Remembering God’s smuggler
The adventures of Brother Andrew were an inspiration to young Christians, says Laurence Wareing
For many who grew up in the 1970s, the story of ‘God’s smuggler’ made being a young Christian cool. In the bestselling biography of that name, Brother Andrew, who died in September aged 94, was cast as an inspirational adventurer who transported thousands of Bibles clandestinely across the Iron Curtain in his Volkswagen Beetle, and later into Communist China. With its blend of Christian commitment and page-turning drama, his story was as dramatic as those of David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz in The Cross and the Switchblade and, from an earlier generation, Corrie ten Boom.
Where many earlier Christian role models were dusty with the conventions of earlier ages, here were individuals who not only had vivid Christian testimonies to share but who looked and sounded like people from the movies. Their stories grabbed attention with backdrops of inner-city ganglands, the not-so-distant World War, and the ominously present cold one. They were as attractive to a young reader as anything by Len Deighton or John le Carré.
In large part, this was down to the genius of the husband-and-wife writing team John and Elizabeth Sherrill who recounted the lives of these modern Christians in a pacy way, bringing them to an international audience. While their account of Brother Andrew’s adventures, God’s Smuggler, didn’t get the Hollywood treatment that their other hit biographies received, it sold in millions and raised Andrew’s profile to such a level that he had to delegate his smuggling duties to others less well-known. Instead, he concentrated on developing Open Doors, the organisation that expanded and still continues his work supporting persecuted Christians worldwide.
Born in 1928, Brother Andrew – real name Andrew ‘Anne’ van der Bijl – grew up, like Corrie ten Boom, in the Netherlands. Following the end of the Second World War, he joined the Dutch army with enthusiasm. However, involvement in atrocities in Indonesia, where the Dutch were attempting to quash the struggle for independence, led to a profound disillusionment….
Laurence Wareing is Content Editor for Reform
This is an extract from an article published in the November 2022 edition of Reform