Christian NewsToday

Died: Brother Andrew, Who Smuggled Bibles into Communist C…… | Information & Reporting

Anne van der Bijl, a Dutch evangelical identified to Christians worldwide as Brother Andrew, the person who smuggled Bibles into closed Communist international locations, has died on the age of 94.

Van der Bijl turned well-known as “God’s smuggler” when the first-person account of his missionary adventures—slipping previous border guards with Bibles hidden in his blue Volkswagen Beetle—was revealed in 1967. God’s Smuggler was written with evangelical journalists John and Elizabeth Sherrill and revealed underneath his code identify “Brother Andrew.” It bought greater than 10 million copies and was translated into 35 languages.

The e-book impressed quite a few different missionary smugglers, supplied funding to van der Bilj’s ministry Open Doorways, and drew evangelical consideration to the plight of believers in international locations the place Christian perception and observe have been unlawful. Van der Bijl protested that individuals missed the purpose, nonetheless, once they held him up as heroic and extraordinary.

“I’m not an evangelical stuntman,” he mentioned. “I’m simply an bizarre man. What I did, anybody can do.”

Nobody is aware of what number of Bibles van der Bijl took into Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, East Germany, Bulgaria, and different Soviet-bloc international locations within the decade earlier than the success of God’s Smuggler pressured him into the function of figurehead and fundraiser for Open Doorways. Estimates have ranged into the hundreds of thousands. A Dutch joke fashionable within the late Nineteen Sixties mentioned, “What is going to the Russians discover in the event that they arrive first on the moon? Brother Andrew with a load of Bibles.”

Van der Bijl, for his half, didn’t hold observe and didn’t assume the precise quantity was necessary.

“I do not care about statistics,” he said in a 2005 interview. “We don’t depend. … However God is the right bookkeeper. He is aware of.”

Van der Bijl was born within the Netherlands in 1928, the son of a poor blacksmith and an invalid mom. He was 12 when the German army invaded the impartial nation in World Struggle II, and he spent the occupation, as he recounted to John and Elizabeth Sherrill, hiding in ditches to keep away from being pressed into service by Nazi troopers. When famine hit the Netherlands in 1944, van der Bijl, like so many Dutch individuals, ate tulip bulbs to outlive.

After the battle, van der Bijl joined the Dutch military and was despatched to Indonesia as a part of the colonial power making an attempt to quash the Indonesian battle for independence. He was excited in regards to the journey till the taking pictures began and he killed individuals. By his personal account, van der Bijl was concerned within the bloodbath of an Indonesian village, indiscriminately killing everybody who lived there.

He was haunted, after, by the sight of a younger mom and nursing boy killed by the identical bullet. He began carrying a loopy straw hat into the jungle, hoping it will get him killed. Van der Bijl adopted the motto, “Get good—lose your thoughts.”

He was shot within the ankle and began studying a Bible his mom had given him throughout his convalescence. After he returned to the Netherlands, he began compulsively going to church, and in early 1950, he surrendered himself to God.

“There wasn’t a lot religion in my prayer,” van der Bijl mentioned. “I simply mentioned, ‘Lord if you’ll present me the best way, I’ll observe you. Amen.’”

Van der Bijl dedicated his life to ministry and went to Scotland to review on the Worldwide Evangelization Campaign’s missionary college in 1953. Chatting with Christianity Immediately in 2013, he remembered one important lesson from a Salvation Military officer who was instructing about road evangelism. The older man mentioned most would-be evangelists surrender too quickly, because the Holy Spirit has solely ready the center of 1 individual out of 1,000.

“Immediately my coronary heart revolted. I mentioned to myself, ‘What a waste,’” van der Bijl recalled. “Why go and spend your vitality on 999 who weren’t going to reply? God is aware of it and the satan is aware of it and he laughs as a result of after the primary 1,000 individuals I surrender in despair.”

He decided he would ask God to information him to the one one that was prepared for the gospel. As an alternative of spending his time calculating and strategizing, he would observe the steerage of the Spirit.

A short while later, he felt God communicate to him by means of Revelation 3:2: “Get up! Strengthen what stays and is about to die.” Van der Bijl understood he was speculated to go assist the church in Communist-controlled international locations. In 1955, he took a government-controlled tour of Poland however snuck away from his group to go to underground teams of believers. On a second journey to Czechoslovakia, he noticed that church buildings in Communist international locations wanted Bibles.

“I promised God that as typically as I might lay my arms on a Bible, I might convey it to those kids of his behind the wall that males constructed,” van der Bijl later recalled, “to each … nation the place God opened the door lengthy sufficient for me to slide by means of.”

In 1957, he made his first smuggling journey throughout the border of a Communist nation, getting into Yugoslavia with tracts, Bibles, and parts of Bibles hidden in his blue Volkswagen. As he watched the guards search the vehicles in entrance of him, he prayed what he would later name “the Prayer of God’s Smuggler”:

“Lord, in my baggage I’ve Scripture that I need to take to your kids throughout this border. Once you have been on Earth, you made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Don’t let the guards see these issues you do not need them to see.”

Van der Bijl adopted his early success in Yugoslavia with extra journeys and finally even smuggled Bibles into the Soviet Union. He recruited different Christians to assist him, and so they developed methods for avoiding the eye of border guards and secret police. Generally the smugglers would journey in pairs, disguised as honeymooning {couples}. Generally they might use out-of-the-way border crossings. They’d experiment with other ways of hiding Scripture of their small, inconspicuous vehicles. At all times, they might observe the main of the Spirit, and nobody was ever arrested.

Bible smuggling was criticized by a lot of Christian organizations, together with the Baptist World Alliance, the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, and the American Bible Society. They thought of it harmful—particularly for the Christians dwelling in Communist international locations—and ineffective. Sensational tales have been good for elevating cash, the critics alleged, however little else.

Chilly Struggle historians have debated the impression of Bible smuggling on Communist regimes. Francis D. Raška writes that it was “most likely important,” however “proof of the exploits is shaky, and liable to exaggeration and private aggrandizement.” There may be not less than some proof that the KGB stored shut tabs on van der Bijl’s exercise and should have had informants inside his community, in keeping with Raška.

After the success of God’s Smuggler, van der Bijl left smuggling to different much less well-known Christians. He shifted his consideration to fundraising for Open Doorways and ministry alternatives in Muslim international locations. When america invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, he turned an outspoken critic of American evangelicals’ assist for the battle on terror. Christians, he mentioned, might solely put their belief in army intervention if they’d given up religion in missions.

When talking to American audiences within the early 2000s, van der Bijl commonly requested Christians if they’d prayed for Osama bin Laden, chief of al-Qaeda. When US forces killed bin Laden in 2011, he expressed disappointment.

“I imagine everyone seems to be reachable. Persons are by no means the enemy—solely the satan,” van der Bijl said. “Bin Laden was on my prayer listing. I wished to satisfy him. I wished to inform him who’s the true boss on this planet.”

On the time of his demise, the ministry van der Bijl based was helping Christians in additional than 60 international locations. Open Doorways distributes 300,000 Bibles and 1.5 million Christian books, coaching supplies, and discipleship manuals yearly. The group additionally offers aid, assist, neighborhood growth, and trauma counseling, whereas advocating for persecuted Christians across the globe.

When requested if he had any regrets about his life’s work, van der Bijl mentioned, “If I might reside my life over once more, I might be much more radical.”

[ This article is also available in    ]

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button