Brother Andrew Biography
Son of a blacksmith, Brother Andrew didn’t even finish high school. But God used this ordinary dutch man, with his bad back, limited education, without sponsorship and no funds to do things that many said were impossible. From Yugoslavia to North Korea, Brother Andrew penetrated countries hostile to the gospel to bring bibles and encouragement to believers.
Andrew’s early years
Andy van der Bijl, who became known as Brother Andrew, was born in 1928 the son of a deaf father and a semi-invalid mother. Andrew was the third of six children and they lived in the smallest house in the village of Witte in the Netherlands.
In the book God’s smuggler, Andrew describes the impact that the death of his oldest brother ‘Bas’ had upon him. Bas, who was severely handicapped died when Andrew was just 11 years old. Andrew had wanted to die with Bas, but God hadn’t let him.
Thirst for adventure
As a child, brother Andrew was mischievous and dreamt of adventure. When Germany invaded, Andrew amused himself (and the rest of the village) by playing pranks on the occupying troops.
Notorious Commando who needed God
His thirst for adventure led him into the Dutch army at the age of 18 where he became a notorious commando. Andrew and his comrades became famous for wearing yellow straw hats in battle, their motto was: ‘get smart – lose your mind’.
The atrocities that Andrew committed as a commando haunted him and he became wrapped in a sense of guilt. Nothing he did – drinking, fighting, writing or reading letters helped him escape the strangle that guilt had upon him.
Shot in the ankle in combat, at the age of 20, his time in the army came to an abrupt end.
In hospital, bed ridden, the witness of Franciscan sisters who served the sick joyfully and the conviction of his own sin, drove him to read the Bible. Andy studied the bible while asking many questions to a friend (Thile), who had written to him throughout his time in the army. Andrew sent questions to Thile who searched for answers from her pastor and the library. His searching within the bible did not however lead him to give his life to God whilst he was still in hospital.
Andrew returns home a cripple and seeks God
Returning home a cripple to his old town, Andrew’s life was empty. He had not found the adventure he had been looking for.
Somehow however, when he return home, he developed a thirst for God. Every evening Andrew attended a meeting and during the day he would read the bible and lookup up bible verses mentioned in the sermons he had heard. At last, one evening he gave up his ego and prayed: ‘Lord if You will show me the way, I will follow You. Amen’.
God calls Brother Andrew to mission
Soon after becoming a Christian, Brother Andrew attended a an evangelistic meeting taken by a Dutch evangelist Arne Donker. At this meeting Andrew responded to the call to become a missionary. This call to share the good news of salvation started at home, with Andrew and his friend Kees holding an evangelistic event with Pastor Donker in their home town of Witte.
Before going away on mission, Andrew started work at the Ringers chocolate factory. Working in a female dominated environment which was smitten with filthy jokes, God used Andrew and another Christian, and future wife Corrie, to reach their lost co-workers. Through personal witness and inviting them to evangelistic events, many became Christians, including the ring leader of the women. The atmosphere at work changed dramatically and prayer groups were held.
Andrew excelled in his work despite being lame and Mr Ringers, the owner of the factory applauded his work and evangelistic efforts. Because of his high IQ, Andrew was trained up as a job analyst within the factory. But Andrew knew that God was calling him to mission. The big obstacle however was his lack of education.
Giving up smoking, Andrew was able to start saving to buy books. Andrew bought dictionaries and commentaries and so began studying in his spare time. One day Andrew learnt about the bible college in Glasgow run by the WEC mission. At Glasgow bible college Christians could be trained up for mission in 2 years.
Unsure of Gods will for his life, Andrew spent a Sunday afternoon alone with God, speaking aloud with God. Through this time, Andrew realised that he needed to say ‘yes’ to God who was calling him to mission. Before this, Andrew had been saying ‘Yes BUT I am lame.’ ‘Yes BUT I have no education’. Andrew said yes. In an amazing instant, Andrew made this step of yes, and in God’s grace he healed Andrews lame leg.
Andrew goes to England
Andrew applied for the Bible college in Glasgow and was accepted. Sponsored by no church, no organisation and lacking education, Andrew obeyed God and went despite being told by the love of his life at the time (Thile) that in going he would lose her.
Andrew’s place at the bible college was delayed by a year. Despite receiving a telegram from WEC telling him not to come, Andrew believed God was instructing him to go. In faith he obeyed God and left for England in 1952.
