The Co-founder of the Family First political party, Pastor Andrew Evans, passed away last Friday on the Gold Coast aged 87.

He had a long and distinguished ministry as a missionary in Papua New Guinea, he founded and pastored what was at the time the largest church congregation in Australia – Paradise AOG, as head of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God movement he oversaw phenomenal church growth and finally he was elected to the Legislative Council of the South Australian Parliament.

Pastor Evans was respected as a gentleman leader in both the church and politics.

He is survived by his wife Del and sons Pastors Ashley and Russell Evans and their respective families.

His first wife Lorraine passed away in 2011.

His eldest son, Ashley, Global Senior Pastor of Futures Church – formerly the Paradise Assembly of God – paid tribute to his Dad telling the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper that his father was as an “exceptional leader, a pioneer of team leadership and a hero to the people”.

“His colleagues from across the political spectrum respected him for his trustworthiness and ability to keep his word — a rarity in the world of politics,” he said.

“(His) respectful and kind demeanour won him friends on both sides of the aisle, making him a well-liked figure in South Australia’s political landscape. (He) cherished his role as a brother, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather.

“His love for his family knew no bounds and his presence left an indelible mark on their lives.”

His other son, Russell, Senior Pastor of Planetshakers Church in Melbourne, also told the Advertiser: “To tens of thousands he was their pastor.

“To hundreds of thousands he was their General Superintendent (of the AOG) and to South Australians he was a representative as politician.”

Out of concern for South Australia and the nation’s drift to the radical left, particularly on anti-family social policy, Pastor Evans co-founded the Family First political Party in 2001 and was elected to the SA Upper House in 2002.

He campaigned for human rights for the unborn and the elderly and was successful in keeping SA free of anti-life legislation during his time in Parliament.

He also campaigned for the dignity of young women and again, successfully convinced his colleagues not to allow their exploitation through a state-sanctioned sex trade.

However, Pastor Evan’s always said his greatest achievement in Parliament was removing the statute of limitations for prosecution of paedophile offences.

“If you’d committed a paedophile crime before 1982 you couldn’t be prosecuted,” he told the IN Daily in 2018.

“It took a fair time before it was passed, but eventually the whole parliament voted for it… why they hadn’t done it after all those years, I didn’t know [but] that put a few people in jail.”

In 2017 Pastor Evans supported the merger of Family First with Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives.

After a poor showing at the 2019 federal election, Bernardi decided to close the party.

However, after the South Australian Liberal Government of Stephen Marshall helped facilitate abortion-to-birth and euthanasia laws, two former Labor ministers, Jack Snelling and Tom Kenyon, re-started Family First with Pastor Evans’ blessing.

While yet to achieve Parliamentary representation, the revived Family First has contested elections in SA, Victoria and New South Wales in the past 18 months and grown from 400 supporters to 26,000 nation-wide.

In May 2022, Lyle Shelton, who previously worked for Australian Christian Lobby and Australian Conservatives, became Family First’s National Director.

“I had the privilege of knowing Pastor Evans for more than 25 years. He was a constant voice of encouragement to me during my journey as a political activist.

“During my last phone call with him last year he said he was ‘in God’s waiting room’. “Today he is with Jesus.”