Bibles in the Luggage

(This story is taken from a fantastic biography about Brother Andrew, called The Narrow Road)

The Yugoslav government in 1957 permitted visitors to bring in only articles for their personal use. Anything new or anything in quantity was suspect because of the black market thriving all over the country. Printed material especially was liable to be con­fiscated at the border, no matter how small the quantity, because coming from out of the country, it was regarded as foreign prop­aganda. Now here I was with car and luggage literally bulging with tracts, Bibles, and portions of Bibles. How was I to get them past the border guard? And so, for the first of many times, I said the Prayer of God's Smuggler:

"Lord, in my luggage I have Scripture that I want to take to Your children across this border. When You were on earth, You made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the guards see those things You do not want them to see."

And so, armed with this prayer, I started the motor and drove up to the barrier. The two guards appeared both startled and pleased to see me. I wondered how much business came their way. From the way they stared at my passport, it might have been the first Dutch one they had ever seen. There were just a few formalities to attend to, they assured me in German, and I could be on my way.

One of the guards began poking around in my camping gear. In the corners and folds of my sleeping bag and tent were boxes of tracts. "Lord, make those seeing eyes blind."

"Do you have anything to declare?"

"Well, I have my money and a wristwatch and a camera. . . ." The other guard was looking inside the VW. He asked me to take out a suitcase. I knew that there were tracts scattered through my clothing.

"Of course, sir," I said. I pulled the front seat forward and dragged the suitcase out. I placed it on the ground and opened the lid. The guard lifted the shirts that lay on top. Beneath them, and now in plain sight, was a pile of tracts in two different Yugosla­vian languages, Croatian and Slovene. How was God going to handle this situation?

"It seems dry for this time of year," I said to the other guard, and without looking at the fellow who was inspecting the suit­case, I fell into a conversation about the weather. I told him about my own homeland and how it was always wet on the polders. Finally, when I could stand the suspense no longer, I looked behind me. The first guard wasn't even glancing at the suitcase. He was listening to our conversation. When I turned around he caught himself and looked up.

"Well, then, do you have anything else to declare?"

"Only 'small' things," I said. The tracts were small after all.

"We won't bother with them," said the guard. He nodded to me that I could close the suitcase and with a little salute handed me back my passport.

Open Doors, Brother Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill, The Narrow Road, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2001, p. 150-152.

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