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God’s Smuggler: Andrew, the evangelist who smuggled Bibles into Communist Countries, has died

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Anne van der Bijl, a Dutch evangelical known to Christians worldwide as Brother Andrew, the man who smuggled Bibles into closed Communist countries, has died at the age of 94.

Van der Bijl became famous as “God’s smuggler” when the first-person account of his missionary adventures—slipping past border guards with Bibles hidden in his blue Volkswagen Beetle—was published in 1967. God’s Smuggler was written with evangelical journalists John and Elizabeth Sherrill and published under his code name “Brother Andrew.” It sold more than 10 million copies and was translated into 35 languages.

The book inspired numerous other missionary smugglers, provided funding to van der Bilj’s ministry Open Doors, and drew evangelical attention to the plight of believers in countries where Christian belief and practice were illegal. Van der Bijl protested that people missed the point, however, when they held him up as heroic and extraordinary.

“I am not an evangelical stuntman,” he said. “I am just an ordinary guy. What I did, anyone can do.”

No one knows how many Bibles van der Bijl took into Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, East Germany, Bulgaria, and other Soviet-bloc countries in the decade before the success of God’s Smuggler forced him into the role of figurehead and fundraiser for Open Doors. Estimates have ranged into the millions. A Dutch joke popular in the late 1960s said, “What will the Russians find if they arrive first at the moon? Brother Andrew with a load of Bibles.”

Van der Bijl, for his part, did not keep track and did not think the exact number was important.

“I don’t care about statistics,” he said in a 2005 interview. “We don’t count. … But God is the perfect bookkeeper. He knows.”

Van der Bijl was born in the Netherlands in 1928, the son of a poor blacksmith and an invalid mother. He was 12 when the German military invaded the neutral country in World War II, and he spent the occupation, as he recounted to John and Elizabeth Sherrill, hiding in ditches to avoid being pressed into service by Nazi soldiers. When famine hit the Netherlands in 1944, van der Bijl, like so many Dutch people, ate tulip bulbs to survive.

After the war, van der Bijl joined the Dutch army and was sent to Indonesia as part of the colonial force attempting to quash the Indonesian struggle for independence. He was excited about the adventure until the shooting started and he killed people. By his own account, van der Bijl was involved in the massacre of an Indonesian village, indiscriminately killing everyone who lived there.

He was haunted, after, by the sight of a young mother and nursing boy killed by the same bullet. He started wearing a crazy straw hat into the jungle, hoping it would get him killed. Van der Bijl adopted the motto, “Get smart—lose your mind.”

He was shot in the ankle and started reading a Bible his mother had given him during his convalescence. After he returned to the Netherlands, he started compulsively going to church, and in early 1950, he surrendered himself to God.

“There wasn’t much faith in my prayer,” van der Bijl said. “I just said, ‘Lord if you will show me the way, I will follow you. Amen.’”

Van der Bijl committed his life to ministry and went to Scotland to study at the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade’s missionary school in 1953. Speaking to Christianity Today in 2013, he remembered one critical lesson from a Salvation Army officer who was teaching about street evangelism. The older man said most would-be evangelists give up too soon, since the Holy Spirit has only prepared the heart of one person out of 1,000.

“Instantly my heart revolted. I said to myself, ‘What a waste,’” van der Bijl recalled. “Why go and spend your energy on 999 who were not going to respond? God knows it and the devil knows it and he laughs because after the first 1,000 people I give up in despair.”

He determined he would ask God to guide him to the one person who was ready for the gospel. Instead of spending his time calculating and strategizing, he would follow the guidance of the Spirit.

A short time later, he felt God speak to him through Revelation 3:2: “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die.” Van der Bijl understood he was supposed to go support the church in Communist-controlled countries. In 1955, he took a government-controlled tour of Poland but snuck away from his group to visit underground groups of believers. On a second trip to Czechoslovakia, he saw that churches in Communist countries needed Bibles.

“I promised God that as often as I could lay my hands on a Bible, I would bring it to these children of his behind the wall that men built,” van der Bijl later recalled, “to every … country where God opened the door long enough for me to slip through.”

In 1957, he made his first smuggling trip across the border of a Communist country, entering Yugoslavia with tracts, Bibles, and portions of Bibles hidden in his blue Volkswagen. As he watched the guards search the cars in front of him, he prayed what he would later call “the Prayer of God’s Smuggler”:

“Lord, 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.”

