The man known to Christians around the world as ‘Brother Andrew’ has died at the age of 94.
He became famous for smuggling millions of Bibles into Soviet Bloc Communist countries in his Volkswagen Beetle.
The Dutchman whose real name was Andrew van der Bijl founded the Open Doors ministry.
It remembered him as an “adventurer who courageously put his life on the line to take Bibles behind the Iron Curtain at the height of the Cold War.”
A biography called ‘God’s Smuggler’ sold more than 10 million copies in 35 languages.
The book inspired numerous other missionary smugglers and drew evangelical attention to the plight of believers in countries where Christian belief and practice were illegal.
Christianity Today reports Brother Andrew insisted he was no hero.
“I am not an evangelical stuntman,” he once said. “I am just an ordinary guy. What I did, anyone can do.”
A Dutch joke popular in the late 1960s said, “What will the Russians find if they arrive first at the moon? Brother Andrew with a load of Bibles.”
Andrew van der Bijl was born in the Netherlands in 1928, the son of a poor blacksmith and an invalid mother.
He was 12 when the Germans invaded the neutral country in World War II and he spent the occupation hiding in ditches to avoid being conscripted by the Nazis.
He was wounded while serving as a soldier in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and started reading a Bible during his convalescence.
Brother Andrew then committed his life to ministry and felt the Lord tell him to go and support the church in Communist countries.
He said: “I promised God that as often as I could lay my hands on a Bible, I would bring it to every country where God opened the door long enough for me to slip through.”
From 1957, he smuggled Bibles hidden in his blue Volkswagen into Communist countries.
Every time he crossed a border he would pray what he called “the Prayer of God’s Smuggler”:
“Lord, in my luggage I have Scripture that I want to take to your children across this border. 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.”
Later in life, he shifted his attention to fundraising for Open Doors and ministry opportunities in Muslim countries.
Open Doors now helps Christians in more than 60 countries, distributing 300,000 Bibles and 1.5 million Christian books, training materials, and discipleship manuals every year.
When asked if he had any regrets about his life’s work, Brother Andrew said: “If I could live my life over again, I would be a lot more radical.”