Brother Andrew, ‘God’s Smuggler’ who Snuck Bibles Into Communist Countries, Has Passed Away

Brother Andrew, the Dutch missionary known for his harrowing (and frequently miraculous) tales of illegally smuggling bibles into closed communist countries with his VW Beetle, has passed away at 94, according to his ministry page.

Brother Andrew, whose real name was Anne van der Bijl, became known as “God’s Smuggler” after a book of the same name published in 1967 recounted his adventures bringing bibles into countries like East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Yugoslavia, a move that the Southern Baptist Mission Board at the time criticized.

This book would sell 10 million copies and be translated into nearly 40 languages, with Bijl estimating that he and his organization have distributed millions of bibles over the decades in some of the most challenging places to do so. 

According to one famous incident, recounted on his ministry web page:

One of the most loved Brother Andrew stories recounts a risky incident from early in his ministry. On this occasion, Brother Andrew approached the Romanian border in his car—which was packed with illegal Bibles.

He could only hope the border guards were moving swiftly and not paying much attention, which might allow him to pass through undetected.

But just as he was hoping this, Brother Andrew saw the guards stop the car at the front of the line. He watched, in anticipation, as the vehicle’s owners were forced to take out all of the car’s contents and spread them on the ground for inspection.

Each car that followed received the same treatment, with the fourth car’s inspection lasting the longest. The guard took a full hour to sift through it, including removing hubcaps, taking the engine apart, and even removing the seats.

“Dear Lord,” Brother Andrew remembers praying, “What am I going to do?”

As he prayed, a bold idea came to Brother Andrew. “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.”

Putting the Bibles out in the open would truly be depending on God, rather than his own intelligence, he thought. So when the guards ushered Andrew forward, he did just this. “I handed him my papers and started to get out. But his knee was against the door, holding it closed.”

And then, the almost unbelievable happened.

The guard looked at Brother Andrew’s passport and abruptly waved him on. “Surely thirty seconds had not passed,” he remembers.

Brother Andrew started the engine and began pulling away, all the while wondering if he was supposed to pull over so the car could be taken apart and examined. “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.”

God had cleared the way for Brother Andrew to smuggle the Bible to Christians who had no access to God’s Word.

Brother Andrew would later found Open Doors, a ministry dedicated to helping persecuted Christians by “Strengthening Christians wherever they’re in danger for their faith in Jesus. Operating in 60 countries “From Sudan to Syria and North Korea to Nigeria” they help rebuild destroyed churches, offer emergency relief, discipleship training, trauma counselling of bible distribution.

Welcome home, good and faithful servant

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3 thoughts on “Brother Andrew, ‘God’s Smuggler’ who Snuck Bibles Into Communist Countries, Has Passed Away

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  2. Yes, “Welcome home, good and faithful servant”

    In contrast, which is also quite revealing of where we stand today, thousands of American pastors would condemn him and his actions. Why? Because, according to their low view of and mishandling of God’s Word, Brother Andrew was not “obeying the authorities,” and, therefore, he was NOT loving his neighbor.

    Such is the inverted reality of many today.

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