Open Doors Marks 50 Years of Serving Persecuted Christians

After 50 years, the oldest international ministry to persecuted Christians is still committed to serving the Persecuted Church—working in over 45 countries with a staff of 350.

Open Doors began in 1955, when a young Dutchman named “Brother Andrew” took a trip to Warsaw, Poland, behind the Iron Curtain. It was there that he found he could sneak away from his tour group and meet secretly with Christians. But, according to Open Doors, what he found “shook him.”

“The church in Poland was very weak, and had few Bibles to read,” according to Open Doors.

A few days later, Brother Andrew sat on a park bench and watched a parade of hundreds of communist youth marching through the streets of Warsaw proclaiming the glories of their revolution. Looking down at his open Bible, his eyes fell on Revelation 3:2, "Awake, and strengthen what remains and is at the point of death."

“It was Andrew's call to wake up from his complacency,” Open Doors reports, “and begin to help persecuted Christians who lived in some of the world's most difficult areas.”

With the birth of Open Doors, Brother Andrew and his initial team began to deliver Bibles through the Iron Curtain, bringing encouragement and help to the seemingly forgotten Christians.

Gradually the ministry spread to Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Muslim world.

Although Open Doors’ main work involved the delivery of God’s Word in the communist world, as the ministry grew, it expanded its outreach to providing Bible-based literacy classes, discipleship training, seminary training, vocational training and economic relief.

According to Open Doors, Brother Andrew’s work through the ministry has led the organization into places where most Christians do not go. His underground network of indigenous Christians has aided in the secret distribution of millions of Bibles each year worldwide. And the ministry has trained thousands of Christian pastors and church leaders through seminaries and persecution seminars, assisted in economic relief, literacy training, and vocational training in the most dangerous countries in the world.

“Brother Andrew’s vision for strengthening our persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide remains our core purpose as we work in dangerous countries throughout the world,” said Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. “There is more persecution now than ever before in such places as Iraq, Nigeria and North Korea.

“The Lord has enabled Open Doors to serve persecuted believers for 50 years,” Moeller continued. “What a blessing! Our suffering brothers and sisters need the prayers and support of churches in the United States. But they also stand as a testimony to us of tremendous faith and trust in the Lord.”

According to Open Doors USA, the ministry has made it a priority to help connect believers in the U.S. with Christians overseas through such programs as Women of the Way, Underground (youth ministry), Partners in Prayer, courier trips and many more opportunities.

In commenting on Open Doors, Rick Warren, founding Pastor of Saddleback Church in Calif., said, “Fifty years of serving and strengthening persecuted Christians worldwide—that is the legacy of Open Doors. An important part of that legacy has been Open Doors’ passion for motivating, mobilizing and educating the Body of Christ in the West to reach out to our suffering brothers and sisters.”

According to Brother Andrew, known to many as “God’s Smuggler,” the future will call for more ministry to persecuted Christians, especially in the Muslim world.

“Unfortunately, I think we (Open Doors) have a terrific future, because the conflict in the world is increasing,” said Brother Andrew, who assumed his nickname for anonymity. “The inside influence we have in the Muslim world; that is absolutely the focus of persecution and threat to the world. We are very much involved with a lot of that, not as much as I wish we were, but we have made a start. So I think that as we grow with our contacts and are vocal and write about it, more and more Open Doors will become a resource for many other groups wanting to make an impact in the Muslim world and around the world.”

In 1997, Brother Andrew was the recipient of the World Evangelical Fellowship’s Religious Liberty Award, recognizing his lifetime of service to the persecuted church and passion for spreading the Gospel.

His autobiography, God’s Smuggler, has sold over 12 million copies in over 40 languages. The international bestseller details dangerous border crossings in his Volkswagon bug, KGB pursuits, and Brother Andrew’s “courageous journey toward living radically for Jesus Christ.”

Currently in his 70s, Brother Andrew and his wife, Corrie, live in Holland and have 5 children and 4 grandchildren.