MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: remembering a missionary pioneer.
Last week, the missionary known as Brother Andrew died at his home in the Netherlands. Brother Andrew carried Bibles into Communist countries during the Cold War, earning him the nickname “God’s Smuggler.” WORLD’s Mary Muncy has his story.
MARY MUNCY, REPORTER: Brother Andrew was born in 1928 to a poor family in northern Holland. Despite their poverty, his mother gave away what little they had.
Here’s Brother Andrew in an interview with Net For God.
ANDREW: My mother already had a heart for the lost. For beggars, homeless people, people wondering the streets. And she would take them in and give them something to eat—which me and my brothers were not too happy with.
They thought that every time she gave something away, they got less.
AUDIO: [Dutch song about going into army]
When Brother Andrew turned 20, he joined the Dutch army and shipped out to Indonesia.
He thought it was a grand adventure until the shooting started. He said he participated in a massacre in a village—killing everyone.
After that he started wearing a big straw hat—hoping to attract bullets. And he did.
In 1948, a bullet smashed his ankle and he was sent to convalesce among nuns.
He laid in a bed with nothing to focus on except a spoiled running career and a ruined ankle.
So he started reading and made it through the whole Bible while he laid in bed.
Then, he went home and during a storm, he told God he would go wherever he sent him.
ANDREW: But I had every reason not to accept the call. I was invalid, I was badly injured in the war, I was uneducated, had never been to school, had no diplomas. But God kept saying, But you-you should be a missionary.
He kept telling God that he couldn’t even walk, how could he be a missionary?
ANDREW: But I remember one day walking on the Dike, I said Yes, and you know, the next day—the very next day, something happened to my old wounds. They broke open and stuff came out and I was healed.
He didn’t have any more excuses. So he started missionary school.
Then in 1955 after he finished school, he took a government-controlled tour of Poland.
He sat on a bench in Warsaw watching members of the Young Communist League parade past him—yelling about how God was dead, Communism ruled.
The parade was big, loud, and oppressive. And Brother Andrew put his Bible to his chest.
ANDREW: And then I heard another word. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Then I looked and I thought your knees too will one day bow before my Jesus.
He snuck away to visit the churches there and saw that no one had any Bibles—not even the priests. So he promised to take every Bible he laid hands on to them.
He smuggled his first Bibles into Yugoslavia. He packed them into his Volkswagen Beetle and disappeared behind the Iron Curtain.
He drove thousands of miles to give Bibles to anyone he could reach.
He also started Open Doors in 1955. It’s a group that helps persecuted Christians around the world.
ANDREW: People were so willing, and I was so surprised why are we not aware of the situation in the world today where there are people that need Jesus and want Jesus.
But the doors to Communist countries closed in 1968 when Brother Andrew published his autobiography, titled God’s Smuggler. The book made him too well-known to operate anonymously.
That’s when he started going by Brother Andrew, instead of his given name Andrew van der Bijl.
ANDREW: So when the book came out in 1968, I almost when straight to the Muslim world.
He spent the rest of his life trying to get Bibles into the hands of Muslims.
The first time Brother Andrew met with Taliban members, he spoke to boys who were about to graduate, 90 percent of whom would go straight into Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
This is him at a news conference,
ANDREW: I took out my little pocket testament—it was this one actually—and I said this is the only book that tells you how you can get saved. In my travels I don’t have to criticize Islam, as long as I magnify my Lord Jesus Christ.
He continued going back there even after two major heart attacks.
ANDREW: You say Andrew, ‘I know a door that you cannot get go through.’ Tell me—tell me publicly and I can tell you how you can get in there, providing you don’t insist on coming back.
Brother Andrew died last week in his home in the Netherlands. He was 94 and he’s survived by five children and 11 grandchildren.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Mary Muncy.
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