May 16, 2019
Brother Andrew was born during a hostile time in the world. As he entered into adulthood, he chose to fight against the injustices of communism. Communism restricted Christianity, and the Christians were strongly persecuted against. Brother Andrew was willing to put his life in danger every day, to go around the persecuted Christian nations for the Gospel. Brother Andrew brought Good News to those who were sick and dying, and he also brought Bibles to those who hungered for God’s word. He faced soldiers, guns, hostile borders, and other various dangers. Brother Andrew shows us the impact of a missionary who loves Christ more than his own life. He laid down his life to bring the Gospel to the nations who rejected Christ.
“Wake Up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die.”
– Revelations 3:2
A verse that would capture the missionaries heart in order to captivate the persecuted nations of the world. Brother Andrew brought the Gospel where the Gospel was officially rejected.
Who is Brother Andrew? Andy van der Bijl, now known as Brother Andrew, was born in 1928 in the Netherlands. Still alive today, Brother Andrew is known for his mission to bring the Gospel behind the Iron Curtain and then to persecuted nations all around the world. He drastically surrendered his life to the Lord and then risked everything he had for the Great Commission. He spent his life bringing Bibles to the persecuted and lost. Brother Andrew is still serving the persecuted church today through his Open Doors ministry.
Brother Andrew’s Beginnings
Andy van der Bijl, now called Brother Andrew, was born in the Netherlands during 1928. His family included eight people, with Andy being the 3rd oldest. They grew up quite poor, living in the worst conditions of their village in Witte. Every Sunday, the family would go to church, during which Brother Andrew would go on his adventures as a child. He did not care for the church as a child, and the love of God that his parents had did not greatly impact him as a child.
During Brother Andrew’s childhood, in 1939, World War II had begun. Living in the Netherlands put Andrew and his family right in the heart of the heated war. Near his home, dikes were blown up, causing flooding and destruction. Then the Nazi’s took over his country.
Andrew spent much of his adolescence running from forest to swamp, with other boys his age, trying to escape the Nazi’s. The Nazi’s were trying to capture the boys to become Nazi soldiers. Andrew actually fought the Nazi’s best he could by banding with other boys and stealing the Nazi’s equipment.
The Nazi’s affected every aspect of Andrew’s life. He even saw his own mother starving to death, due to the war and oppression. Andrew took this personally and wanted to fight against the tyranny. Andrew hated the oppression and the lack of freedom. He also hated seeing his people go hungry. When he was 18-years-old, Andrew joined the Dutch Resistance Army. This meant that he was officially fighting with his men against the Nazi party.
Youth in the Army
Bloodshed and gore filled the memories of Andrew’s early adult life. Andrew’s season in the army was one of hardship, to say the least. When he was sent to Indonesia, he was even forced to kill a mother and baby which horrified him. He did not turn to the Lord during this time, even though he always kept his mother’s Bible with him.
While in the army, his mother passed away, which led Andrew to drink alcohol heavily. Also, the horror that he saw in the war was a huge contributing factor to Andrews alcoholism. He could not escape his haunting memories no matter how hard he tried, but the young man realized that alcohol was not the answer.
To make his situation more desperate, Andrew was wounded. At age 20, he nearly had his leg amputated from a bullet through the ankle. This ended his military career abruptly.
Surrender to Christ
Andrew was crippled in a hospital, with no one but nurses to take care of him.
These nurses happened to be Franciscan nuns, who were so joyful that it caused Andrew’s curiosity to wonder. Upon asking them why they were so joyful all of the time, the nuns replied,
“It’s the love of Christ. Why it’s right here in the book beside you.”
– Franciscan Sister
Andrew realized the nun was motioning towards his mother’s Bible.
This experience convicted Andrew. It also spurred on questions inside of him that he had not recognized before. Brother Andrew was wondering about the Gospel.
After leaving the army, Andrew felt purposeless. And when the Dutch lost the war, he simply wanted to die. But he remembered those nuns, and he remembered his mother’s faith in the Lord.
After being released from the hospital, Andrew started going to church to find the answers he had been searching for. He was hungry for God. The young man would attend church meetings and Bible studies. He started reading Scripture more and more. One night, on his search for God, Andrew radically gave his life to Christ. He prayed,
“Lord if You will show me the way, I will follow You. Amen”.
– Brother Andrew
A Missionary Calling
After Andrew surrendered his life to the Lord, an evangelist named Arne Donker came into Andrew’s hometown, Witte. The evangelist pastor held a missionary meeting, in which Andrew attended. This is when Andrew answered the call to missions. He said “yes” to bring the news of salvation to others, that he had most recently accepted. It was a monumental moment for Andrew, and he knew his life was forever changed.
He started working at a new factory in town. Andrew knew that God was calling him in the direction of leaving his country, but he wasn’t sure where. So he started a very successful Bible study with his coworkers at the factory. He was a light to the men’s lives around him.
Following God, Andrew started attending World Evangelistic Crusade Glasgow Bible college in Scotland. Andrew was greatly hesitant, because of his lack of education and lameness due to his leg. But this was not too big for God. In a day of prayer with the Lord, Andrew’s ankle was miraculously healed after he surrendered his “weaknesses” to Christ. He then followed the call to go to WEC.
In September 1953, Brother Andrew started his studies at the WEC Glasgow bible college.
Andrew would study here for two years, and the biggest lesson he learned was how to live by faith. He should have known the Lord would be teaching him this because at the entrance to his new college, the words “have faith in God” was boldly on the doorway. It caught Andrew’s attention, and it would be a preface to his new journey ahead.
