The story of “God’s Smuggler” is a well known one in Christian circles. Born Andy van der Bijl, May 11, 1928, in Sint Pancras, Holland, 4th of 2 sisters, 4 brothers. His father was a blacksmith. Parents both lived beyond his adolescence. Raised in Dutch Reformed church. Schooling ended 1940 due to Nazi occupation. Childhood distinctions: long-distance running and daredevil attitude. Studied at World Evangelization Crusade school in Scotland 1953 to 1955. First trip behind the Iron Curtain into Poland in 1955 sparked idea to ‘smuggle’ Bibles into Communist countries. Married ‘Corrie’ June 27, 1958 in Alkmaar (with whom he had five children). Daredevil exploits told in God’s Smuggler earned him an international reputation after 1966 but virtually stopped his own participation in smuggling. Expanded organization – called ‘Open Doors’ – into Latin America. Severely injured in 1971 plane crash. In 1970’s developed bases in Africa and Asia. Project Pearl in 1981 smuggled one million Bibles into Red China. 1990’s added focus on Muslim countries. 1995 stepped down as president of Open Doors, which had 20 offices in five ‘battle zones’: Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Muslim countries. Honored by World Evangelical Fellowship in 1997 as ‘legendary’.
What is not well-known about brother Andrew, is that he served as a Commando in the Dutch army in East Indies 1946 to 1949. He was severely wounded 1949, which ended his military career.
Here we have yet another brother in arms, who served his country and the King of Kings, and devoted his life to getting the Gospel behind the Iron Curtain. I remember seeing the movie based on his ministry. Yes it was inspiring, but as I recall, brother Andrew was pretty much portrayed as an effeminate pacifist, the “acceptable” portrayal of a Christian man.
He was not. He was a physically fit, focused, daring, and brave individual, who put his own life on the line to see the Kingdom of God extended.
Can we do less?
Rev. Chev. Charles R. Jones, KGC