The founder of Open Doors, a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians, died at the age of 94.
Andrew van der Bijl, known in English-speaking countries as Brother Andrew, was a Dutch Christian missionary, known for smuggling Bibles into communist countries at the height of the Cold War.
“Now, it is with mixed feelings that we share his greatest journey yet. Brother Andrew has gone home to be with the God he spent his life serving,” said David Curry, the CEO and president of Open Doors USA.
“For more than 60 years, Open Doors’ founder — Brother Andrew — visited over 125 countries in service to the global church,” said Curry.
“Brother Andrew did not set out to start an organization. His original intention was only to give away a single Bible and a suitcase of Christian literature,” he said in a report on Vatican News.
“God gave Andrew a mission that was larger than life,” added Curry.
“As he prayed over a Communist youth rally in Poland in 1955, Andrew abandoned all else for a word from the Lord in [Bible verse] Revelation 3:2: ‘Strengthen what remains and is about to die.’ And then he started Open Doors.”
Shortly before he died, Brother Andrew told Worthy News partner journalist Johan Th. Bos that he was never interested in setting up an organization. “I am a volunteer now,” he said.
Till the end of his life, Brother Andrew, who wrote the best-seller “God’s Smuggler,” wanted to reach out to Christians in a personal way.
“I hope to testify with my life that there is no mission more exciting than that of following Jesus, wherever he leads us,” he was quoted as saying in a report on AsiaNews.
Among his best-known initiatives is the World Watch List, an annual report that ranks countries where Christians are most persecuted in the world.
It has since become a document of record for governments, media, and other decision-makers.
Brother Andrew was born in 1928 in the Dutch village of Sint Pancras. He grew up under Nazi occupation and, after World War II, went into military service and was sent to the turbulent Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.
He returned in 1949 while suffering an ankle shattered by bullets with “no idea what to do with his life,” his friends recalled.
Yet after a missionary training in Scotland and visiting then Communist Poland, he realized Christians in Soviet satellite states felt isolated behind the Iron Curtain and were “desperately looking for Bibles.”
Brother Andrew promised them to return with Bibles, laying the foundation of what eventually would turn into Open Doors with 1,400 employees in some 60 countries.
The organization Brother Andrew left behind became famous for supporting Christians in troubled countries and in-depth research.