God’s Smuggler

Dutch Christian missionary Andrew van der Bill died on 27 September 2022 aged 94. To millions of Christians around the world he was known as Brother Andrew. In the 1940s, while serving with the colonial army of the Dutch East Indies during the Indonesian National Revolution, he was wounded in the ankle. During his rehabilitation he began reading a Bible his mother had given him. After he returned to the Netherlands, he started going to church regularly and in 1950, he surrendered himself to God. He said, “Lord if you will show me the way, I will follow you. Amen.”

In July 1955, Brother Andrew visited Communist Poland to attend the 5th World Festival of Youth in Warsaw and was told by a Christian bookshop owner about a lack of Bibles in the Soviet Union. So, he signed up on a government-controlled Communist tour to Czechoslovakia, the only legal way to be in the country. While he was in Czechoslovakia, he left the tour to meet with local Christian groups. Later that year he founded “Open Doors” a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians.

In 1957, he travelled to Moscow, the capital of the Soviet Union, in a blue Volkswagen Beetle which he had been given. Later he said, “I promised God that as often as I could lay my hands on a Bible, I would bring it to his children living behind the wall that men built and to every country where God opened the door long enough for me to slip through.” In 1957, he made his first smuggling trip across the border of a Communist country, entering Yugoslavia with tracts and Bibles hidden in his blue Volkswagen. As he watched the guards search the cars in front of him, he prayed, “Lord, when you were on Earth, you made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the guards see those things you do not want them to see.” Sometimes he placed the material in view when he was stopped at police checkpoints, as a gesture of his trust in God’s protection. Later he met Yasser Arafat of the PLO who gave him permission to open a Christian bookstore in the Gaza Strip.

In 1967, Brother Andrew published his autobiography entitled “God’s Smuggler”. He knew the Bible is God’s Word and that through reading it people come to know God and Christians are encouraged in their faith in Jesus. That’s why powerful political leaders are afraid of it. Brother Andrew wanted persecuted Christians around the world to have a Bible. He was a humble man who, as he looked back on his life, said, “I’m just an ordinary guy. What I did, anyone can do.”

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