Help me Refuse to Yield to Fear


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

The border crossing, too, was harder on me than usual. Whether it was that for the first time I wanted desperately not to be caught, not to be detained, not to let anything keep me from that date in Alkmaar, or whether the stories in the refugee camps had made me particularly fearful of Hungary, I do not know.

However, once again God made "seeing eyes blind," and at last I was rolling along through the Hungarian countryside. The road I was following wound along the Danube. It was beautiful, just as the song said-although its color instead of being blue was a deep milk-chocolate brown. I began to feel hungry and decided to stop by the river for lunch. So 1 pulled off the road, drove down a sandy one, stopped in a little clearing at the water's edge, and got out the mak­ings of my picnic. In order to get the stove out, I actually had to move several boxes of tracts that the border guards had just overlooked.

No sooner had I opened a can of peas-and-carrots than I heard a roar. I looked up. A speedboat was cutting through the water toward me at full throttle, throwing a wake higher than the boat itself. In the bow stood a soldier with a drawn machine gun. At the last possible instant the boat swerved and coasted to a neat landing at the river's edge. Now I saw that there were two other soldiers in the boat. The man in front leapt ashore, followed by another one.

"Lord," I said very softly as they approached, "help me refuse to yield to fear."

The first soldier kept the machine gun on me while the other ran to the car. I kept stirring the peas-and-carrots as I heard the door of the car open.

I began talking, speaking Dutch, which I felt sure these men would not understand.

"Well, sir, " I said, stirring, "it certainly is nice to have you drop in this way."

The soldier stared stonily.

"As you can see," I went on, "I'm preparing to eat."

Behind me I heard the other door of the car open. I reached into my picnic box and drew out two extra plates. "Would you care to join me?" I raised my eyebrows and waved my hand in a gesture of invitation. The soldier shook his head brusquely as if to say he wasn't going to be bribed. "At least not for a mess of peas-and-carrots, eh?" I thought.

I could hear the other soldier poking around. Any moment now he would certainly ask about those boxes.

"Well," I said aloud. "If you don't mind, I'm going to go ahead and eat while the food is hot." I spooned the vegetables onto my plate and then faced a dilemma. Should I say grace? In the camps they had told me that Christians were particularly suspect in Hun­gary now, since many had taken leading roles in the revolt.

But no, here was a chance to witness to three men. In a ges­ture far more deliberate than normal, I bowed my head, folded my hands, and said a long and hearty thanksgiving for the food I was about to eat.

An amazing thing happened. While I prayed there was no sound from the soldier inspecting my car. Just as soon as I had finished, the door slammed and I heard the sound of boots com­ing rapidly toward me. I picked up my fork and took a bite of peas. For a moment both soldiers stood over me. Then abruptly they whirled. Without looking behind them, they ran down to their boat, jumped in, and roared off in a spray of white.

Open Doors, Brother Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill, The Narrow Road, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2001, p. 172-174.

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