Announcing Open Door’s as CIG’s Charity of the Year 2020
Sixty years ago, in the dark days of the Cold War and the rise of Communism, a young Dutchman, now known as Brother Andrew, was inspired to smuggle Bibles to persecuted Christians in Communist Eastern Europe.
Over decades, Brother Andrew risked his life smuggling Bibles across dangerous borders, first in his trusty Volkswagen beetle, then later in trucks, lorries – whatever it took to reach persecuted Christians who were desperately in need – earning him the title God’s smuggler.
Brother Andrew recounts on one occasion, he approached the Romanian border in his car, which was packed with illegal Bibles. He saw the guards stop the car at the front of the line. He watched, in anticipation, as the vehicle’s owners were forced to take out all of the car’s contents and spread them on the ground for inspection. Each car that followed received the same treatment, with the fourth car’s inspection lasting the longest. The guard took a full hour to sift through it, including removing hubcaps, taking the engine apart, and even removing the seats.
“Dear Lord,” Brother Andrew remembers praying, “What am I going to do?” As he prayed, a bold idea came to Brother Andrew. “I know that no amount of cleverness on my part can get me through this border search. Dare I ask for a miracle? Let me take some of the Bibles out and leave them in the open where they will be seen. Putting the Bibles out in the open would truly be depending on God, rather than his own intelligence, he thought. So when the guards ushered Andrew forward, he did just this. “I handed him my papers and started to get out. But his knee was against the door, holding it closed.”
And then, the almost unbelievable happened. The guard looked at Brother Andrew’s passport and abruptly waved him on. “Surely thirty seconds had not passed,” he remembers. Brother Andrew started the engine and began pulling away, all the while wondering if he was supposed to pull over so the car could be taken apart and examined. “I coasted forward, my foot poised above the brake. Nothing happened. I looked out the rear mirror. The guard was waving the next car to a stop, indicating to the driver that he had to get out.”
Behind the Iron Curtain, Brother Andrew discovered churches desperately in need of Bibles, support and prayer. Above all, he found a group of Christians who felt isolated and alone and who thought the rest of the world had forgotten them.
Brother Andrew went on to found Open Doors, which now supports persecuted Christians in over 60 countries. And Brother Andrew shares tale after tale of miraculous intervention in his bestseller, God’s Smuggler, which went on to be translated into thirty-five languages, and inspired a generation.
One such person, inspired by Brother Andrew, was the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP. Just after he became Foreign Secretary in 2018, Mr Hunt shared that during a house move that year, he had come across a copy of God’s Smuggler, which he had read as a child. A few months later, he announced a groundbreaking independent review into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s support for persecuted Christians. This review revealed some shocking facts – that Christians are the most persecuted faith group in the world, with a staggering 245 million Christians facing high or extreme levels of persecution in 2019. The report also shared that the needs of persecuted Christians – political will and solutions to conflicts; fair laws; protection and security, justice and efforts to tackle discrimination; and fair access to employment rights and education – is at a scale and severity that goes beyond the support the church can provide and needs serious intervention from governments. Persecuted Christians often feel very deeply that they are not forgotten and that someone cares.
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This is why Christians in Government is delighted that Open Doors will be our Charity of the Year 2020. We would like to learn about Christian persecution and see what more we can do. We are also inspired to follow in Brother Andrew’s footsteps. One of the favourite sayings of Brother Andrew, who is still alive aged 91, is “The Bible is full of ordinary people who went to impossible places and did wondrous things simply because they decided to follow Jesus.” He also says, ‘the real calling, is not a certain place or career but to everyday obedience. And that call is extended to every Christian, not just a select few.’
Debbie, from the Department for Education, says ‘Being Korean and having friends who have experienced the cruelties of the North Korean regime first-hand, I am passionate about praying for and standing with our brothers and sisters who risk their lives every day for following Jesus. Their lives and testimonies remind me that Jesus is worth following at any cost, something I too often forget. I believe as much as we need their courage and zeal for Christ, they need our prayer, voices and support. So I’m really excited that CIG is partnering with Open Doors to serve the persecuted church. I hope it will provoke us as civil servants to risk more for Christ, to take courage and use our positions of influence for an everlasting cause and kingdom.’
Here are some ways you can get involved:
- Please come to the launch of the partnership, 12:45 – 1:30pm, Monday 20 January, Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, where we will be joined by Open Doors and Sunil, a church leader from Sri Lanka who was a ‘first responder’ to the Sri Lanka church bombings on Easter day 2019.
- Dial in to the quarterly CIG prayer conference meeting on Friday 31 January from 12:45 pm to 1:30 pm, which will include an Open Doors focus. Dial-in details are: Dial: 033 3443 3443, Room Number: 90948273 #, PIN: 7631 #
- We will be sharing more about our partnership with Open Doors through our comms and blogs. If you would like more detailed updates so you can get more involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Invite Open Doors to come and speak at your departmental groups. Group leaders can email email@example.com to arrange this.