Brother Andrew, Founder of Open Doors Known as ‘God’s Smuggler’, Dies at 94

Anne van der Bijl, a Dutch evangelical known to Christians worldwide as Brother Andrew, the man who smuggled Bibles into closed Communist countries, has died at the age of 94.

Van der Bijl became famous as “God’s smuggler” when the first-person account of his missionary adventures—slipping past border guards with Bibles hidden in his blue Volkswagen Beetle—was published in 1967. God’s Smuggler was written with evangelical journalists John and Elizabeth Sherrill and published under his code name “Brother Andrew.” It sold more than 10 million copies and was translated into 35 languages.

The book inspired numerous other missionary smugglers, provided funding to van der Bilj’s ministry Open Doors, and drew evangelical attention to the plight of believers in countries where Christian belief and practice were illegal. Van der Bijl protested that people missed the point, however, when they held him up as heroic and extraordinary.

“I am not an evangelical stuntman,” he said. “I am just an ordinary guy. What I did, anyone can do.”

No one knows how many Bibles van der Bijl took into Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, East Germany, Bulgaria, and other Soviet-bloc countries in the decade before the success of God’s Smuggler forced him into the role of figurehead and fundraiser for Open Doors. Estimates have ranged into the millions. A Dutch joke popular in the late 1960s said, “What will the Russians find if they arrive first at the moon? Brother Andrew with a load of Bibles.”

Van der Bijl, for his part, did not keep track and did not think the exact number was important.

“I don’t care about statistics,” he said in a 2005 interview. “We don’t count. … But God is the perfect bookkeeper. He knows.”

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Source: Christianity Today