Born in England, Andrews grew up the son of a Baptist pastor in Queensland, Australia. After spending time in Afghanistan, he went to India with his wife Ange and stayed from 1972 until 1984. In 1973, Dave and Ange and their friends started a residential community called Dilaram and then in 1975 started another intentional community called Aashiana out of which grew Sahara, Sharan and Sahasee–three well-known Christian community organisations working with slum dwellers, sex workers, drug addicts, and people with HIV/AIDS. Present in that country at the time of the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, Andrews helped protect Sikhs from the backlash that ensued through non-violent intervention. David Engwicht claims that Andrews and a friend "put themselves between an armed mob and a Sikh family and saved them from certain death." Andrews and his wife were forced to leave that year.
Andrews was excommunicated from Youth with a Mission by their International Council. The reasoning, according to Andrews, was that "I was a rebel and, as an unrepentant rebel, would be summarily excommunicated," and that "it 'was what the Lord told' them to do." Andrews described the aftermath as devastating: "I became suicidal because all the significant people I turned to denounced me, no one else would speak to me, and the people who had promised to protect me ended up having psychological breakdowns. One guy was taken away to an asylum." Andrews has stated that he and his wife committed themselves to a creative, constructive course of reflection and action and experienced "a profound level of healing" over the next five to ten years. Andrews also developed his distinctive approach to Christianity which he called "Christi-Anarchy", which critiqued top-down hierarchical structures and advocated bottom-up self-managed other-orientated Christ-like community development processes.
Dave and Ange returned to Australia with their daughters Evonne and Navi, they were employed by Queensland Baptist Care. Dave and Ange and their friends founded The Waiters' Union as a network of spiritually minded activists who work with marginalised and disadvantaged people in West End. The Waiters' Union is a network of residents living in the locality working towards community with all people, particularly trying to include those who tend to be excluded. The Waiters' Union are involved in multiple formal and non-formal activities, including a Community Meal they have hosted every fortnight for the last twenty-five years, to which local people are invited. Many of these activities are listed in the Waiters' Union website at www.waitersunion.org. These activities try to encourage a culture of radical compassion, reciprocal support and mutual accountability.
After 9/11 exploded Andrews became alarmed at the way Christians were demonising Muslims in the lead up to invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. So he went to the local mosque and said ‘Christians, Muslims and Jews all believe Abraham is the father of our faith, and we all believe our God is the God of Abraham. So rather than let the press play us off against each other, why don’t we show our unity by coming together for prayer. And to start that process, why don’t I come and pray with you at the mosque on Friday?’ Sure, they said. So he did.
About that time Andrews met Nora Amath, the Chair of AMARAH (Australian Muslim Advocates for the Rights of All Humanity), and they talked about what they could do to re-build the bridges between our communities that the extremists were blowing up. They started by deciding to simply fast and pray together during Ramadan and invite Christians and Muslims to break the fast by eating a meal together to talk to each other about what prayer and fasting meant to them. This was the beginning of a series of empathic interfaith engagements they organized on the basis of four common sacred beliefs: 1. That there is only One God - The God of Abraham; 2. That Our God is a God of Mercy and Grace; 3. That God is bigger than our religions and can speak to us through one another’s traditions; 4. And last but least, that all truth is God’s truth, regardless of who speaks it, and we need to hear it.
Over the last few years Andrews fasted and prayed during Ramadan with his Muslim friends and, based on those conversations, he has written two collections of Christian-Muslim interfaith reflections. One is on the Bismillah- ‘Bismillahi r Rahman r Rahim’ - the invocation at the beginning of each sura in the Qur'an, which encourages us to work ‘In the name of God the most merciful, most gracious and most compassionate". The other is on Isa (or Jesus) whom Andrews and Amath believe embodies the Spirit of the Bismillah, and whose Be-Attitudes in the Beatitudes provide the framework for all their work.
In order to address the violence against Muslims in Brisbane, following the backlash against the rise of the so-called Islamic State, on Friday 26 September 2014. Andrews and Amath organised a very significant meeting of local Christian leaders who publicly affirmed their solidarity with the local Muslim communities at the Kuraby Mosque.
They asked all people to:
- Act in an exemplary manner, being strong but gentle.
- Adopt a dignified, friendly, courteous approach towards all.
- Respect people regardless of their faith. Don’t tell other people what you think they believe, let them tell you. Please listen.
- Respect other’s views, even if we disagree with their views. Acknowledge both similarities and differences between our faiths.
- Not treat an individual as a spokesperson for their whole religion, nor judge people by what other people of their faith may do.
- Speak positively of our own faith, not negatively of other’s.
- Encourage positive relationships between our faith communities.
- Encourage constructive relationships with the wider community.
- Use their wisdom, knowledge, skills and resources to serve others.
- Discuss any problems face to face so we can solve them peacefully.
Within the context of his community work in which he connected regularly within interfaith networks, Andrews' interactions within the Muslim community led to a great deal of concern about the rising tide of anti-Islamic sentiment. Not content to simply sit and be uninformed, he spent significant time in study and in intentional conversation with Muslims, seeking to understand the true heart of his Islamic neighbours religion. The outcome of this work resulted in The Jihad of Jesus (2015).
Met with some controversy in both Islamic and Christian circles, the book introduces the idea that "jihad" - which for many has been popularised as a call to 'holy war' - could in fact be interpreted through the "strong-but-gentle" approach of Jesus in whom both Christians and Muslims can find common ground. This alternate view interprets the concept of "jihad" not as a holy war, but as a sacred and nonviolent struggle for justice; reframing the word in what Andrews believes to be the true essence of its use in the Qur'an. The book has been promoted as "...a 'do-it-yourself' Guide for all Christians and Muslims who want to...struggle for justice and peace nonviolently side by side."