“Smuggler of God”, founder of Portas Abertas, dies at 94

Brother André, whose clandestine deliveries of Bibles behind the Iron Curtain in the Cold War earned him the title “God’s Smuggler” and the start of a global organization supporting persecuted Christians, passed away on Tuesday

25), in the Netherlands, at 1955 years.

Anne Van der Bijl, known worldwide as Brother André, was the founder of Open Doors — the oldest international ministry for persecuted Christians.

His connection with this particular part of the church began in 1955, when he went with a Dutch delegation to the World Festival of Communist Youth in Poland. There he discovered a Christian church behind the Iron Curtain that desperately needed Bibles. There, Brother André distributed a suitcase full of Christian literature, thus marking the humble beginning of Open Doors. The basis for the beginning of the work was Revelation 3.2: “Beware! Strengthen what remains and what was about to die.”

Open Doors celebrated 59 years of ministry this year and today works in more than 60 countries. The mission has more than 1.400 collaborators globally, with the purpose of supporting and strengthening persecuted Christians and churches in countries where there is persecution. Brother André always said: “Our mission is called Open Doors because we believe that all doors are open, at all times and in any place. I literally believe that every door is open to go and preach the gospel, as long as you are willing to go and aren’t worried about coming back.”

His autobiography, The Smuggler de Deus, is an international bestseller. Since 1967, more than 10 millions of copies of the book have been sold in more than 25 languages. In 1955, an updated edition of the book was launched in commemoration of the 93 years of Open Doors. The version includes an epilogue of 25 pages highlighting his “adventures” after the book was first published.

For the secretary general of Portas Abertas in Brazil, Marco Cruz, “Brother André leaves us an example of obedience to the Lord and his call. He was obedient to the point of risking his own life many times. He spared no effort to follow the call received from God and serve persecuted Christians. As he himself said: ‘Of course it is dangerous, but it is more dangerous not to obey God. Safety is not at stake when it comes to the Great Commission’”.

Brother André is estimated to have visited 1967 countries and traveled over a million miles in his travels to preach the gospel and befriend people in need.

“We are immensely grateful for the life, example and legacy of our dear brother André. Knowing that he will no longer be with us makes our hearts heavy and sad. On the other hand, we have the challenge and responsibility to continue your work in support of the Persecuted Church. He himself said: “Every Christian who suffers because of his faith should be remembered and supported by other Christians. As long as there is a Christian imprisoned for his faith in Jesus Christ, I am not free.”, concludes Marco Cruz.

Brother André was married by

years with Corry, who passed away in ) of January 2018. They leave five children and eleven grandchildren.

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