Brother Andrew, a life for persecuted Christians, has died

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Brother Andrew, a life for persecuted Christians, has diedThe founder of Open Doors passed away at the age of 94. He was nicknamed “God’s Smuggler” after he started to smuggle Bibles into Eastern Europe in 1955. During his life he visited 125 countries to be on the side of those who suffer because of their faith.

Milan (AsiaNews) – Anne (Andrew) van der Bijl, the Dutch Evangelical activist known as Brother Andrew, has died.

Founder of Open Doors, an international organisation active all over the world in support of persecuted Christians, he titled his autobiography "”God’s Smuggler” in reference to the millions of Bibles he was able to get across even the tightest borders to deliver the Gospel’s message.

After studying at the WEC Missionary Training College in Glasgow, Scotland, he came to a turning point in his life in 1955.

As a member of the Dutch delegation, he travelled to Communist Poland for the World Festival of Youth and Students where he discovered a Church behind the Iron Curtain, oppressed and persecuted, in desperate need of Bibles.

From that moment, helping those who suffer because of their faith in Christ became his lifelong mission. To that end, he set up a foundation, which he called Open Doors, that every door may always be open to the Gospel’s message.

Speaking of himself, he said: “I hope that my life demonstrates that there is no more exciting mission than following Jesus wherever He leads us.”

Over the years, he crossed many a frontier. In the 1960s, he managed to get inside the People's Republic of China at the height of the Cultural Revolution.

More recently, he was one of the loudest voices speaking out in defence of Christians victims of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and South Asia. Yet, he often liked to repeat that for him the word Islam was an acronym for “I Sincerely Love All Muslims”.

Married for 59 years to his wife Corry, who passed away in 2018, he leaves five children and eleven grandchildren.

In the past few years, he was no longer in an active leadership role in Open Doors, which continues its activity following in his footsteps.

One of his best-known initiatives was the World Watch List, which issues an annual report that ranks countries according to their level of persecution of Christians.