“In the years of living this life of faith, I have never known God’s care to fail.”
– Brother Andrew, God’s Smuggler
Learning to be a Missionary
In missionary training, Andrew had to have a great deal of faith for God’s provision.
Each student was given 1 Pound and was sent out into Scotland for missions. The students did not have a place to stay or any food provided for them. They had to rely on God and his provision for their very needs. At the end of a month, each student, including Andrew, found that they had more than enough. Even after tithing, they had more money than what they started with.
Every need was provided for, both monetarily and physically. Even in Andrew’s desperate need for one shilling for a visa, he gave his shilling to a poorer man. But God would provide Andrew 30 shillings in the mail that very same day.
Andrew had to take even larger steps of faith for the next chapter of his missions journey. After completing college, he did not know where God was calling him next. Until he saw a magazine ad. It was for a communist youth rally in Poland, and Andrew could not have felt more drawn to it.
Following the Lord
It was 1955 when Andrew was on his way to a communist youth gathering in Warsaw, Poland.
Brother Andrew’s main goal was to bring Christianity to communism while in Poland. The missionary was attempting to evangelize the communists. What was so bold about Andrew is that he told the government of his Christian faith before he arrived. But what is more shocking is that he was still invited into the country. The Lord was clearly calling him to Poland.
This trip was life-changing for Andrew. He was compelled to act when seeing the devasting impact communism had on the Polish people.
Andrew was not afraid to find the truth, even if it meant breaking the law and putting his own life at risk. After deciding to explore Warsaw by himself, Andrew soon saw the dark lies in communism. The communist party made it seem as though all of the citizens were living very well. But this was not the truth.
What Andrew saw spurred him further into missions. He saw so many people living in the poorest conditions, and even more spiritually poor. People were crammed into ghettos with very little drinking water and even smaller amounts of food. They were wearing rags in the harsh elements, and many children were without a home. What was worse than this to Andrew, was the oppression against the Gospel and the Bible.
Above all else, what tore Andrews heart the greatest, was the lack of Jesus Christ in the lives of the broken, sick, and lost.
During his time in Poland, working in the Iron Curtain, Andrew received his calling from the Lord. He was called to bring Bibles to the communists and even further beyond, though he did not know where yet. Andrew would bring Christ to where Christianity was persecuted against; a most dangerous mission.
Before going out to new nations, he went home to Holland. He witnessed to the free church concerning the persecuted church, gaining support for the mission of aiding persecuted brother’s and sister’s in Christ all around the world.
Missions Work in the Nations
From his very first trip to Poland, Andrew started passing out Bibles to the Polish people. He visited a church in the area, and he learned how to encourage the local Christians. He spent three weeks with the first Baptist church that he visited. Andrew felt that the Lord confirmed his calling because the church was so greatly encouraged. This was his first missions trip over the Iron Curtain border.
He was banished from the country once the communists found out what he had been doing. Brother Andrew was a true rebel for the Kingdom.
From Poland, he was called to go from country to country, all under the control of communism. He went to nations lacking Bibles in his Volkswagen Beetle. This Beetle was a vehicle God provided for his mission of transporting Bibles across borders. The single missionary would put his life on the line, to bring the Gospel to those who had no exposure to Jesus. He also brought Scripture to those who already were hungry for God’s word.
During his journies, Brother Andrew would encounter persecution himself. He would smuggle Bibles across the communist borders, relying only on God’s protection from the military. He is famous for the saying,
“Lord, in my luggage I have Scripture I want to take to your children. 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.”
– Brother Andrew
And the Lord answered his prayer. Countless times, the guards missed the Bibles in the backseat.
Brother’s and Sister’s in the Mission
Brother Andrew would never give up his missions work, and he knew that.
But in 1958, Brother Andrew married a woman named Corrie van Dam. They had been friends for many years, and after praying to God for a wife for a long time, Brother Andrew found that the Lord had brought them together. Corrie was such a support to the ministry that Brother Andrew had started. She also raised their five children while Brother Andrew continued to go on solo mission trips.
The missionary was in real danger for his life each and every time that he brought a Bible across borders. Corrie trusted the Lord with Andrew’s life.
The solo missionary did not stay solo forever. A man by the name Hans soon would join Brother Andrew’s intense mission trips.
Hans proved to be an important partner because the radical pair continued to grow into a radical group after Hans joined. Brother Andrew saw the fruit of working with a team, and many people started to aid in the mission.
The team became even bolder to go to Asia. Here, they carried on a ministry of preaching the Gospel and passing out Bibles.
However, they didn’t stop there. After the 1960s, the group would go into Middle Eastern and Islamic nations. The mission was to encourage the persecuted church all around the world.
Impact in Missions
Today, because of Brother Andrew’s passion and dedication, there now exists a ministry called Open Doors.
From a mission consisting of one single Dutchman, came an international missions organization that has caused exponential growth for Christianity. Open Doors is located in more than 27 countries in the world, and they reach out to over 60 persecuted nations for the cause of Christ.
Currently, Open Doors is very focused on reaching difficult Muslim nations. Annually, 2 million Bibles go to persecuted Christians through the many hands of those who work with Open Doors. Countless souls have come to Christ because of the ministry that God started through Brother Andrew.
“There are no closed doors to the Gospel, provided that, once you go through the door, you don’t care whether or not you come back out.”
– Brother Andrew
The story of Brother Andrew is inspirational and moving. God used this man to impact many, many people all around the world, causing exponential growth for the Gospel. For all of the details of his testimony, we recommend Brother Andrew’s book, God’s Smuggler.