Van der Bijl followed his early success in Yugoslavia with more trips and eventually even smuggled Bibles into the Soviet Union. He recruited other Christians to help him, and they developed strategies for avoiding the attention of border guards and secret police. Sometimes the smugglers would travel in pairs, disguised as honeymooning couples. Sometimes they would use out-of-the-way border crossings. They would experiment with different ways of hiding Scripture in their small, inconspicuous cars. Always, they would follow the leading of the Spirit, and no one was ever arrested.

Bible smuggling was criticized by a number of Christian organizations, including the Baptist World Alliance, the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, and the American Bible Society. They considered it dangerous—especially for the Christians living in Communist countries—and ineffective. Sensational stories were good for raising money, the critics alleged, but little else.

Cold War historians have debated the impact of Bible smuggling on Communist regimes. Francis D. Raška writes that it was “probably significant,” but “evidence of the exploits is shaky, and prone to exaggeration and personal aggrandizement.” There is at least some evidence that the KGB kept close tabs on van der Bijl’s activity and may have had informants inside his network, according to Raška.

After the success of God’s Smuggler, van der Bijl left smuggling to other less famous Christians. He shifted his attention to fundraising for Open Doors and ministry opportunities in Muslim countries. When the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, he became an outspoken critic of American evangelicals’ support for the war on terror. Christians, he said, could only put their trust in military intervention if they had given up faith in missions.

When speaking to American audiences in the early 2000s, van der Bijl regularly asked Christians if they had prayed for Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda. When US forces killed bin Laden in 2011, he expressed sadness.

“I believe everyone is reachable. People are never the enemy—only the devil,” van der Bijl said. “Bin Laden was on my prayer list. I wanted to meet him. I wanted to tell him who is the real boss in the world.”

At the time of his death, the ministry van der Bijl founded was helping Christians in more than 60 countries. Open Doors distributes 300,000 Bibles and 1.5 million Christian books, training materials, and discipleship manuals every year. The group also provides relief, aid, community development, and trauma counseling, while advocating for persecuted Christians around the globe.

When asked if he had any regrets about his life’s work, van der Bijl said, “If I could live my life over again, I would be a lot more radical.”


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Do Christians Really Donate More? Bible’s Stunning Impact on Charitable Giving Revealed in Fascinating New Study

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As the debate over the impact of Christianity on charitable behavior forges on, a new study reveals Scripturally-engaged Americans are “far more likely than others to donate to charity.”

In fact, the majority of these individuals — people who interact consistently with Scripture and allow it to shape their lives and relationships — report giving to such causes, according to the eighth chapter of “The State of the Bible” report.

“Americans who are engaged with the Bible gave $145 billion to charitable causes in 2021,” a statement from the American Bible Society read. “And … Practicing Christians, those who are actively living out their faith, are much more likely to give.”

The results are pretty stunning when comparing people engaged in the Bible with those who are disengaged as well as the so-called Moveable Middle, a group falling between those dynamics.

Bible-engaged Americans gave a total of $145 billion to charities in 2021, amounting to about $2,907 per household. The same figure for the Bible disengaged was just $924.

To underscore the monumental nature of that giving, consider that Scripturally engaged Americans account for just 19% of adults yet give 44% of every dollar donated.

The finer details point to the fascinating nature of this group’s generosity.

“People who are Scripture-engaged gave six-times as much to churches as those in the Movable Middle and 13-times as much as those who are Bible-disengaged,” a statement explained. “When it comes to non-church giving, Scripture-engaged Americans gave 9% more than the Bible-disengaged and 165% more than the Movable Middle.”

Giving among active believers is, thus, much higher than for other cohorts.

Dr. John Farquhar Plake, director of ministry intelligence for the American Bible Society, said his organization’s research continues to show “a strong correlation between charitable giving and human flourishing.” This is particularly relevant among Christians surveyed in the annual report.

“Engaging with the Bible and actively living out our faith doesn’t simply mean reading the words in the pages of Scripture — rather, it is a transformation of the heart that inspires us to love and live well,” Plake said.

The results for this chapter of the “State of the Bible” were collected from 2,598 phone and online responses from American adults in January 2022.

Atheists will often decry the Bible and its contents, yet study after study shows the strong benefits faith offers individuals and, in turn, the culture at large.

