Brother Andrew often experienced controversy. Initially, there were objections to smuggling—was it really permissible for a person to break a nation’s laws to bring Bibles to Christians hungry for God’s Word?
The sequel to God’s Smuggler was his answer: The Ethics of Smuggling, © 1974. (Ten years later, the content was revised into another book called Is Life So Dear?: When Being Wrong is Right.)
Perhaps more controversial was Brother Andrew’s involvement in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It’s an area Christians are often passionate about. I had a front-row seat to Brother Andrew’s work in this area and wrote about it in our first book together, Light Force: A Stirring Account of the Church Caught in the Middle East Crossfire.
Brother Andrew told me that during the Six Day War in 1967, when Israel defeated the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, he seriously considered volunteering for the Israeli army as a truck driver. “I saw the Arabs as the threat.”
That all changed one Sunday after preaching about the suffering church at Narkis Street Baptist Church in Jerusalem. Andrew was approached by a woman who took his hand and wouldn’t let go. “I’m glad you are talking about the suffering church in Eastern Europe,” she said, but “there is also a suffering church right here!”
Andrew was confused by the statement. He knew there were Messianic congregations that occasionally faced harassment from Orthodox Jews. The woman explained: “I’m a Palestinian. I love the Lord Jesus Christ. And I’m not the only one. There are thousands of us, and we are struggling for our survival.”
She went on to explain that in 1948 when Israel became a nation, about 15 percent of Palestinians were Christians. But many of them had left the country, “because it is so hard to survive here, to make a decent living, and to practice our faith. Now we are only three percent Christian. Maybe less.”
‘We need a Bible school’—A Kingdom collaboration
In my 1999 interviews with Brother Andrew, one name kept recurring: Bishara Awad. He became Andrew’s teacher when they met after a church meeting in 1981. Bishara drove Andrew from East Jerusalem to the Christian school in Beit Jala where he was principal. The main building was built of stone and capped by a crude cross, formed by two sticks over a sign with a drawing of praying hands and the words “Hope School” in both Arabic and English.