As a child, my mom read biographies of great Christian heroes to us to start our homeschool day. One of these was God’s Smuggler, and the memory of this man who smuggled Bibles past stony-faced guards remained with me for years. Recently, I received a new copy of God’s Smuggler and decided to reread it. I was immediately drawn into Brother Andrew’s story, his courage, and his faith as he did what he could to spread God’s love through Europe in a difficult era of history.
I received this book for review courtesy of the publicist; all opinions expressed remain my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
God’s Smuggler plot summary
Andrew grew up in Holland, dreaming of “derring-do” with his best friend while taking care of his brother Bas, who had special needs. Andrew’s father was a blacksmith and his mother a semi-invalid who still managed to offer hospitality and charity to every person in need who stopped at their door. He was eleven when the Nazis invaded Holland, and he spent the next years dodging soldiers, trying to make their life difficult, and helping his family find food.
When the war ended, Andrew was old enough to choose a career. Still looking for adventure, he joined the Dutch army and was sent to Indonesia. Andrew soon realized that life in the army was not what he expected. He became a dare devil, drinking himself to oblivion on his days off and deliberately wearing a yellow straw hat onto the battlefield as a dare and an invitation to shoot him. Then in one fight, a bullet smashed through Andrew’s ankle and sent him home.
Time in the hospital recovering gave Andrew a chance to read the Bible his mother had sent with him. He talked about faith with a friend back home via letters. A tent meeting ignited his fervor for God. When he was mustered out of the army, he spent his days reading the Bible. He went to work at a local factory to earn money, but also found his co-workers to be a fertile mission field. Feeling God calling him to be a missionary, he went to Scotland for school.
On his first missionary trip to Eastern Europe (then under Communist rule), Brother Andrew realized that the Christians behind the Iron Curtain didn’t have Bibles. It became his goal to get Bibles into their hands. As he traveled back and forth across Europe, meeting persecuted Christians and spreading God’s love and leaving behind Bibles, his ministry was born. Slowly, others joined him in taking Bibles to persecuted Christians in Europe and Asia and even into Cuba.
My thoughts on God’s Smuggler
Brother Andrew’s biography reads like a fast-paced whodunnit novel. His story is truly one of adventure, from his boyhood days of tossing fireworks at the Nazis to his adult ministry of getting a carload of Bibles past a Communist checkpoint. Throughout the story, Brother Andrew is humble and honest about his own failings. He grew up wanting adventure, and yet also struggled to discern what to do with his life and to discover where God wanted him. Once God called him to be a missionary, though, he didn’t let his lack of education or his physical disability hold him back from following God.
Throughout God’s Smuggler runs the theme of God’s provision. As a new Christian, Andrew doesn’t know how he’s going to pay for his missionary training or the other needs of his growing ministry. Over and over again, he takes his needs to God in prayer and shares how God miraculously meets those needs, even sending a cake in the mail just when it’s needed. From small needs to big needs, God provided for Andrew, just the right amount at just the right time.
God’s Smuggler also highlights the fact that as Christians, we truly are one body in Christ. Over and over again, when Andrew met the Christians in Communist countries, they were feeling alone and overwhelmed. Knowing that Andrew and others were praying for them and thinking about them gave them as much hope as the Bibles that Andrew handed them. Through his ministry, Andrew was able to provide for the physical needs of many believers behind the Iron Curtain, but also to provide them with the spiritual encouragement they needed to cling to God in difficult times.
Brother Andrew’s Work Today
Today, Brother Andrew’s ministry is known as Open Doors International and still works to carry Bibles and encouragement to persecuted Christians around the world. Although the Iron Curtain no longer stretches across Europe, there are still many countries where following Jesus means a loss of physical freedom. My copy of God’s Smuggler includes an interview with Brother Andrew about his work today in mostly Muslim countries.
Every year in January, Open Doors releases their World Watch List, a list of the top 50 most dangerous countries in which to live as a Christian. Their research looks at all aspects of life to measure the daily pressure and violence inflicted on more than 360 million Christians globally. Approximately 1 in every 7 Christians worldwide is persecuted because of their faith. The World Watch List provides details of what life is like for these Christians and how you can support them in prayer.
Think about that. 1 in 7. There are 6 people in my family, and many of my friends have families that are 7 or more. That means, statistically, that one person in each family would be persecuted for their faith. This isn’t something that happened only long ago or far away or to a tiny number of people. This persecution is happening now, around the world, to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
During the month of June, Open Doors Canada will be sharing stories, prayer requests and hosting a special One with Them online event—all focused on helping us learn more about about the plight of Christian captives. On June 26th, believers across Canada will stand united in prayer for our brothers and sisters who share our faith, but not our freedom. One With Them: A Day for Christian Captives is Open Doors Canada’s second annual national day of prayer focused on Christian captives.
You can find resources about persecuted Christians and how you can help them by visiting the Open Doors website. I highly encourage you to grab a copy of the World Watch List and God’s Smuggler and discuss it with your church, school, and family.
This past year alone, Open Doors World Watch Research found that globally:
- 5,898 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons
- 6,175 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced, and imprisoned
- 3,829 Christians were abducted.
God’s Smuggler is the amazing story of what one man did in response to God’s call on his life. Brother Andrew saw a need among his fellow Christians and responded to that need. Today, Open Doors continues to respond to the needs of Christians around the world. Many things have changed since the 1950s when Brother Andrew’s ministry began, but the persecution of Christians around the world goes on.
May Brother Andrew’s story encourage us to look at our own lives and consider how we can answer God’s call to help those in need.