This week I’ve been re-reading ‘God’s Smuggler,’ by Brother Andrew. Has anyone else read it? I’m enjoying it, and remembering the first time I read it, back in the early 1980’s. I was about 13 at the time, and I’d just heard about Jesus at the Christian group at high school. I was completely astounded by the love of God for each of us, and I wanted to find out more. So I sat down on my bed and I read through the New Testament, and then I read every Christian biography I could find at the time, including ‘God’s Smuggler’, ‘The Hiding Place’, ‘Chasing the Dragon’, ‘Run Baby Run’, and ‘Joni’. It was a great selection of books! And I came to see that following Jesus might mean laying down my life, or my next brilliant plan, out of love for God, and his world, and it might mean sacrifice and cost, and it might even mean frightening border crossings in a blue Volkswagen full of Bibles. It could mean all of that, and more, out of obedience and love for God, because that’s how much we’ve been loved.
Reading ‘God’s Smuggler’ again at almost 49, was equally as inspiring. Partly, it reminding me of our years in India and Nepal – that heightened awareness of what God was doing around us, and in us – his leading, his provision, his opportunities, his trustworthiness, in everything.
But more than that, it made me think about my days here now, in Australia. I wonder why I read ‘God’s Smuggler’ and think mostly about our years in Nepal, rather than our years in Australia? Why do I notice what God is doing around me, more in Nepal than in Australia? Why does it feel like I don’t depend on God as much in Australia, as I did in Nepal? Brother Andrew began his work in the 1950’s, smuggling a few, and then hundreds, and then thousands of Bibles across borders into Communist Eastern Europe…. and God kept providing, amazingly, and Brother Andrew kept doing the next obvious thing, to love the neediest Christians in the world. The book almost reads like a thriller – there were so many opportunities for Brother Andrew to trust God and to notice what God was doing. And it makes me wonder… what if I lived like that in Australia? Towards the end of the book, Brother Andrew wrote this, “Persecution is an enemy the church has met and mastered many times. Indifference could prove to be a far more dangerous foe.”
I agree with him. I think I need to stop and notice indifference here, in myself, and around me, and I need to do everything I can to stop falling asleep. Sixty years after Brother Andrew’s first trip to Poland, ‘Open Doors’ (the organisation that developed from his vision) is serving millions of persecuted Christians around the world, in more than 50 different countries, in the places where having faith in Jesus costs the most. And I think that for me, and for all of us, one of the ways to stay awake is to partner with the persecuted church. Not only does it help to strengthen and enable them, the most persecuted Christians in the world, but it also, daily, widens our perspective to what God is doing through the Lord Jesus, in the costliest of places… and as we reflect on that, it hopefully keeps us more awake, to the real and ongoing needs in our street.
“Then Jesus returned to his disciples and found them sleeping… He said, ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’” (Mark 14:37,38)