Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Uncommon Hero: Brother Andrew, God’s Smuggler

 By Sherri Stewart

In September 2022, we lost one of the great heroes of the last century. His name was Andrew von der Bijl. Does that ring a bell? If not, it’s because he’s better known as Brother Andrew, a name he adopted when he crossed into Communist countries with cars full of Bibles, facing death at every turn.

Are heroes born with innate qualities that enable them to become heroes? In Andrew’s case, the answer is yes. Born into a poor but tight-knit family in a small town in the Netherlands in 1928, Andrew always dreamed of adventure. But when Nazis moved into their town, confiscating cars, radios, electricity, and food, fourteen-year-old Andrew found some firecrackers, threw them through the Nazis’ windows, and ran for his life.

Andrew’s family were devout believers, but Andrew wasn’t in the least bit interested in godly things. In fact, while his family was in church, he always found a way to escape, then listened to parishioners chat about the sermon afterwards so he’d be prepped for his father’s questions about the sermon at dinner. That disinterest in God remained until he was shot in the foot while serving in the military in Indonesia. His mother had given him a small Bible to take with him, but Andrew didn’t open it once until he was in the hospital, despairing that he wouldn’t be able to run anymore, which was his favorite hobby. 

The first time he opened the Bible, he was hooked, and everything changed. Andrew determined to take the Bible to whoever God told him to, no matter where they lived. A short time later, he felt God speak to him through Revelation 3:2: “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die.” Van der Bijl understood he was supposed to go support the church in Communist-controlled countries. “I promised God that as often as I could lay my hands on a Bible, I would bring it to these children of his behind the wall that men built,” van der Bijl later recalled, “to every … country where God opened the door long enough for me to slip through.” 

While most missionaries pray that God would “make the blind see,” Andrew prayed that God would “make seeing eyes blind” of the guards and the police in every Communist country he entered. There was a time when three border guards inspected every inch of his VW bug for four hours, and they didn’t find the hundreds of Bibles in the car.

Van der Bijl followed his early success in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Poland, by eventually smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union. He recruited other believers to help him, and they developed strategies for avoiding the attention of border guards and secret police. Sometimes the smugglers would travel in pairs, disguised as honeymooning couples. They would experiment with different ways of hiding Scripture in their small, inconspicuous cars. Always, they would follow the leading of the Spirit, and no one was ever arrested.

Through it all, Brother Andrew remained a humble man, who along with his wife, Corrie, and their five children relied on God to give them what they needed to live. He founded the group called Open Doors which still takes hundreds of thousands of Bibles into closed areas. In later years, he turned his focus to Muslim countries. Brother Andrew travelled extensively in the Islamic world, talking to the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah. He was among the few Western leaders to regularly travel to the Middle East as an ambassador for Christ to those groups. His autobiography, God’s Smuggler, tells the story about this unique boy who sought adventure, and God used him in amazing ways. https://www.opendoorsuk.org/about/our-history/brother-andrew/

Selah Award finalist Sherri Stewart loves a clean novel, sprinkled with romance and a strong message that challenges her faith. She spends her working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing her own. Her passions are traveling to the settings of her books and sampling the food. She traveled to Paris for this book, and she works daily on her French and German although she doesn’t need to since everyone speaks English. A widow, Sherri lives in Orlando with her lazy dog, Lily. She shares recipes, tidbits of the book’s locations, and other authors' books in her newsletter.

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What Hides behind the Walls

If the Nazis stole your house, wouldn’t you be justified in stealing it back now that the war is over?

When Tamar Feldman admits to her husband, Daniel, and mentor, Neelie Visser, that she broke into her former home, they scold her for taking such a risk. Tamar is tired of being careful. She’s tired of living in the present, as if the past doesn’t matter. But the painting of the violin girl in her former bedroom draws her back again and again. She finally steals the painting to return it to its former owner. Now maybe this small act of justice will help her start to heal. What Tamar doesn’t realize is the past isn’t finished with her yet; in fact, it’s as close as the walls in her house and even follows her to Paris.



  1. Thank you for your post today! I enjoyed knowing more about Brother Andrew, and I think I should read his book!

  2. The book is excellent. My book club read it a few months ago, and I've read it twice since then.