Story Advocacy | 27 September 2022

“God’s Smuggler” Promoted


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Brother Andrew Ministered To Thousands of Persecuted Christians Around the Globe

 “The true passion and commitment of Brother Andrew for suffering Christians around the world has stirred my heart and encouraged me, even in the darkest hours of my life behind bars.”  --- Russian Pastor   

ERMELO, NETHERLANDS -- God’s Smuggler has died at age 94. Anne Van der Bijl, better known around the world as Brother Andrew, died Sept. 27 at his home in the Netherlands.

Brother Andrew was the founder of Open Doors – the oldest worldwide ministry to persecuted Christians. The Scriptural basis was Revelation 3:2, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die.” and Revelation 3:8, “Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” Open Doors celebrated 60 years of ministry in 2015. 

“Brother Andrew, a servant of the Lord, father, grandfather, our brother in Christ and the much loved founder of Open Doors has left us today for his eternal home in heaven. He is now with Corry, his dear wife," said Open Doors CEO Dan Ole Shani.

"He lived for Christ and has died in Christ. We remember his family at this moment and extend our deepest condolences to them all. We pray for God to comfort and strengthen them with his love."

In 1955, Brother Andrew went with a Dutch delegation to the World Communist Youth Festival in Poland. There he discovered a Christian church behind the Iron Curtain desperately in need of Bibles. Brother Andrew distributed a suitcase full of Christian literature…marking the humble beginnings of Open Doors. 

Today the organization works in more than 60 countries through more than 1,400 employees with the purpose of supporting and strengthening persecuted Christians and churches. 

Brother Andrew often said: “Our very mission is called ‘Open Doors’ because we believe that all doors are open, anytime and anywhere. I literally believe that every door is open to go in and proclaim Christ, as long as you are willing to go and are not worried about coming back.”  

His autobiography, God’s Smuggler, is an international bestseller. Since 1967, more than 10 million copies of the book have been sold in more than 35 languages. It details Brother Andrew’s courageous journey toward living radically for Jesus Christ. His story includes dangerous border crossings in his Volkswagen Beetle, KGB pursuits, and moving encounters with Christians desperate to obtain a copy of Scripture. An updated edition celebrating the 60th anniversary of Open Doors was printed in 2015. It includes a 20-page epilogue highlighting further adventures since the book was originally published. 

It is estimated that Brother Andrew visited 125 countries and logged more than one million miles in his travels to preach the Gospel and befriend those in need. 

In the last several decades, Brother Andrew focused his attention on the Islamic World.  He traveled mostly to the Middle East and South Asia. He felt passionately that the rapid spread of Islam could be a far greater challenge to the Christian church worldwide than Communism ever was. At the same time, his love for others prompted him to use ISLAM as an acronym for I Sincerely Love All Muslims. He said, “When we have an enemy image of any political or religious group or nation, the love of God cannot reach us to call us to do something about it.” 

His friendships and love of God took him into private meetings with the leaders of several fundamentalist groups. He was among the few Western leaders to regularly go to these groups as an ambassador for Christ. His 2004 book Light Force: A Stirring Account of the Church Caught in the Middle East Crossfire (Revell in U.S.; Hodder and Stoughton in UK), co-authored by Open Doors’ Al Janssen, details his outreach in the Middle East. A later book, also co-authored with Al Janssen in 2007, was Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ.

Brother Andrew received numerous honors for his work. In 1993 he was knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. In 1997, he was the recipient of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Religious Liberty Award, recognizing his lifetime of service to suffering Christians and his passion for spreading the Gospel. In 2003, he received the Heritage of Faithfulness Award from the Christian Association of Senior Adults in California. However, Brother Andrew says he was proudest of being named a “Blood Brother” of the Apache Indian tribe in 1980s. As part of the ceremony he was given an Apache name that means “He who breaks through the lines.”

Through Open Doors Brother Andrew led the organization into places where most Christians do not go. His underground network of indigenous Christians has aided in the distribution of millions of Bibles each year worldwide as well as training for hundreds of thousands of church leaders. The ministry also assists in economic relief, literacy classes, and vocational training in the most dangerous countries in the world.  

Brother Andrew was married for 59 years to his wife, Corry, who passed away on January 23, 2018. They are survived by their five children and eleven grandchildren.

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