Andrew spent the first few months in England painting the WEC headquarters building (Bulstrode). While living at Bulstrode, Andrew began spending time with God at the beginning of everyday – a Quiet Time. This was something that Andrew found helpful and endeavoured to do every day of his life. Once Andrew had finished painting Bulstrode, he then moved in with Mr and Mrs Hopkins. Living with Mr and Mrs Hopkins, they developed a wonderful relationship. Andy learnt so much from the couple because they were utterly without self-consciousness and opened up their home to drunks and beggars.
In September 1953, Brother Andrew started his studies at the WEC Glasgow bible college. Over the entrance of the wooden archway of the college were the words‘have faith in God’. During the following two years whilst studying, Andrew learnt about having faith in God and put his faith into practice in numerous ways.
The Kings Way
Throughout his time at Glasgow bible college, Andy learnt of ‘The Kings Way’ in providing. Andrew saw God provide every essential need he had and always provide on time. In the book God’s Smuggler, Andrew describes how it was exciting waiting to see how God would provide at his time of need. God always provided, but did so, not according to mans logic but in a kingly matter, not in a grovelling way.
One example of God providing miraculously was when Andrew needed to pay his visa. When Andrew received a visitor the day before he needed to send off his application for a visa, he was confident that the visitor would have come to give him money to pay for the visa. But the visitor was Richard, a man who Andrew had met in the slums in Glasgow. Richard had not come to give, but to ask. Andy explained that he had no money himself to give to Richard, but as he spoke, Andy saw a Shilling on the floor. This shilling was how much Andy needed to pay for his visa which would mean he could stay at the bible school. Rather than keeping the Shilling for himself, Andrew gave the Shilling to Richard. Andy had done what he knew was right, but how would God provide? Minutes later, Andy received a letter and in it was 30 Shillings! God had provided in His way, a Kingly Manner of provision.
God calls Andrew behind the Iron curtain
Leaving bible college in 1955, God guided Andy to attend a Communist trip to Warsaw. This would be the first of many trips into Communist countries.
During his first trip to Warsaw, brother Andrew visited local churches, a bible shop and spoke with Christians in the country. Coming back to Holland, Andrew had lots of opportunities to share about his trip and how Christians lived behind the iron curtain.
Weeks later, the communist party arranged for him to attend a trip to Czechoslovakia. Andrew managed to break away from the organised trip to learn that the church was suffering and that bibles were very scarce. Officials were angry he had broken away from the official tour and had contact with Christians so he was prohibited from entering the country again. But his trip had opened his eyes to the needs of the church behind the iron curtain and this became his mission field.
In the following years, Andy dedicated his life to the needs of the church in the Communist countries. God provided Andrew with a new Volkswagen Beetle and with it Brother Andrew smuggled bibles and literature into the countries in need. Working alone for the first few years, Andrew worked tirelessly in serving the churches behind the iron curtain. When Andrew had finished one trip he would go back to Holland where he would share his experience and then go back to one of the countries. Each trip was full of stories of how God had miraculously provided and led Andrew to meet Godly believers.
Andrew marries and has a family
Although serving God in this way was exciting, Andrew felt alone and wanted a wife. In the book God’s Smuggler, Andrew describes how he prayed about a wife three times. The first two times that Brother Andrew asked for a wife God spoke to him clearly through Isaiah 54:1 “The children of the desolate are more than the children of the married”. But Andrew prayed a third time about it, and this time God answered his prayer, reminding him of a lady he worked with at the Ringers chocolate factor, Corrie van Dam. Andrew hadn’t had contact with Corrie for a long time so went to visit her. By God’s grace, Corrie was still single and over a period of several years Andrew and Corrie became great friends. Corrie and Andrew married on June 27th 1958 in Alkmaar, Netherlands.
Corrie was married to a missionary and Andrew very much continued to live like a missionary, smuggling bibles into countries closed countries. Over the years, God blessed Corrie and Andrew with five children, three boys and two girls.
Andrew starts working with others
Andrew kept serving God behind the iron curtain but the work had become difficult to do alone. Andrew thought about how helpful it would be to have a co-worker. This began with a man called Hans and slowly grew until a number of them were smuggling bibles into the communist countries.
Serving the world wide church
When the doors to communist Europe were opened in the 1960’s, Brother Andrew began to serve and strengthen the churches in the Middle East and Islamic world.
