Andrew van der Bijl

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Andrew van der Bijl
Andre van der Bijl
Brother Andrew in 2006
Andrew van der Bijl

(1928-05-11) May 11, 1928 (age 90)
ResidenceNorth Holland
Other names"God's smuggler," Brother Andrew
OccupationChristian missionary, author
Known forfounder of Open Doors
Spouse(s)Corrie van der Bijl (married 1958-2018--her death[1])

Andrew van der Bijl (born 10 May 1928 in Witte, the Netherlands), known in English-speaking countries as Brother Andrew, is a Christian missionary noted 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." He is known for praying "Lord, make seeing eyes blind." before he stopped at the border of a communist country for his car to be inspected.


Andrew Van Der Bijl was born in Sint Pancras, the Netherlands, and was the fourth of six children born to a poor, near deaf blacksmith and an invalid mother.[2] 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."

In the 1940s, he enlisted in the colonial army of the Dutch East Indies during the rebellion that would eventually form Indonesia, and that this first adventure initially had unpleasant results.[3] For he endured a period of severe emotional stress while 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. Van der Bijl studied at the WEC Missionary Training College in Glasgow, Scotland.[4]


In July 1955, Van der Bijl visited communist Poland, "to see how my brothers are doing," referring to the underground church. [5] He signed up on a government-controlled Communist tour, which was the only legal way to be in the country.[citation needed] 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 religions including Christianity, whilst legal, were actively persecuted.[citation needed]

In 1957, he 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. [6]An older couple, the Whetstras, that mentored him had given him their new car, because they had prayed about it, and believed that Andrew would need the car. A man who lived in Amersfoort, Karl de Graaf, claimed God told him to teach Andrew to drive. Later, when Andrew was in a refugee camp in West Germany, Philip Whetstra called Andrew to come to the Whetstras' new house in Amsterdam. Although Van der Bijl was violating the laws of all of the countries he visited by bringing religious literature,[citation needed] he often placed the material in view when stopped at police checkpoints, as a gesture of his trust what he believed to be God's protection.[7] This was the penultimate realization of his childhood dreams of derring-do.

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[citation needed] there. He encouraged fellow believers there and gave Bibles to Russian occupying forces.[citation needed] During that decade he also made his first visits to Cuba after that country's revolution.

God's Smuggler[edit]

In 1967, Brother Andrew published the first edition of God's Smuggler, written with John and Elizabeth Sherrill.[8] God's Smuggler tells the story of his 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.[9]

Middle East[edit]

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 Muslim 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."[citation needed]

Light Force and Secret Believers[edit]

In the '90s, Van der Bijl went to the region several times again. In the book Light Force, he 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.

Van der Bijl's tenth book, entitled Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ, was released on July 1, 2007.[10]


  • 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; Conn, Charles Paul (1977). Battle for Africa. Fleming H. Revell. ISBN 9780800708764.
  • Brother Andrew (1981). Building in a Broken World. Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN 0-86065-170-3.
  • Brother Andrew; Jackson, Dave; Jackson, Neta (1988). A Time for Heroes. Servant 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; 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; Becker, Verne (2002). The Calling. Fleming H. Revell. ISBN 0-8007-5838-2.
  • Brother Andrew; Janssen, Al (2004). Light Force. Fleming H. Revell. ISBN 0-8007-1872-0.
  • Brother Andrew; Janssen, Al (2007). Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ. Fleming H. Revell. ISBN 0-8007-3264-2.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ God's Secret Agent - Janet Benge, Geoff Benge – YWAM Publishing – (2005) – ISBN 1-57658-355-4.
  3. ^ J. LEE GRADY, Secret Agent Man,, USA, February 28, 2005
  4. ^ J. LEE GRADY, Secret Agent Man,, USA, February 28, 2005
  5. ^ F.P., Portes ouvertes, une histoire dans l’Histoire,, France, October 3, 2012
  6. ^ J. LEE GRADY, Secret Agent Man,, USA, February 28, 2005
  7. ^ Brother Andrew, with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. God's Smuggler (1967), p. 174, 198.
  8. ^ TIMOTHY C. MORGAN, Brother Andrew's Prophetic Plea: Stop Murdering Terrorists,, USA, MARCH 18, 2013
  9. ^ God's Smuggler, Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, 2002 edition, page 8. By 2016 over 17 million copies had been sold.
  10. ^ Library of Congress[permanent dead link], LCCN Permalink 2007000476.

External links[edit]