Andrew Van der Bijl, the founder of Open Doors, and known around the world as “Brother Andrew,” died on Tuesday, September 28 at the age of 94. He left this world much as he’d lived his life, with little fuss or fanfare. He died peacefully at his home in the Netherlands, according to a family spokesperson.
Although gone, his faithful life and legacy has impacted millions, and will continue to impact millions to come, through Open Doors, the oldest worldwide ministry for persecuted Christians. He was “everyone’s brother,” a true servant of Jesus who washed the feet of persecuted believers for more than half a century.
Born in 1928, Brother Andrew grew up in the Netherlands. After enduring German occupation during World War II, he went to Poland with a suitcase full of Christian material. There, Brother Andrew discovered that churches behind the Iron Curtain were isolated, sparking his passion to serve them and ultimately leading him to form the ministry that became Open Doors.
Brother Andrew lived a life on fire for God along with a love for the persecuted church. With complete dependance on Jesus, he risked his life crossing the borders of these countries, illegally transporting thousands of Bibles to believers who had never seen the Word of God. He made hundreds of these dangerous trips, facing military checkpoints and car searches—earning the nickname “God’s Smuggler” for his daring Bible deliveries. Not once was he caught.
As his ministry in the Iron Curtain grew, God showed Brother Andrew that his mission was to strengthen what remains—to strengthen our family who were oppressed and isolated. He never backed down from that commission. From Africa and then into China, Russia, Afghanistan and the Middle East, Brother Andrew’s influence grew, along with his love for the church. And then, on a spectacular night in 1981, Brother Andrew launched Project Pearl, delivering 1 million Bibles into China. It was a great triumph for the gospel and the story spread to news outlets worldwide.
Under Brother Andrew’s leadership, Open Doors’ presence expanded through more than 60 countries. We began bringing Bibles, and that service expanded to emergency relief, vocational training and other essential help to Christians who are persecuted because of their faith. Open Doors is celebrating 67 years of ministry in 2022.
Learn more about Brother Andrew’s faithful life by watching the video below