Open Doors founder Brother Andrew dies aged 94

Brother André 1928 – 2022(Photo: Open House)

Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors, a global charity supporting the persecuted Church, has died aged 94.

Real name Anne van der Bijl, he was affectionately known as “God’s Smuggler” for his work transporting Bibles through the Iron Curtain in a blue Volkswagen Beetle.

He died Tuesday surrounded by his family.

Smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain was to be a feature of Brother Andrew’s work on behalf of the persecuted Church – and clearly rattled the Soviet Union, whose KGB reports on him ran to 150 pages.

The gripping story of his bravery is told in his autobiography, God’s Smugglersold 10 million copies and translated into 35 languages.

One of the largest Bible smuggling operations was to be “Project Pearl” in June 1981, when a 20-person Open Doors team smuggled Bibles into China on a custom-built barge under the guise of darkness.

A million Bibles were thrown at Chinese Christians waiting on a beach, which caused them to disappear, copies reaching every corner of China.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Brother Andrew turned his attention to the Islamic world, convinced that the rapid spread of Islam posed the greatest challenge to global Christianity.

His efforts were recognized in 1993 when he was knighted in his native Netherlands by Queen Beatrix, and again in 1997 when he received the World Evangelical Alliance’s Religious Freedom Award.

In 2018 he was congratulated by then British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who wrote to Brother Andrew thanking him for his work.

“I would like to express my personal thanks for the extraordinary and courageous support you have given to the persecuted Church over the years,” Hunt wrote.

“Having read ‘God’s Smuggler’ as a child, I know your story has inspired millions around the world to speak out on behalf of the voiceless and suffering.”

Commenting on his death, Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said: “When Brother Andrew began his ministry he had no idea that within 60 years he would encompass millions of Christians in the world. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy.

Brother Andrew was married to his wife Corry for 59 years until her death in January 2018. He is survived by five children and eleven grandchildren.

Details of a private memorial service will be released later.

Barry F. Howard