Andrew van der Bijl
|Andrew van der Bijl|
|Born||Andrew van der Bijl
May 11, 1928
Sint Pancras, Holland
|Other names||"God's smuggler," Brother Andrew|
|Occupation||Christian missionary, author|
|Known for||founder of Open Doors|
|Spouse(s)||Corrie van der Bijl (1958-present)|
Andrew van der Bijl (born 11 May 1928 in Witte, Holland), known in English-speaking countries as Brother Andrew, is a Christian missionary famous for his exploits smuggling Bibles to communist countries in the height of the Cold War, a feat that has earned him the nickname "God's smuggler." Brother Andrew studied at the WEC Missionary Training College in Glasgow, Scotland.
Brother Andrew was born in Sint Pancras, the Netherlands, and was the fourth of seven children to a poor, near deaf blacksmith and an invalid mother. He told John Sherrill and Elizabeth Sherrill, when they transcribed his memories into God's Smuggler, "From the day I first put on wooden shoes--klompen we call them in Holland--I dreamed of derring-do."
Conversion to Christianity
Brother Andrew recounts to the Sherrill spouses, in God's Smuggler, how, post-war, he enlisted in the colonial army of the Dutch East Indies during the rebellion that would eventually form the nation of Indonesia--and that this first venture into derring-do initially had unpleasant results. For he endured a period of severe emotional stress whilst serving as a soldier. He was wounded in the ankle during the fighting; during his rehabilitation, he read the Bible obsessively, eventually converting to Christianity and having his ankle healed, by the power of God.
Visits to Communist countries
In July of 1955, he visited communist Poland, "to see how my brothers are doing," referring to the underground church. He signed up to a Communist youth group, which was the only legal way to stay in the country. In that time, he felt himself to be called to respond to the Biblical commission "Wake up, strengthen what remains and is about to die" (Revelation 3:2). This was the start of a mission leading him into several Communist-ruled countries where Christians were persecuted--those behind the "Iron Curtain," where religions like Christendom were technically tolerated but actually illegal.
In 1957, Van der Bijl travelled to the Soviet Union's capital city, Moscow, in a Volkswagen Beetle, which later became the symbol of Open Doors, the organization he founded. An older couple that mentored him had given him their new car, because it could hold several Bibles and spiritual literature. Although Van der Bijl was violating the laws of some of the countries he visited by bringing religious literature, he often placed the material in plain view when stopped at police checkpoints, as a gesture of trust in God's protection. This was the penultimate realization of his childhood dreams of derring-do.
Brother Andrew visited China in the 1960s, after the Cultural Revolution had created a hostile policy towards Christianity and other religions. It was the time of the so-called Bamboo Curtain. He came to Czechoslovakia, when the suppression by Soviet troops of the "Prague Spring" had put an end to relative religious freedom there. He encouraged fellow believers there and gave Bibles to Russian occupying forces. During that decade he also made his first visits to Cuba after that country's revolution.
In 1976 some African countries came under atheist rule. He wrote a book about the spiritual struggle on this continent and in congresses called upon local Christian leaders to strengthen their communities.
In 1967, he published the first edition of God's Smuggler, written with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. God's Smuggler tells the story of Brother Andrew's early childhood, conversion to Christianity, and adventures as a Bible-smuggler behind the Iron Curtain. By 2002, it had sold over 10 million copies in thirty-five languages.
After the fall of communism in Europe, Brother Andrew shifted his focus to the Middle East and has worked to strengthen the church in the Islamic world. In the 70s he visited war-torn Lebanon several times, stating that "global conflict in the end times will focus on Israel and its neighboring countries."
Light Force and Secret Believers
In the '90s, he went to the region several times again. In the book Light Force, van der Bijl tells about Arab and Lebanese churches in Lebanon, Israel and Israeli Arab areas that express great delight because of the mere visit of a fellow Christian from abroad, because they feel the church in the Western world at large is ignoring them. Likewise, he and a companion, Al Janssen, visited Hamas and PLO leaders including Ahmed Yassin and Yasser Arafat, handing out Bibles. Further on, there is a portrait of a project called Musalaha, which was founded by the Palestinian Evangelical leader Salim Munayer. Musalaha's name is an Arabic word which translates as "reconciliation," and it attempts to bring closer together Israelis and indigenous Israeli Arabs.
Brother Andrew's seventh book, called Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ, was released on July 1, 2007.
- Brother Andrew; Sherrill, John; & Sherrill, Elizabeth (2001). God's Smuggler. Chosen Books. ISBN 0-8007-9301-3.
- Brother Andrew (1974). The Ethics of Smuggling. Tyndale House Publishers.
- Brother Andrew; Jackson, Dave; & Jackson, Neta (1988). A Time for Heroes. Vine Books. ISBN 0-89283-395-5.
- Brother Andrew & DeVore Williams, Susan (1990). And God Changed His Mind. Chosen Books. ISBN 0-8007-9272-6.
- Brother Andrew; Becker, Verne (2002). The Calling. Revell. ISBN 0-8007-5838-2.
- Brother Andrew & Janssen, Al (2004). Light Force. Revell. ISBN 0-8007-1872-0.
- Brother Andrew; Sherrill, John; Sherrill, Elizabeth; featuring Jars of Clay (2001). The Narrow Road: Stories of Those Who Walk This Road Together. Baker Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8007-5793-9.
- Brother Andrew & Janssen, Al (2007). Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ. Fleming H. Revell. ISBN 0-8007-3264-2.
- God's Secret Agent - Janet Benge, Geoff Benge – YWMA Publishing – 2005 – ISBN 1-57658-355-4. 
- Brother Andrew, with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. God's Smuggler (1967), p. 174, 198.
- God's Smuggler, Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, 2002 edition, page 8.
- "Brother Andrew's Story". Retrieved 2013-06-28.
- "Statistics on Brother Andrew". Retrieved 2005-07-01.
- (Dutch) "Open Doors timeline". Retrieved 2006-08-06.
- "Open Doors timeline (English)". Retrieved 2008-06-17.