4 Lessons from the Life of Brother Andrew

    I never met Brother Andrew. But that’s something about writing a book—you can impact hundreds, thousands, even millions of people whom you will never meet this side of Heaven. And such is the case with Brother Andrew’s book, God’s Smuggler. Through that book, I was introduced to his remarkable story.  

  Andrew was born the son of a blacksmith in a little village in the Netherlands. As a little boy, Andrew dreamed of adventure. During the Nazi occupation, he put sugar in the gas tank of the German lieutenant's car and set off fireworks dangerously close to the Nazi guards.  

   When he was old enough, he joined the Dutch army and went to fight the revolutionaries in the East Indies. While there, he saw and did things, horrible things, that haunted him. He turned to drinking and wanted to die. But he didn’t die. He was only wounded.  

   While in the hospital, he read for the first time the Bible his mother had given him before he left Holland. He went back home and reverted to his old ways, but then while in a military rehabilitation center, he again read the Bible. He experienced a deep hunger for more of the Word and found a church service to attend every day. Then one stormy night, while lying in bed, he surrendered his life to Christ.  

   Soon he knew that God wanted him to be a missionary. His first mission field was a chocolate factory close to home. Eventually, he went to the WEC missionary training college in Glasgow, Scotland. Shortly after graduation, he went on a trip to the Communist country of Poland. And that was the beginning of his life’s work—taking Bibles and a message of encouragement to Christians in persecuted countries.  

   He eventually married a nurse named Corrie and they had a happy marriage and five children. And he continued to travel to Communist countries, bringing hope to the people there. What started as one man making a few trips bringing a few Bibles into a few Communist countries grew and grew until Andrew had a team that brought hundreds, and eventually even thousands of Bibles to persecuted Christians.  

   After Brother Andrew’s death on September 27, 2022, my family and I listened to a message by Eric Ludy in which he shared some of the lessons he had learned from Andrew’s life (listen to it here.) That inspired me to write up my own tribute to Brother Andrew, so here it is, four lessons from his life.  

1. Do what needs to be done.     Shortly before beginning his training at the WEC, Andrew stayed with the Hopkinses, an elderly couple in England. Mrs. Hopkins was bedridden much of the time, and Mr. Hopkins operated a contracting business and a storefront mission. So on his first day with them, Andrew was left to himself. He found a mop and cleaned the kitchen floor. Moving on to the bathroom, he found the dirty laundry and washed it. When the clothes were dry, he ironed them. And then he cooked dinner. He was used to doing such things at home. “...anyone in my family, male or female, would have done the same,” he said. 

   I think this characteristic of noticing what needed to be done and doing it helped him in his later ministry. When he visited Christians in persecuted countries later, he noticed what they needed and found a way to provide for that need. It was a lot harder to smuggle hundreds of Bibles into Soviet bloc countries than it was to mop the floor for the Hopkinses. But learning to do simple things well is often how God trains us to do more difficult things well, a lesson I know I need to be reminded of.  

  “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10 

  1. 2. Have childlike faith.  

  2.    In 1957, the government of Yugoslavia only allowed visitors to bring in items for their personal use. Printed material was especially suspect. And Brother Andrew was pulling up to the Yugoslav border with a car and luggage bursting at the seams with Bibles, parts of Bibles, and Christian tracts. “Lord,” he prayed, “in my luggage I have Scripture that I want to take to Your children across this border. When you were on earth, You made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the guards see those things You do not want them to see.”  

  3.    Andrew drove up to the barrier, and the two guards began the inspection. One guard asked Andrew to take out his suitcase. Andrew took it out and opened the lid, and the guard lifted up some shirts that lay on top. There, in plain sight, was a pile of tracts. How was God going to handle this? Andrew wondered. He struck up a conversation about the weather with the other guard, until finally, he could bear the suspense no longer and turned around. The first guard wasn’t even looking at the suitcase but listening to the conversation! When Andrew turned around, the guard caught himself and asked, “Well, then, do you have anything else to declare?”  

  4.   “Only ‘small’ things,” said Andrew.  

  5.    “We won’t bother with them,” said the guard. And Andrew was on his way with all of the Bibles and tracts still in his car!  

  1.    This was only the first of many times that God honored Andrew's simple, childlike, faith-filled prayer and “made seeing eyes blind.” How good it is to remind ourselves that God is a good Father, and we are to simply trust Him as a small child trusts his or her parents.  

  2.    “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Luke 18:17 

  3. 3. Love the brethren.

  4.    Brother Andrew’s ministry was centered around loving our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. The work wasn’t easy—it involved driving long distances on bad roads, and he had severe back pain. But when he felt like quitting, something always happened to push him on again. He would receive a letter from a Christian perhaps in Bulgaria or Romania telling of some new need.  

  5.    How easy it is to forget that all around the world our brothers and sisters in Christ face harassment, imprisonment, and sometimes even death from their families, communities, and the government. How easy it is also to fail to reach out to our fellow Christians in our local communities and even in our own families. May God open our eyes to the opportunities we have to show love to our fellow Christians.  

  6.    “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 

  1. 4. Treasure God’s Word. 

  2.    And finally, Brother Andrew’s story reminds me to treasure the gift of God’s Word. Having my own copy of the Bible in my own language is a privilege many Christians have not had. Andrew tells of visiting large churches where only a few people had Bibles. During the service, they would hold them up for others to read along. He also tells of churches where not a single member owned a Bible.  

  3.    One pastor he met in Ukraine did not have a Bible. While having a discussion with the pastor and elders after the service, Andrew pulled out his Bible to look up the verses they were referencing. The discussion over, he laid his Bible on the table.  

  4.    The pastor picked it up tenderly, reverently. “You know brother,” he said, “I do not have a Bible.”

  5.    Andrew had one Ukrainian Bible left, a special pocket-sized edition he’d traded for with another Ukrainian congregation, intending to take it home to show the Bible society so he could get more printed. The Bible society would just have to take his word for it, he decided. He ran out to his car, grabbed the Bible, and gave it to the pastor. When Andrew left, his chest hurt from all the hugs he’d received from the elders who were overjoyed that their pastor now had his own Bible.  

  6. “I rejoice at Your word 

  7. As one who finds great treasure.” Psalm 119:162  


  Well, I hope you were encouraged by those four lessons from the life of Brother Andrew!  

As always, remember, “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it,” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).  

All for Him,  

Savannah Jane 


God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill  

Note: Because of his work, Andrew found it necessary for safety reasons to not use his full name, therefore he began going by the name, “Brother Andrew.”  

Pictures taken from OpenDoorsYouth.org


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