Brother Andrew: ‘Don’t Ever Forget We Are Here for the Book’
Today (May 11, 2018), Brother Andrew celebrates his 90th birthday. The Dutchman, who became known as “God’s Smuggler,” recently returned from a rare and private visit to his beloved Pakistan. The trip taxed his energy, but he enjoyed every minute of it. And his message sounded just as strong as when he first arrived in the beleaguered nation where Christian persecution continues to rise. This year, Pakistan is #5 on the World Watch List. Below, glimpses from the trip tell a beautiful story of a church that is being the hands and feet of Christ in the midst of crippling discrimination and deadly violence.
“Don’t ever forget we are here for the Book.”
It is the message Brother Andrew has devoted himself to proclaim ever since he said “yes” to God’s call to “strengthen what remains and is about to die” (Rev. 3:2) some 63 years ago as he encountered the persecuted Church. And it was the message he carried on this recent visit to Pakistan where God’s smuggler experienced a myriad of meaningful encounters with Christ followers.
In one profound moment, he watched a Pakistani child receive a Bible.
“I am back in this beautiful center, and you are here smiling at me beautifully and this little baby smiling at me,” he said. “We smile because we are here for the same reason: to mutually remember the cross and the resurrection. We remember we are both on the same journey. But is the book on the journey with us? I am so happy to see this little girl can read the Bible. Now give it to someone else and teach many more to read. Don’t stop.”
His mission–as always–was to encourage the local church and represent the Body of Christ.
“We are fatigued, weary and aching,” a local Pakistani church leader said. “We were waiting for him. Seeing Brother Andrew and his friends reminded us that we are neither forgotten nor alone. We are loved ever so much by the Body of Christ, this time represented by Brother Andrew.”
The trip took place only a few weeks after Brother Andrew’s beloved wife, Corry, passed away. “The Christians in Pakistan will forever remember her as a stalwart woman, full of faith,” this local church leader said, “always praying for countries such as Pakistan.”
A Voice for the Pakistani Church
During his travels, Brother Andrew met face-to-face with a mentee who began writing to him over 30 years ago. Through the years, Brother Andrew has personally challenged this friend to strengthen the church in his home country. For more than three decades, the two have faithfully walked together in that mission.
The Dutchman also took part in an extremely moving opening ceremony of a new chapel, St. Stephen And All The Martyrs. A Pakistani church leader explained the significance of the name–a reminder of the increasing violence and bloodshed Pakistani believers have seen over the years: “This chapel is to remember the call to lay down our lives as did Stephen–the first martyr of the Church–and then all the martyrs ever since.” Brother Andrew led the procession into the church–followed by family members of Pakistani Christians who have lost loved ones killed for their faith, as well as survivors of deadly attacks.
“My daughter and I are so happy to be in your midst,” Andrew said to the guests. “Because we want to see what God is doing in Pakistan. We know that the devil is doing many things, but we will never celebrate what he does. We only celebrate what God did in our midst. We feel so much one with you. And when we go back to our own country, we will certainly tell your story.”
Brother Andrew admired the building but added: “That buildings are growing is not important. The only thing that matters is that Jesus Christ grows in your heart.”
A local Christian shared how Brother Andrew’s presence at the ceremony encouraged her: “God has worked in brother Andrew’s life as well as the lives of people here. We see how He has brought to fruition a vision, a new font of living water to flow to the nations. His teaching is grounded in the Word of God, strengthens what remains in a shattered community of believers, and brings hope and joy.”
Another believer said, “Brother Andrew stood with delight, hope and boldness and spoke of his love for this ministry. He wants to be our voice and challenges his home church to recognize their responsibility in the killing fields of persecution and to be aware of those who are suffering. We are all part of the same Body of Christ. He encourages every one of us to be a thread in the blanket of prayer covering not just Pakistan, but all the nations.”
In the Next 50 Years
During his visit, Brother Andrew learned about the situation of modern slaves in Pakistan, many of whom are Christians forced to work in brick kilns. He was encouraged to see that through practical ministry–including vocational skills trainings, education and employment–local churches are offering these believers new life. But the reality is that this ministry is extremely difficult, challenging and even dangerous for the local church.
Brother Andrew also blessed students, some of which he had met several years ago, who had just finished a literacy course and are now able to read and write. When he initially met them, he warned and told them to prepare for more persecution that would inevitably come their way. Years later, he learned that many of these same students have suffered violence and brutality at the hand of extremists. A local Christian described the moment as “solemn” as Brother Andrew read and reflected on the words of Jesus in John 15:13:
‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’
“This is the path to greater love, the path that Jesus directs us to,” the believer said. “For us–Brother Andrew’s ‘family’ in Pakistan–he continues to be the reminder of God’s call to go forth, take risks and sincerely love our neighbor. God is not done with reminding the church in Pakistan to stand up and proclaim, to stay and be present, to be a vibrant burning presence and to serve the church in Southwest Asia, unflinching in the resolve of Christ to comfort the people of God, to awake, to strengthen and to restore.”
As he prepared to leave, his farewell brought many to tears, as one by one, Pakistani believers took his hand and shared their hearts with him–reflecting on the eternal legacy of a leader who has lived an extraordinary life of simple obedience.
“Goodbye, brother Andrew,” a local believer said through tears. “Until we meet again and will rejoice in what God will do in the next fifty years!”
In his parting words to the church of Pakistan he has loved and served for decades, the man who has been a brother to many focused on the “book” he has risked his life to share: “Don’t ever forget we are here for the Book. If we are here for the Book and the One who gave us the Book, we have to obey Him. Obey Him. Be Jesus in your form in Pakistan.”