Andrew van der Bijl, best known by Christians worldwide as Brother Andrew, passed away on Tuesday at 94.
Brother Andrew, the founder of the Christian persecution watchdog Open Doors, is best remembered for smuggling copies of the Bible into communist countries. His efforts earned him the moniker "God's Smuggler."
"For more than 60 years, Open Doors' founder – Brother Andrew – visited over 125 countries in service to the global church. It's with mixed feelings that we share his greatest journey yet. Today, Brother Andrew has gone home to be with the God he spent his life serving," Open Doors USA said in a Wednesday statement.
"God used Andrew's obedience and prayers to change millions of lives and eternities," the group added. "Millions of people count themselves forever changed by Andrew's words, prayers and his life. We are grieving, but we are as equally thankful."
As reported by CBN News, Brother Andrew was born in the Netherlands in 1928 under the Dutch name Andrew van der Bijl. When he was 12, Germany invaded the country during World War II. At the time, he hid from the Germans, so he wouldn't be forced to join the army.
He later rose to prominence with his book, God's Smuggler, which was published in 1967. The book, written by evangelical journalists John and Elizabeth Sherrill, details how Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles into communist countries past unsuspecting border guards in his Volkswagen Beetle.
According to Christianity Today, Brother Andrew reportedly smuggled millions of Bibles into Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, East Germany, Bulgaria, and other Soviet-bloc countries.
In one incident, detailed on the Open Doors website, Brother Andrew managed to cross the Romanian border in his car packed with illegal Bibles without ever being searched by guards. At the time, he noticed that the guards were searching every vehicle as it crossed the border.
"Dear Lord, what am I going to do?" Brother Andrew remembered praying.
Moments later, he came up with an idea that would ultimately prove to be successful.
"I know that no amount of cleverness on my part can get me through this border search. Dare I ask for a miracle? Let me take some of the Bibles out and leave them in the open where they will be seen," he recounted.
After reaching the guard post, the guard looked at his passport and waved him through.
"I coasted forward, my foot poised above the brake. Nothing happened. I looked out the rear mirror. The guard was waving the next car to a stop, indicating to the driver that he had to get out," Brother Andrew explained.
Today, Open Doors USA helps Christians in over 60 countries, Christianity Today reports. The organization distributes 300,000 Bibles, 1.5 million Christian books, training materials, and discipleship manuals daily. Additionally, Open Doors offers relief, aid, community development, and trauma counseling while also advocating for the persecuted church worldwide.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kayla James
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.