Brother Andrew receives religious liberty award in 2007
On Andy van der Bijl’s 69th birthday, he was honoured by being awarded ‘The Religious Liberty Award’ which was presented by the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF). The chairman of WEF’s Religious Liberty Commission stated:
“Brother Andrew has been the preeminent example of those from the outside who have excelled in the ministry of encouragement – the many years he has devoted himself to serving the oppressed. His exploits have become legendary as he has crossed borders carrying Bibles, which were liable to confiscation. Time after time God has blinded the eyes of the border guards, and the Bibles got through.
Brother Andrew Resources
God’s Smuggler – Book about Brother Andrew smuggling Bibles.
Brother Andrew Photos and Sermons from Brother Andrew will be added soon.
He is known as Brother Andrew because he smuggled Bibles into Communist countries back in the 1950’s and later decades. When the book about him was written, they called him that to protect his identity as he continued to go into countries like Russia, Yugoslavia, Albania, and more. He was affiliated with the Baptist church early on in his ministry. I don’t know if he stayed with them or not. He is an internationally respected missionary. The stories I want to share talk about his walk of faith. For instance, as missionaries they did not go around asking for funds. They trusted God would meet their needs and keep them safe. In amazing ways, it happened. I am sending this link to you. If the church still had a library, I bet this book was in it. 🙂 I hope I just filled out this form right at the website and you get this.
It is amazing what God can do through you, if you open up to him!
Where are Brother Andrew’s children? Are they faithful Christians? Curious….
Brother Andrew changed the whole world………….
I have just started reading ” God’s Smuggler ” and am ‘ curious ‘ about the yellow hat and the little monkey.
Do you know if there is any connection to the children’s books, Curiuos George?
I read your book last year for my Sonlight curriculum. Thank you so much for your inspirational story. It is easily one of the most gripping and beautiful stories of all time. I am a Christian and your book has strengthened my relationship with God. I admire your courage and faith in God. Thank you
I have heard of brother Andrew, several years ago. And I’m so impressed with the way God had used him! God bless you.
Bless you Brother for you faithfulness commitment and steadfastness to our loving living Lord. May all who read your writings be touched and blessed with the enthusiasm and determination to spread the gospel in our daily lives and to make reading our bible our daily bread. Blessings and love from your sister in Christ. Christine from Gravesend Kent x
I read Brother Andrew’s book God’s Smuggler and recently God’s secret agent. I enjoyed it because it brought me closer to God. He is a true man of God. May God bless him and all who r Christians.
Thank you for introducing me to the “Royal Way.” As a result, I was able to lead a team into China in the mid 80’s with 2000 Bibles for Church leaders.
Man of GOD I salute you!
Is it Brother Andrew that,carried all of his possessions in a bucket…?
I am greatly inspired by this man’s testimony of God’s power and awesome provision. My Pastor,Pastor Chris Oyakhilome makes mention of Bro Andrew’s faith.
I got to know Brother Andrew from reading a book he forwarded (VANYA).its about a Russian young soldier who had such great convictions and passions for his faith that he died in the communist russian army barracks for professing Jesus christ.he was killed
My children and I have just listened to Brother Andrew’s story. As one other person wrote above, it is so nice to hear of a “present day” missionary hero story like this. My children were so thrilled to hear he is still living. My 11 year-old asked to go see him. My children are entrhalled. I would love for them to at least write to Brother Andrew, if not hear him speak. Does anyone know where he is?
Brother Andrew, i am so inspired by your courage. So thank God for his sufficient grace for your life.
I was just talking to my Grandmother, about how one night while she was babysitting me around the age of 7 or 8, I cannot be precise. Of how she took me to a crusade in a well known place called Woodford Square in Trinida.
My Grandmother lay me on a blanket on the Square as she listen to your preaching, but she did not realize that I was also listening. Then at the end you gave an alter call, and you said, “anyone who wants Jesus to come into your heart come to these alters”.
There I ran towards you from off my blanket and ask Jesus to come into my heart and simply believed it. That probably was about 30 years ago. I praise and give God glory for you and your obedience!!!
Brother Andrew, my husband, Ralph, was staff phorographer for Wycliffe Associates in the early and mid seventies. You and Corrie Ten Boom profoundly impacted our lives. We named our third son Andrew. On his 18th b.d., we attended one of your meetings in CA and we introduced you to him. He is a successful contractor and soul-winner, praise God. Ralph and I founded ACTS Foundation, Inc. in ’89.
http://www.actsfoundation.org. In our ministering we frequently visit United Christian Broadcasting in the UK where you are dearly loved. Bless you for all the years of loving Jesus and serving Him. Susan
Brother Andrew, you are the person who have inspired me the most. I want to live a radical committement for Jesus like yours. God Bless you.
