Brother Andrew secretly carried Bibles behind the Iron Court

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meT will begin with information from a reliable source. Hidden introduction. Then a seemingly random incident, perhaps on the street. Only once safely inside, and out of sight, would Brother Andrew hand over the box he had brought with him. His acquaintances choked back tears when they saw what was inside. “You know, years ago I knew people in the West were praying for us,” a Romanian Christian once told him. “But now for many years we haven’t heard from them. We couldn’t never write letters, and it’s been 13 years since we received one. It has come to us that we are forgotten, that no one thinks of us, that no one knows our need, no one prays. ” As soon as he got home, he promised to tell as many people about the small Christian community in Romania (or Bulgaria, or Poland, or Russia – wherever he was) as not to they feel like forever more.

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Early on, he learned about volunteering for a job or reaching out to another. His father was up at five watering the garden to feed his six children. Then he walked four miles to his smithy. His invalid mother sat in her chair at home, listening to the gospel station from Amsterdam. Sometimes it was hymns, sometimes preaching. The family was poor, even by the standards of the poor in Holland before the war. Their house was the smallest in town. But he will never forget the endless stream of beggars, itinerant preachers, and beggars who came to the door. In his biography, he recalled how “the cheese would be sliced ​​thinner, the soup diluted with water”. Sometimes they had to dig up tulip bulbs from the garden and eat them like potatoes. But guest was not turned away.

He never meant to be a smuggler – to God, or to anyone else. But a revolution was another seed that was planted young. He was only 12 when the war came to the Netherlands in 1940. A German lieutenant took over the borough house and began to give orders to the townspeople. In the middle of the night the boy would sneak down from the attic, steal his mother’s precious sugar and pour it into the German soldier’s petrol tank. She never said a word.

Poland was the first communist country he visited. They called it socialism, not communism. When he heard that there was going to be a big festival in Warsaw, he wrote to the organizers suggesting that they could teach him about socialism if he told them about God. You can do what you want, they said. So in July 1955 he left across Europe by train. In his bag were hundreds of pieces titled “The Way of Salvation”, which he intended to give away.

Religion, he learned, was not forbidden under communism; he was co-opted by the state. In Czechoslovakia ministers had to renew their licenses every two months, and submit their sermons in advance for official approval. Where they could not beat God, the authorities tried to oppose his claim. In East Germany they offered free “Welcome Services” instead of baptism. Or marriage services that were legal and free. Those who saw God as the highest authority were told they were insecure. Many lost their jobs and were sent to prison. Children wore a red scarf as a sign that they doubted their parents’ religious superstition. Seeing the mass of red scarves at the end of the festival in Warsaw, he thought of a verse from the Book of Revelation. “Watch, and strengthen the things that remain,” he said. Persecuted Christians in communist countries died otherwise. He took it as a sign from God.

And so his new life began. The day his visa to Yugoslavia came through, a neighbor gave him his Volkswagen Beetle. “My wife and I have talked about it,” the neighbor said. “And there is nothing unspoken to us.” The friends he lived with in Berlin were fascinated by the idea of ​​bringing a Bible to the Soviet Union, he recalled. Their church had some Russian Bibles. Couldn’t he take them? He wasn’t so sure. Their car was already weighed down. Then some other friends came with a whole carton of Ukrainian Bibles. “Of course we’ll take them,” said his conspirator, as he placed them openly on his lap. “If we’re going to get arrested for carrying a Bible, we might as well get arrested for carrying a lot of them in.”

He learned to get around those who tried to break the law. Filling out visa forms, he put down his role as a teacher rather than a missionary. He confirmed that he was not preaching, but bringing blessings from Holland. And at every end, he shouted the smuggler’s prayer. “When you were on Earth, you made blind people see. Now, please, make your eyes blind.”

He never ceased to be amazed by what he encountered. The people in Macedonia were too afraid to come to church unless it was dark, but they came. The people in Bulgaria arrived at times so that at no time did it appear as if a group was gathering. It took an hour to collect 12 of them. A man named Petroff who spent his entire pension buying cheap Bibles whenever he could find them. Pages were often missing; they were cut out for cigarette paper. But Petroff made them whole, matching the Book of Genesis with a Bible that didn’t have one. All to give the finished work to a church that had no Bible.

The courage and common humanity of the people he met would have touched anyone, not just the believers. He knew he could stop at any moment, and return to a quiet life in Holland. But he continued to carry Bibles across borders – to Cuba, where Dutch visitors did not need a visa. To Uganda, and then across the Middle East. Soon the job was too much for one man and he founded Open Doors, a charity, to train a new generation of smugglers. In 1981 he organized Project Pearl, loading a million smuggled Bibles onto a beach just south of Shantou City to be sent throughout China.

A living church

A missionary church was a living church, he believed. A sticker on his battered backpack read: “Our God is not dead. Sorry about you.” He wanted there to be ten people. He wanted to divide himself into twelve parts and answer every call that came. One day, he would find a way to do it. And he did.

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