As Faithwire reported, an earlier chapter from the “State of the Bible” report showed “Americans who consistently read and apply the Bible report greater levels of hope and resilience.” Read more about the Bible’s significant impact on the faithful here.
Sources:faithwire

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PASTOR JACOB MATHEW – 57 MEMORIAL SERVICE 12/02/2022

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For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel,and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We walk by faith, and not by sight! Pastor Jacob Mathew (57 ) has been promoted to his eternal home and went to be with Jesus on 11/24/2022 . He served as the assistant Pastor of the Mizpah Church of God. Pullad. He lived a life that exampled Jesus Christ, a life of servitude,faith,and love. He will be missed by his family, his wife Shiney,daughter Jesna Jacob and son Joel Jacob.

We kindly request for prayers at this time for the family. He is Survived by his mother, Thankamma Mathew, sister Mary Mathew, and brother Paul Mathew and family.


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Christian Organization Wins Legal Battle, Will Be Allowed to Hire Christians

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Just two months after the Wyoming Rescue Mission filed its federal lawsuit against state and federal agencies for threatening to punish the Christian nonprofit for hiring employees who share the ministry’s religious beliefs, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced they reached a favorable settlement in the case.

As part of the settlement, state officials acknowledged that the rescue mission, as a religious organization, is free to hire like-minded employees who share the ministry’s religious beliefs and mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through its homeless shelter, clothing voucher service, faith-based recovery programs, and life-rebuilding assistance to Casper residents.

“The First Amendment protects Wyoming Rescue Mission’s freedom to hire those who share its beliefs without being threatened and investigated by the government,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jacob Reed. “We’re pleased to favorably settle this case for the rescue mission so it can continue its critical work of serving some of Casper’s most vulnerable citizens and spreading the Gospel.”

On behalf of the faith-based organization, ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Wyoming Rescue Mission v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in the US District Court for the District of Wyoming.

According to court documents, the mission requires all employees to agree with its religious beliefs. Before being forced to remove it, the mission’s “Career Opportunities” webpage explicitly stated that “Employees are expected to commit to the precepts in our Statement of Faith, and to help the Mission fulfill its mission statement, vision statement, and ends statement.”

And the Mission’s employment application says: “The Mission considers every position one of ministry and a vital and valued part of our team. Therefore, it is essential that all employees of the Mission have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and subscribe to our Statement of Faith and Ministry Principles. Employees must be willing to lead and/or participate in Bible study, prayer, devotions, and sharing the Gospel.”

As CBN News reported, in 2020, the mission decided not to hire a self-proclaimed non-Christian for one of its Rescued Treasures Thrift Store associate positions. Included with this job is the responsibility of teaching the mission’s Discipleship Recovery Program guests how to spread the gospel and model Jesus Christ.

The lawsuit explains that the mission advised the applicant during the pre-screen interview that it is a Christian ministry and that all employees must agree with the Mission’s statement of faith and demonstrate Christian principles in their life and work as a condition of employment. The applicant responded that she did not have any faith.

The non-Christian applicant then filed a discrimination charge against the mission with Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to Decision Magazine.

State officials conducted a 16-month-long investigation to determine if the mission engaged in discrimination as prohibited by law.

The officials determined the mission likely violated the Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act of 1965 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for refusing to hire the non-Christian applicant, ignoring the fact that neither of those laws applies to faith-based organizations’ religiously based employment decisions.

After ADF attorneys filed suit, the government capitulated and agreed the mission can hire only “those individuals who agree with and live out the mission’s religious beliefs and practices.”

“Like-minded employees who share the mission’s purpose to spread the Gospel and uplift the Casper community by providing free meals, shelter, recovery programs, and job training are essential for the Wyoming Rescue Mission to continue its important work,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “Wyoming officials have rightly recognized that both state and federal laws protect religious organizations’ ability to hire those who share their beliefs.”

As part of the settlement in Wyoming Rescue Mission v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agreed to pay the rescue mission’s attorneys’ fees. In light of the settlement, the court dismissed the EEOC from the case and signed a consent decree settling the case with the state.

A press release from the ADF revealed that in 2021, the mission served 60,862 free meals to the public; provided 41,037 beds for men, women, and children; enrolled 92 Discipleship Recovery Program participants; offered 5,597 case management sessions, and gave 1,208 thrift store vouchers worth $39,649.92 that provided free clothing and essentials to families and guests in need.

John G. Knepper, one of more than 4,600 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, served as local counsel for the Wyoming Rescue Mission.
Sources:BREAKING CHRISTIAN NEWS

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