Love from Madagascar
I’ve read and re-read “God’s Smuggler” many times. What a great man of God he has been for so long and who could possibly count how many have come to know Him thanks to his tireless, selfless, brave work? May he live to be one hundred!
IN the mid 70’s while at my former Mother in laws house i saw an interview you did about trying to smuggle Bibles over the Black Sea (?) and there was a terrible storm and the little rowboat was in danger of sinking and the suitcase of bibles getting washed away and you asked God for help and he told you to do as Jesus did in the storm on the Galilee. You stood and stretched out your arms and said In the name of Jesus Christ be still. The water all around you grew calm. I had been up to the front in a Billy Graham crusade, but nothing had changed in my life, i felt no change no release from guilt. I said out loud I want what he got and BAM i was knocked to my knees and filled with the Holy Spirit. God Lead me to witness a few weeks prior to this to a man at a dinner table with friends of mine… He pushed his chair back, knelt at it with tears streaming and accepted Jesus… he went home, told his adult daughter and had a stroke a few minutes later and passed away without waking up. Why had he cried and i had nothing? Now i was transformed… SO many miracles i my life, including surviving two bouts with late stage cancer… He even allowed me to one of two folks who prayed for a women in the next bed in ICU after she died… she had been coded, called, toe tagged and sheeted when the nurse’s aid came in to pack her things, i asked her to pray with me since i had just been healed… and while we prayed, the woman came back and was fine. She had three little girls. This was in Scottsdale Memorial Hospital in September 1991. I was in for a concussion from getting knocked down and trampled while helping a teen friend who was being dragged in circle by a spooked spinning horse.
I had the faith to ask for this healing as just a few years before this i had pulled a man out from under a car that had fallen off its jack and crushed him. He moved in his clothes like jello. I had to pull him off some bolts that punctured his lungs. He was air vac’ and when he got to the hospital he was x-rayed. in the mean time i drove a stick (that was new to me) with his deaf mother and aunt and my small daughter. she and i were praying together over the wailing of the women. we got to the hospital and the nurse came rushing out of the room and soon they wheeled in a small machine and xrayed him again. Now this man was simple minded and the entire time that they are saying he would not even live to get to the hospital, he was talking and saying things like “thank you Jesus for holding my hand now, i was pretty scared for u came” and “would u please give my momma a hug for me and let her know you are taking care of me.”
This man who oozed when i hauled him out from under that car… walked out that afternoon with a cracked collar bone. i saw the big x-rays and the little x-rays… side by side with every available nurse, doctor and tech standing in a crowd around us… this happened in Buckeye Arizona, (I was on the way to a friends wedding) and i think it was 1989/1990.
The point of this is, thanks to you ministry and the way you reached out to folk – countless others have been reached and saved and seen miracles happen b the Grace of God. I will love meeting you in heaven and if you will let me, i would love to give u a big hug then. God Bless you! louise haddaway
He is such a wonderful Man he is a man of God
I am so surprised that Brother Andrews’s father was deaf. I first learned his story on his dangerous mission in Iron Curtain was in Spire’s Christian comic (I guess that it is out of publication now). Now he is in Arab countries to share the gospel hopefully he meet any deaf Arab people about Christ.
he is great
I really liked this. It is so cool to learn about other people and how they showed their faith in God. I hope I can have and show this much faith in my life!
I had never heard of Brother Andrew until I was researching for Christian Heroes for our Church Magazine……it is a welcome change to include a modern ‘Hero’ as opposed to one from years gone by, I look forward to learning more about this amazing man….Leonard
im 14 and have lived on the mission field all my life.all though its hard and tiering sometimes, Brother Andrews life really inspires me to get involved more in my parents ministry <3 God bless
Hi me too 14 and also a mission kid
God is truly faithful. I am greatly inspired. Amen
David, well done. Thank you for inviting me to read this. Your site is off to a great beginning! Soon to be filled with words declaring the works of God through his servants.
Don’t you love how Almighty God Creator of Heaven and Earth uses puny man to carry out His acts of love.
To our Muslim who commented above thank you for sharing and even though you said you hate brother Andrew, I can tell you he doesn’t hate you. And the God he serves, this God who created you and gave you life; He loves you. God is love. I pray His best for you. Brother Andrew risked his life on this earth to bring you The Word that will not return void but will prosper. And this Word says that God loves you and wishes for all men to be saved. May you experience all of God’s richest blessings. I pray you find His perfect peace.
