Anne van der Bijl, the Dutch missionary known for smuggling Bibles into communist nations and founding the Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors, has died at age 94.
Commonly referred to as “Brother Andrew,” van der Bijl passed away on Tuesday, with Open Doors USA posting a statement about his death on its Facebook page.
“For more than 60 years, Open Doors' founder—Brother Andrew—visited over 125 countries in service to the global church. It's with mixed feelings that we share his greatest journey yet,” stated the organization.
“God used Andrew's obedience and prayers to change millions of lives and eternities. We are grieving but we are equally thankful. Celebrate our brother's homecoming with us today.”
Born in Alkmaar, Noord-Holland, the Netherlands, in 1928, van der Bijl became known for his efforts to bring Bibles to people in countries where the sacred book was banned.
Over time, he came to include what Open Doors labeled a “trademark prayer” to go with the Bibles: “Lord, in my luggage I have Scripture I want to take to your children. When you were on earth, You made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the guards see those things You do not want them to see.”
In 1967, van der Bijl wrote about his many experiences of getting Bibles to those without access to it in a book titled God’s Smuggler. Since then, the book has been reprinted in many languages and boasts over 10 million copies sold.
“As a boy he dreamed of being a spy undercover behind enemy lines. As a man he found himself undercover for God. Brother Andrew was his name and for decades his life story, recounted in God's Smuggler, has awed and inspired millions,” noted the description of the 35th anniversary edition of the book.
“Brother Andrew's story remains as inspiring today as it was thirty-five years ago, and with these new releases it will motivate a whole new generation to risk everything to follow God's call.”
In 1955, van der Bijl founded Open Doors, a Christian persecution watchdog organization that is known for its annual World Watch List, which documents the nations that most severely persecute Christians.
“I don't pray that God will lift the persecution because if there is persecution there is a plan that God has, otherwise God wouldn't allow it,” explained van der Bijl in a 2013 interview with The Christian Post.
“How do we pray? Not for God to remove persecution, but use that to purify the Church. And it is my strong belief that the countries where there is persecution are stronger in faith than churches in countries where there is no persecution.”