives and forever changed our experience of that song — especially the last verse.

    • John M.

      “in the” category

  • Doug Hammel

    Praying for you and the church and more importantly, his family. God has you all covered.

  • Brittany

    I never had the privilege of knowing Andrew but I remember the day he was called home and how many of the Internet blogs and sites I visit were overflowing with messages of sadness about the loss to not only his family but all his christian family as well. One of the videos I watched online was of Andrew leading praise with the song Cornerstone. I was so deeply touched by the video and to this day that song ALWAYS reminds me of Andrew. I just heard the song earlier today and was reminded of Andrew and his legacy again.. And also realized it is this week two years ago that he went to his eternal home. I said a prayer for his wife and children that they will have peace during this season of thanks and injust wanted them to know that I as a complete stranger have been touched by Andrew and his legacy and he is not forgotten. God Bless all!