“God’s Smuggler” Brother Andrew dies at age 94

Published 7:30 am Sunday, October 16, 2022

A hero of the faith died recently. You’ve probably never heard his name – Andrew Van der Bigi. During his lifetime, he became known as “Brother Andrew.” Born in the Netherlands, he was age 12 when the German army invaded his country during World War II.

According to biographical information, as a teen he worked alongside Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom in the resistance movement in his country. “As a college graduate, he started making trips behind the Iron Curtain, sneaking Bibles, books, or whatever else was needed to further the gospel there,” states “Christianity Today” magazine.

Brother Andrew later became known as “God’s Smuggler”, the title of the best-selling book he wrote about his life in 1967. A Breakpoint commentary says, “He was responsible for smuggling thousands of Bibles into the Soviet Union. He faced threats of capture, torture, prison, and execution with a simple creed:  ‘The Bible is full of ordinary people who went to impossible places and did wondrous things simply because they decided to follow Jesus.’”

In his book, he recalled his Bible-smuggling experiences. He described one scene at the Romanian border. He was driving a Volkswagen packed with Bibles. Brother Andrew saw the police search cars ahead of him for up to an hour at a time, dismantling seats and hubcaps looking for contraband.

He prayed, “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.” The police waved him through with only a glance at his passport.

One night in 1981, Brother Andrew launched Project Pearl, delivering one million Bibles into China via a freighter and a fleet of vehicles prepared to distribute them. Yet, he refused to see himself as a hero. “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…God opened the door long enough for me to slip through.” God’s Smuggler was never caught.

“God’s Smuggler”, one of many great Brother Andrew books, sold over 10 million copies and was translated into thirty-five languages. Forty years ago, he founded “Open Doors, the oldest worldwide ministry for persecuted Christians. He was “everyone’s brother,” a true servant of Jesus who washed the feet of persecuted believers for more than half a century.”

For more than 60 years, Open Doors’ founder Brother Andrew visited over 125 countries in service to the global church.  According to information about Open Doors, their organization “distributes 300,000 Bibles and 1.5 million Christian books, training materials, and discipleship manuals” every year.

Brother Andrew’s life can be summed up by the words of 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.”  I can imagine after Brother Andrew died, he heard God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21 NKJ)

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”