I just finished rereading God’s Smuggler, by Brother Andrew, founder of Opens Doors, an international non-profit ministry which supports and strengthens persecuted Christians. Brother Andrew is a man who, after completing ministry training through WEC, felt called to go behind the Iron Curtain to encourage Christians who were being persecuted under communism. Finding Bibles to be scarce in communist countries, he began smuggling Bibles across the borders into the hands of Christians, risking his life to do so.
The themes that stand out to me are:
Does God provide for our needs? Does He give us direction? Does He tell other people to assist us? Does He send us in directions we don’t always understand? Is it possible for God, through prayer, to do amazing things that our cunning could never do? Brother Andrew would say ‘yes’ to all these. The stories he tells in God’s Smuggler are quite amazing, and whether it is receiving money at the right time, or getting Bibles past border guards, the skeptic in us has to wonder, is this all really true? Really though, we could ask, do we really believe in a supernatural God who does supernatural things? Do we really trust God? Do we really believe prayer will change things? I, for one, am challenged to trust God more after reading this book.
Brother Andrew’s training and lifestyle are interesting in that, A) he believed God would provide for financial needs WITHOUT needing to solicit for funds (as in, fundraising), and B) he believed that the King supplies our needs in a Kingly manner, not in some groveling or petty way. Do we trust God enough to ask Him for money, but not ask others? Do we trust God enough to not act desperate and try to meet our own needs in some petty way (such as always trying to find a deal)? Certainly it is wise to be responsible and thrifty, and sometimes we have to humble ourselves and admit to others we have needs. BUT, do we believe God will provide? Brother Andrew tells stories that are hard to believe. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe we really don’t believe.
I have a hard time empathizing with my persecuted brethren. They are so far away, in situations I can’t comprehend. It’s surreal. And as I think through all my petty concerns, I’m awestruck at how powerful encouragement can be to a Christian being persecuted, just to know they all not alone. In some countries, they are very much alone, and being a Christian is cause for blackballing, beatings, or death. Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs, among others, provide a lot of stories and research about religious persecution today.
4. Government Tactics
It’s interesting to read about the different tactics used in the former communist countries to keep Christianity from growing. In more than one case, there were officially sanctioned churches and maybe even an official Bible. On the surface, people felt compelled to talk about how free they were. But to say otherwise was to invite serious persecution. An officially printed Bible may have been only in the hands of a few or delayed in printing. Condemning the state was a crime. Outright persecution forces people to take a stand though. Substituting the State for the Church was one of the more effective tactics, where the State comes up with its own version of Baptism, Wedding, Funerals, etc. Essentially, for youth to gain peer support, they had to participate in the state ceremonies, where the State takes the place of God. Makes me think about what we in the USA substitute for God…
Christianity and it’s belief in transcendent truth is a threat to tyranny. Whether the extreme modernism of communism, or the postmodernism of fascism (according to Gene Edward Veith), the state can’t be god if there are competing claims to truth. Yet, though some see Christianity as an old, superstitious fairy tale, it’s one people will suffer persecution for. Why? Because they believe it. And in reading this book, I realize how powerful our belief in truth is.
Much thanks to Brent for originally pointing me to this book.