Open Doors founder Brother Andrew leaves behind kingdom legacy

September 29, 2022 by Tim Dustin in Advocacy

Known as “God’s Smuggler,” Brother Andrew ministered to countless persecuted Christians and world leaders through his life, work, prayers and the organization he founded. He left a true kingdom legacy that will continue for generations to come.

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

“Brother Andrew was an ordinary man who chose to go to hard places and do amazing things for one reason: He was following Jesus,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “One of the most interesting and well-known Christian leaders of our time, his passing indeed leaves a great void. But we believe, as he did, that God will raise up people to continue His good work in the persecuted church, to be the Brother Andrews of our generation.”

Brother Andrew’s travels logged an estimated 1 million miles through 125 countries.

“Our very mission is called ‘Open Doors’ because we believe that all doors are open, anytime and anywhere,” Brother Andrew often explained. “I literally believe that every door is open to go in and proclaim Christ, as long as you are willing to go and are not worried about coming back.”

Brother Andrew was married for 59 years to his wife, Corry, who passed away on January 23, 2018. They lived all of their lives in Holland and are survived by their five children and 11 grandchildren.

Andrew may be gone, but the inspiration from his faith is not. Our founder’s well-lived life, as a good and faithful servant, has left us with a fierce desire to serve God and continue serving the persecuted with the same abandon. As we honor the legacy of Brother Andrew, we are confident he is in the presence of God, hearing the words of the Lord in Matthew 25:21: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come and share your Master’s happiness!”

Photo credit: Renske Meinema Photography;

Learn more about Brother Andrew’s life and share about Brother Andrew’s impact on your life on our memory wall. 

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