Celebrating the life of Brother Andrew (1928-2022)

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Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, has died aged 94, surrounded by his family.

Nicknamed ‘God’s smuggler’, his ministry started by smuggling Bibles across the Iron Curtain in a blue Volkswagen Beetle. It was the beginning of Open Doors which, more than 65 years later, is continuing his ministry of supporting persecuted Christians around the world.

A remarkable legacy

Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said: “When Brother Andrew started his ministry, little did he imagine that within 60 years it would embrace millions of Christians worldwide. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy.”

Brother Andrew was born on 11 May 1928 in Sint Pancras, the Netherlands. He joined the colonial army of the Dutch East Indies, and converted to Christianity during a period of convalescence, where he spent much of his time reading the Bible.

After receiving missionary training in Scotland, Brother Andrew travelled to Poland in 1955 to participate in a Communist youth rally. He travelled there with a suitcase full of Christian tracts. Arriving there, he discovered that churches behind the Iron Curtain were isolated and in need of encouragement.

Brother Andrew
“Our very mission is called ‘Open Doors’ because we believe that all doors are open, anytime and anywhere.” – Brother Andrew

God’s Smuggler

His border crossings in a bright blue Volkswagen Beetle stuffed with illicit Bibles in 1957 is recorded in his autobiography, God’s Smuggler, which has inspired and encouraged millions of readers since. 

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Brother Andrew turned his attention to the Islamic World, saying that the rapid spread of Islam posed the greatest challenge yet to the Christian church worldwide. He travelled to the Middle East and South Asia and had private meetings with leaders of several Islamic fundamentalist groups. However, Brother Andrew preached against retaliation – repeatedly declaring ‘I sincerely love all Muslims’ as a counter to the rising Islamophobia in the west.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands knighted Brother Andrew in 1993. In 1997, he received the World Evangelical Alliance’s Religious Liberty Award, recognising his lifetime of service to suffering Christians and his passion for evangelical ministry.

But perhaps the recognition that pleased him most was the copies of KGB reports, which he obtained after the fall of the Iron Curtain. There were more than 150 pages about him, detailing his work in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Despite this, they were still unable to stop his work.

During Easter 2018, the then-Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to Brother Andrew, saying, “I would like to express my personal thanks for the extraordinary and courageous support you have provided to the persecuted Church throughout the years.

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

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