In September 2007, I was sitting in the President Hotel in Cairo, Egypt praying if I should travel on to Lebanon. I had already canceled my flight to Beirut two weeks prior because of the political turmoil Hezbollah had brought to the country. Israel and the Syria backed army of Hezbollah had been at war with the Lebanese people caught in the middle, -particularly the Christians of Lebanon.
I had been invited to Beirut, but Hezbollah had shut down the airport and thousands of soldiers camped out at the University Center in downtown Beirut. Once the airport had re-opened, I was asked to re-book my flight.
Most people advised me not to go on this trip as unstable as the country was. However, I felt the Church needed encouragement then, not when things were okay. So I prayed and had only a window of an hour or so to make a decision as to if I should travel on to Beirut from Cairo.
I didn't want to travel there out of a sense of adventure or anything like it. Yet, I didn't want to just stay in my safety zone and not bring what encouragement I could to the believers in a difficult hour. I needed assurance from the Scripture as to if I should go ahead and travel or stay out of Lebanon. Either way would be fine as long as I had 100% confidence from Scripture.
I asked the Lord to lead me and I turned to the book of Acts. In the brand new Bible I was using, I noticed four words on the bottom of the right hand page. It said in Acts 18:9, "And the Lord said" I knew this would be the confirmation from Scripture I needed. If it said to go on to Lebanon, then I would go. If it gave me the impression to wait, then I would. I just knew I needed the surety of Scripture behind whatever decision I made.
Acts 18:9-10 went on to say, "And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, 'Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.'" I couldn't believe what I had just read! I don't think God could have spoken to me any clearer than He did that afternoon! So I booked the flights immediately and left to meet some believers in Beirut!
Well, not only did I have the help of the Holy Spirit and the surety of the ScripturesI had another great influence that afternoon. As I was making those difficult decisions that day, I was listening to a sermon by Brother Andrew! He said in that sermon, "There is no country closed to the Gospel. Anyone can get innot everyone gets outbut anyone, willing, can get in."
If you are not familiar with this 81 year old missionary, then you need to do some heavy reading on him. A small article could never give you the appreciation for such a life. I would encourage you to read his classic, "God's Smuggler" along with, "The Narrow Road", "Light Force", "Operation Desert Light", "Secret Believers" and "The Calling."
Allow me to give you just a brief introduction to the man who God chose to carry the Gospel through seemingly impossible circumstances.
Andrew van der Bijl was born May 11, 1928 in Holland. As a young boy, Hitler's Nazi army took control of Holland and occupied the town Andrew grew up in. He spent most of his days sneaking around the Nazi's and causing them a great deal of trouble. Little did he know God was preparing him to be a Bible smuggler!
He went on to missionary school in Glasgow, Scotland in the mid 1950's. Upon graduation, the president of the school told Andrew that he could never be a missionary due to his serious back problems. The president kindly explained that a frail body, such as Andrews, would never hold up under the pressures of a missionary's life.
Discouragedbut still determined, he went to a youth convention in Communist-controlled Poland in 1955. It was then that he realized the enormous need for Bibles behind the "Iron Curtain." So with very little money and an old beetle volkswagen he traveled all over Europe distributing Bibles and bringing encouragement to the persecuted Church.
Many times he would drive up to a Communist border crawling with police who would search his car. Well, because he had such a small car, there wouldn't be anywhere to hide the boxes of Bibles. So he would pile the back seat, the trunk and the floor boards with boxes of Bibles. As he drove up to the border, he would pray what he coined as the "Smuggler's Prayer." It goes like this, "Dear Lord, when you walked the earth, you made blind eyes open. Now I'm asking you to make open eyes blind." Time after time, the guards would search his vehicle to find no Bibleswhen in fact, there were hundreds!
One last story about Brother Andrew, who is now 81 and still impacting the globe with the Gospel. On the night of June 18, 1981, Brother Andrew's ministry, Open Doors, smuggled 1 million Bibles into China!
He has lived an extraordinary life dedicated to strengthening the suffering Church. Go to your local bookstore, buy the books on Brother Andrew and I promise you won't be disappointed! He is a model of the passion ordinary Christians can have for an extraordinary call to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Chad Roberts is the founder and senior pastor of Preaching Christ Church in Kingsport, TN. He has traveled to nearly 40 nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is a regular contributor to Common Ground Christian News. www.preachingchristchurch.com
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