Martin* leaned forward in his chair, intent to soak up the words of such an important figure–the elderly, white-haired gentleman who had changed his life.
The man who, if you ask around our offices, changed most of our lives.
Brother Andrew, the now 91 year old founder of Open Doors, first became widely known after publishing God Smuggler which captured his exploits smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain during the height of the Cold War.
According to Brother Andrew, though, he had never set out to start the organization where both Martin and I are now employed. Andrew had never expected–not in his wildest dreams!–that this work would last more than 60 years. Or that his team would eventually support persecuted believers in more than 60 countries.
No Ordinary Effort
The significance of spending time with the visionary behind Open Doors was not lost on Martin. He knew firsthand, just as I do, why this work had taken off…even without any well laid plans.
Andrew was no suit-clad boardroom executive. Whenever people ask me about him, in fact, I tell them it would be more accurate to think of Brother Andrew as our chief adventurer and lead risk taker.
And the organization he birthed was, as a result, no typical non-profit. Open Doors, after all, has been known to do subtle things like modify tugboats to covertly smuggle one million Bibles into Communist China under the cover of darkness.
And the whole impossible story of Open Doors–going into all these impossible places to do all these impossible things? Andrew insists it could only have come together through the hands of God. “With God,” Andrew is fond of saying, “Even one man is a majority.”
The Second Mile
With this backstory in view, it’s easy to understand Martin’s next words.
“I wish I could’ve been there,” Martin told Andrew. “I wish I could’ve been part of the early days–to watch it all get off the ground, to see it all unfold!”
A smile crept to Brother Andrew’s face and he began to shake his head, his lips forming just one word: “No.”
“NO. Absolutely not.” He repeated.
He waved his hand, dismissing the idea.
“That work is already done. No, the biggest need in front of us is the work that is to come. You are part of this group of young people who will be our second wind. The next chapters are in your hands. You must run the Second Mile.”
Understandably, Martin was touched by Brother Andrew’s charge to this generation. And he repeated the conversation to one of my American teammates. Because he knew the rest of us–our U.S. staff, our partners at other bases, and supporters like you who make our work possible–would be inspired by Andrew’s words too.
Although my new blog was already in the works, I knew–as soon as I heard Andrew’s words–that this had to be the title of this blog. The Second Mile.
We’re Still Here
See, I’m the Senior Director of Communications at Open Doors USA. And every day, my office-mates and I still receive reports of harassment, false imprisonment, attacks, abduction and sometimes much worse from our partners around the world. And we, like the people before us, still sit around tables and around video calls–60 years later–praying through similarly impossible plans to meet the needs of Christians who find themselves in similarly impossible circumstances, against similarly impossible odds.
And we still do our best to rise to each impossible task–still relying, as Andrew did, on the God of the Impossible.
It’s important to me, then, that you know that this adventure–that started so long ago–is far from over.
That there is still a group of people, spread out across the world, who still fiercely believe in the work God began through Andrew.
That many, many of us still wake up every morning, stirred by God and eager to continue this important work.
That on a daily basis, my heart beats faster and my hands tremble to even type, as I work alongside these inspiring people. These persecuted believers and staff still risk their lives and their freedom; still endure heavy, demanding workloads; still live in and travel to hostile environments–because they are determined to help the most vulnerable Christians.
No matter what it takes.
No matter how long it takes.
I want you to be confident that the story God began in Andrew is still alive and well in the persecuted church and in us.
And that’s why I’m setting out to write this blog: to tell some of the behind-the-scenes stories of my partners and our supporters who endeavor to be the Brother Andrews of this generation.
I hope you’ll read along. But fair warning, if you’re not careful, you may just get sucked into the Second Mile too.
* Representative names and photos are sometimes used to protect identity