Brother Andrew with his Beetle car in Yugoslavia
In 1955 Brother Andrew started to encourage the church in Eastern Europe and Russia. 65 years later Open Doors is ministering in over sixty countries worldwide to support persecuted Christians. A new trend in the ministry are the unprecedented opportunities to provide training and encouragement online.
July 15, 1955 is the date connected to Brother Andrew’s first trip to Poland. He went to evangelize, but he senses God’s calling to stand up for a church which was about to be crushed by communism. “When you come again, please bring Bibles with you”, the pastor in Warsaw said.
Hundreds of trips followed in a VW beetle, which served for 35 years as the logo of the ministry. In the early years Bibles and Christian books were transported openly. Later countries in the Eastbloc closed their borders for Christian literature. Then the ministry was on a crossroads. Should it stop because the governments ordered such? Or should the distribution of Bibles continue, but then how? The latter was chosen and Open Doors became well-known for Bible Smuggling. Hundreds of couriers came to Ermelo in the Netherlands for briefing and instructions. Bible smugglers picked up a camper or camper trailer in which sometimes 1,100 Bibles were hidden. Christians in Eastern Europe and Russia finally received the Bibles they had been praying for years.
A trip I will never forget
Spokesman Klaas Muurling from ODNL about that time: “Our office looked like a dovecot with all those couriers coming and going. Everyday we prayed for open doors at the borders and time and again the Lord answered our prayers. He was also close by when my wife and I were arrested at the Russian border. Three days we were held and interrogated. A trip I will never forget.”
At the end of the seventies Brother Andrew said that the Islam would be a greater threat for the church than communism had ever been. In the nineties during a prayer campaign for the church in the Muslim world those words became true. Iran turned into a Islamic Republic and also elsewhere in the Arabic world persecution of Christians grew. Paradoxically persecution and church growth go hand in hand.
In the beginning Bible distribution was the most known and most important task of Open Doors. Later persecuted Christians requested training on how to understand Scripture which was followed by training on how to cope with persecution. After that emergency relief, finances and medicine were supplied through our Socio Economic Development.
Online contact offers new opportunities
In 2019 Open Doors reached millions of believers through social media and online channels. “Specifically where Christians are isolated and hard to reach, online contact offers new opportunities”, says Open Doors Netherlands Director Maarten Dees.
The use of social media and online platforms increases to contact persecuted Christians. In the Gulf region it is difficult to visit believers due to increasing pressure from the government. The need for printed Bibles and Christian books is replaced by offering online materials. In 2019 the number of believers reached online in this region was about 9,000 per day.
After 50 years School is alive and kicking. Director Dees is surprised. “We are thankful that the Lord God has blessed our ministry through the years. Thanks to His provision and the support and prayers of thousands of Christians we could do this work. And to continue doing so we are renovating our old office in the hope to be of continued blessing for the persecuted church. And from 2021 onwards we are inviting groups of believers to experience 65 years of Open Doors with us in our new visitors center in Ermelo. It will strengthen their involvement with the persecuted Christians.”
In the days to come, Open Doors needs you support to serve persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries worldwide.