From his early years growing up in Holland, to his coming to Christ, to his missions into communist countries in the 1950's and 60's.
I loved so many things about this book.
So I'm going to share about it in a little different way. I've broken my thoughts up into six themes that stood out for me in his story.
The Gospel, Hope, Joy, Prayer, Longing and Normalcy.
1. The Gospel
I love how God uses ordinary people to share His truth. All He asks for is a willing heart. Since childhood, Brother Andrew always wanted to be a spy. The books starts out this way:
"From the time I first put on wooden shoes- klompen we call them in Holland - I dreamed of derring-do. I was a spy behind the lines, I was a lone scout in enemy territory, I crept beneath barbed wire while tracer bullets scorched the air about me."
God would literally use this adventurous and daring boy to bring the gospel, in the pages of the Bible, to hundreds and thousands of people in communist countries.
God can change and work through anyone. Never give up hope for that loved one who doesn't know Him. He changed and worked through a rebellious and mischievous Dutch boy. After quite a struggle, he finally gave his life over to the Lord. He says here of that moment, on a stormy night in 1950:
"What was it I was hanging on to? What was it that was hanging on to me? What was standing between me and freedom?
The rest of the house was asleep. I lay on my back with my hands under my head staring at the darkened ceiling and all at once, very quietly, I let go of my ego. With a new note in the wind yelling at me not to be a fool, I turned myself over to God - lock, stock, and adventure. There wasn't much faith in my prayer. I just said, 'Lord, if You will show me the way, I will follow You. Amen.'
It was as simple as that."
When we think of dangerous missions we rarely think of joy, but not with Brother Andrew.
The joy of the Lord shone throughout his story. When he would met another Christian he was overjoyed, when he was able to find an underground church he could preach at, he was overjoyed, and when he could give someone a Bible in a country the forbid them, he was overjoyed. He doesn't actually say this, but I felt his joy through his experiences. It was so encouraging.
One time in Russia he attended a church were the pastor didn't even own a Bible. During services the pastor would borrow a Bible from one of the few in the service who had one, then hand it back. Brother Andrew was all out of Bibles by this time, but suddenly realized he had one more...
"All of the ones we had brought with us were gone - and then I remembered. The little Ukrainian pocket Bible! 'Wait!' I shouted. I jumped up from my chair. The Bible societies would just have to take my word for it. I raced outside to my car, threw open the door, got the little Bible from under the seat, and ran back to the study.
'Here.' I shoved the Bible into the pastor's hand. 'This is for you. To keep.'
The translator repeated the words, but still the pastor did not understand.
'Whose is it?' he said.
'It's yours! To keep, to own.'
When Hans and I left that day, our chests ached from the embraces of that group of elders. For now their pastor had a Bible of his very own. A Bible he did not have to return at the end of the service. A Bible to pick up whenever he wanted. A Bible to read and to love."
Prayer is a huge part of missions. Really there is no missions without it. Prayer seemed to be second nature to Brother Andrew. He talked about it like it was just part of life.
One time he was carrying Romanian Bibles in his car and got to the Communist Romanian border with just a few cars in front of him. He thought: "Well, I'm in luck. Only half a dozen cars. This will go swiftly." But when the first two cars in the line up took 40-60 minutes each to get through, he started to worry.
"Dear Lord,what am I going to do? Any serious inspection will show up those Romanian Bibles right away. Lord, 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. Then, Lord, I cannot possibly be depending on my own stratagems, can I? I will be depending utterly upon You."
When it was his turn the border officer looked at his papers and then waved him immediately on! No more than 30 seconds!
So many more wonderful stories of prayers honored and answered from this willing and humble heart. God is good.
Brother Andrew longed for a wife. He prayed and felt God was steering him towards a single life, but still his longing for a wife grew. One evening he prayed:
"Lord, in a year I'll be thirty. You made a helpmeet for man, and somehow I have not found my own. Lord, I'm going to ask You for something, I ask You tonight for a wife."
He wrote the date down in his Bible, April 12, 1957.
"And five days later the answer had come. In my Quiet Time I had suddenly known - with quite uncanny certainty - that Isaiah 54:1 was God's reply to me...
'The children of the desolate are more than the children of the married.'
Again and again I read the words, trying to apply them to myself, trying to rejoice in God's will. I might feel desolate, but He was going to give me more 'children,' spiritual children, than I could ever have as a flesh-and blood father. I had written the answer beside the request.
But now as I drained my coffee cup beside a field of spring flowers, I knew that spiritual children were not at all what I had in mind. I wanted real, live noisy, running-and -jumping children, with sticky faces and wooden shoes to mend after fights. Above all, I wanted a wife, a living, loving human being who would make my life one fabric, instead of this patchwork quilt of places and people based nowhere, instead of this heading home to no one.
Suppose I asked Him again, right now?"
He did and God answered him again with the same answer! Isaiah 54:1
'The children of the desolate are more than the children of the married.'
He then prayed:
"I don't like the message, Lord, but at least it's clear."
Brother Andrew laid down his will for God's will and because of it, God later blessed him with a wonderful wife and 5 children. I love this. It reminded me of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God and how God then blessed him for it. That's what God wants, our willingness and obedience.
I love the normalcy of Brother Andrew's life. God used a regular guy. Someone who desired a wife and family, a guy who longed for adventure, and a guy who appreciated the simple things, like God's creation all around him.
He simply follows Christ and Christ does all the work.
These days many people chase after miracles. They want to see evidence. They listen to this guy and that guy. They want the supernatural experiences and power from on high, but while they are doing this they are missing the simple miracles of the everyday normal. Never realizing each breath they breathe is a miracle, every sunset and sunrise is a miracle, every mountain they see is a miracle and in Brother Andrew case, each Bible he hands over to someone who needs it, is a miracle. Everything God does is a miracle. God shows Himself in the everyday normal.
This is how I felt reading this book. God working through a normal everyday guy.
A guy with simply a willing heart to follow Christ.
I thought I'd share this video of Brother Andrew speaking. I love what he says at the end. Something we all need to be reminded of. We as Christians are called to share the gospel, not attack other religions, not to put down others beliefs, but to lift the name of Jesus.
Buy it HERE on Amazon