The true story of God’s smuggler, the organization he founded, the Bible he loves—and how you can carry on his mission every day
We often describe Brother Andrew as the founder of Open Doors. But referring to him as “the founder” could lead people to picture him as a suit-wearing executive who delivers presentations in a boardroom.
That image, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. In actuality, Brother Andrew is our chief adventurer and lead risk taker. He’s best known, in fact, for courageously putting his life on the line to smuggle Bibles behind the Iron Curtain at the height of the Cold War.
An introductory story
One of the most loved Brother Andrew stories recounts a risky incident from early in his ministry. On this occasion, Brother Andrew approached the Romanian border in his car—which was packed with illegal Bibles.
He could only hope the border guards were moving swiftly and not paying much attention, which might allow him to pass through undetected.
But just as he was hoping this, Brother Andrew saw the guards stop the car at the front of the line. He watched, in anticipation, as the vehicle’s owners were forced to take out all of the car’s contents and spread them on the ground for inspection.
Each car that followed received the same treatment, with the fourth car’s inspection lasting the longest. The guard took a full hour to sift through it, including removing hubcaps, taking the engine apart, and even removing the seats.
“Dear Lord,” Brother Andrew remembers praying, “What am I going to do?”
As he prayed, a bold idea came to Brother Andrew. “I know that no amount of cleverness on my part can get me through this border search. Dare I ask for a miracle? Let me take some of the Bibles out and leave them in the open where they will be seen.”
Putting the Bibles out in the open would truly be depending on God, rather than his own intelligence, he thought. So when the guards ushered Andrew forward, he did just this. “I handed him my papers and started to get out. But his knee was against the door, holding it closed.”
And then, the almost unbelievable happened.
The guard looked at Brother Andrew’s passport and abruptly waved him on. “Surely thirty seconds had not passed,” he remembers.
Brother Andrew started the engine and began pulling away, all the while wondering if he was supposed to pull over so the car could be taken apart and examined. “I coasted forward, my foot poised above the brake. Nothing happened. I looked out the rear mirror. The guard was waving the next car to a stop, indicating to the driver that he had to get out.”
God had cleared the way for Brother Andrew to smuggle the Bible to Christians who had no access to God’s Word.
Brother Andrew with Bibles from around the world.
Brother Andrew’s work went on to span many decades and geographic locations. And this infamous incident at the Romanian border became one of many close calls to follow. Along the way, Brother Andrew even developed a trademark prayer to say as he snuck Bibles and Christian literature across the border:
“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.”
Stories from Brother Andrew’s dangerous global exploits earned him the nickname God’s Smuggler—a handle that would also become the title of a best-selling book about his ministry. God’s Smuggler, one of many great Brother Andrew books, would go on to sell over 10 million copies and be translated into thirty-five languages.
A relatable hero
But beyond daring border crossings and renowned books, what makes Brother Andrew inspiring to many, however, is not just the extraordinary parts of his story. Many, rather, are moved by just the opposite.
We are drawn to Brother Andrew because we relate to him. His relatable nature is, in fact, why we know him as “Brother Andrew” in the first place. In his lifetime of travel around the world, he became “everyone’s brother” because he lived as a brother to all who follow Christ.
As a result, we see bits of Brother Andrew’s life—bravery and vision, risk and worry—in our stories as well. And in reading about him, we are delighted to see how God used an ordinary man like Brother Andrew. Because his story suggests God might also use ordinary people like us in extraordinary ways.
If Brother Andrew talked with each of us, he would likely encourage us along these exact lines. He would tell us as he has told many others, “The Bible is full of ordinary people who went to impossible places and did wondrous things simply because they decided to follow Jesus.”
“The real calling,” he has said, “is not a certain place or career but to everyday obedience. And that call is extended to every Christian, not just a select few.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, many ordinary people have been inspired by Brother Andrew to find ways they can support persecuted Christians. Thanks, in part, to their contributions, Open Doors has expanded many times over.
Today, Open Doors has bases and staff all over the world who work to support persecuted believers in more than 60 countries. These people, along with our supporters, still smuggle Bibles into regions that are hostile to the faith. But beyond that, they carry Brother Andrew’s legacy—his faith—forward into the years and decades to come.
Open Doors is the movement that Brother Andrew inspired. And those of us who are a part of it, like Andrew, welcome anyone who follows Christ to come alongside us and join our work. We hope today you will choose to join us in being the Brother Andrews of this generation.