Bro. Andrew I read your book a few years ago and it was such an encouragement to me I am reading it again now. They need to make this book into a movie. I think it could reach a lot of people who do not like to read books .
Brotherr Andrew, you probably don”t remember me but we were involved in a pastor’s rally in Guatamala, El Salvador, & Costa Rico in 1986. I was with World Missionary Press and attended with Watson Goodman, Johnny Mitchell. I admired your ministry very much and am glad to see the Lord has given you a long & productive ministry & life. In His Service, Lou Jeter
Wow, that is such an inspiring story. It definitely inspired me! Praise the Lord for the work you do! If I ever got the chance, I would love to meet you.
Brother Andrew you are a challenge to young christians like myself who are eager for real christian adventures that brings glory to GOD. Brother Andrew, i love and look forward to seeing you on the Lords day.
I am 12 and in secondary school i am reading about brother Andrew (bibble smugler ) I admire his bravery and his passion for god !
Me too! Except I am 14.
I first read the story of Brother Andrew in a comic book in the ’70s and now I am reading The Calling. I am amazed that God has used the same verse in both our lives, Rev. 3:2 “strengthen that which remains and is about to die”. I would love to meet Brother Andrew. Does he still speak in public?
Gene in Alabama
i just finished reading god’s smuggler for my 7th grade reading list it is very good.
In my life time there have been men and women whom I have looked up to and honoured,
and Brother Andrew is one such man.
His heart was so big that he would go that extra mile for humanity, what a wonderful example
for us to copy.
‘God’s special man’
Blessings Haze North Yorkshire
I had been struggling with Trust, despite my favourite verse in the Bible Psalm 25 verse 1: In you my God, I offer my prayer – in you my God I trust. I found God’s Smuggler in a church that had opened its doors to the local history society – which I wasn’t particulary interested in as I did not belong to that village, so was looking at the back of the church. I was meant to read this as it dealt with Trust – and I trust you you God, BUT ….. I have taken that BUT out of my prayers. Thank you Brother Andrew. God Bless. Carole, Leeds, Yorkshire
I read the book God’s Smuggler in the 70s. I just ordered it. I believe that the scripture that stood out to me was in this book. It was Zechariah 4:6. I repeat that a lot. I am ordering the book to make sure that that is where I read about it. You repeated it at certain times I think.
sure its time to make the thriller movie God’s smuggler, i read the book when i was in the uinversity. iam really looking forward and to market it in Africa to bless life, increase more work force for the lord extending the kingdom.
Brother Andrew, I read almost all your books and told every person, can someone make a movie of God Smuggler it is so wonderful true story?
Andrew, why don’t you make it? Or contact a Christian movie maker?
Brother Andrew, I am twelve years old, and just finished reading, “God’s Smuggler.” That was the best book I ever read! I admire your courage. I’ll be praying for you. God Bless.
Brother Andrew, I met you in Brazil in the Instituto Biblico do Norte, Garanhuns Pernambuco in 1982. After reading your book behind the Iron Curtain, and asking
you questions about the book, God blessed me through You.
Thank you so much for being a blessing sent by God !
“with four children, three boys and two girls.” Is it five children, or two boys and two girls?
Brother Andrew had three boys and one daughter.
Now that’s a brave and courageous christian
Go andrew go
What brother andrew has done has inspired me to take a new step towards the plan god has given me i really believe god has a great plan for you and me
praise and glorify the things that Brother Andrew has done
I teach Missionary biographies in Filadelfia Bible College. Its a privilege for me to teach students about the courage and passion of this God’s Smuggler. The life of Brother Andrew always renews my passion and the passion of my students.
it is indeed inspiring to read about “men like us in like passion” who sacrificed everything to ensure that others hear and receive the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am encouraged by brother Andrew to share the gospel in my country Ghana where there is freedom of speech and non-christians are generally open to the gospel. We praise the Father for the life of Brother Andrew!
I read God’s Smuggler long ago when I was a new believer. The Lord our God is a miracle working God. Great are His ways. All glory to Him! Thank you Brother Andrew.
Sovereign God – Sovereign Grace and Mercy.
There is a fantastic biography of Brother Andrew from YWAM Publishing at wordinspired.co.uk God bless
Good job Brother Andrew,
I praise the Lord for men like that.