Anne Van der Bijl, commonly known as “Brother Andrew,” died on Wednesday, September 27. He dedicated his life to making the Bible available in closed (authoritarian and typically communist) countries. He was 94.
Born in 1928, Brother Andrew entered the Dutch army at 18. A bullet to the ankle put him in the hospital, where nuns introduced him to the Bible. He became a Christian.
During these years, a hard line divided the Communist Party-controlled Soviet Union from the rest of Europe. People called this line the “Iron Curtain.” Travel between the Soviet Union and other countries came with strict rules. Bringing Bibles or other Christian texts across the Iron Curtain could land a person in prison, or worse.
Brother Andrew travelled behind the Iron Curtain to visit Poland. He saw that the churches in the Soviet Union had little support. They needed Bibles and other resources.
That’s why he founded Open Doors, a ministry dedicated to strengthening persecuted Christians. He started smuggling Bibles across the communist line, asking God for “seeing eyes to be blinded” as he sneaked Christian materials past the guards. He wrote about his experiences in God’s Smuggler, published in 1967. The book brought worldwide attention to his ministry.
Brother Andrew travelled through 125 different countries to smuggle Bibles and share the gospel. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, his work didn’t stop. He turned his attention to the Middle East. At 90 years old, he went to Pakistan to tell Muslims, including members of the terrorist Taliban, about Jesus.
The work continues. Open Doors ministries continues to serve persecuted Christians. Missionaries risk their lives to share the gospel.
How can you share God’s word with someone who needs it?
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. — Matthew 28:19
(Brother Andrew smuggled countless Bibles into communist countries. Open Doors)