Visa for Yugoslavia


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

It was while I was in the midst of this hopeless and heart­breaking work that one morning during the Quiet Time that was now an integral part of every day wherever I was, I had the most remarkable impression. It was just as though I heard a voice tell me: "Today you are going to get the visa for Yugoslavia."

I was incredulous. I had almost forgotten about my pending applications for travel there and other places, so wrapped up had I been with the camps. Still, I found myself glancing out the win­dow of the volunteer hostel, watching for the morning mail. When I saw the carrier coming, I ran down to meet her. "A letter for you from Holland!" She said and fished around in her bag.

I took the letter from her. The address in Witte was crossed out, and above it, in Geltje's handwriting, was the street and number of the hostel in Berlin. In the left-hand corner of the envelope was the seal of the Yugoslavian embassy at The Hague. "Thank you!" I said, and right there on the corner I ripped the letter open and stared uncomprehending at its contents. The Yugoslav gov­ernment regretted to inform me that my application for a visa had been denied. That was all. No explanation.

What did it mean? Surely I had received some kind of advance knowledge about this letter. But my message had been that the visa was granted. Could it be that I was to go to the Yugoslavian consulate in Berlin and make a new application? I ran up to my room, snatched up a set of photographs, and headed for the tramway. Within an hour I was once more filling out those long triplicate forms. And once more I came to the line: "Occupation." This was the one, I suspected, that was causing all the trouble. "Lord," I said under my breath, "what shall I put here?"

And all at once I was recalling the words of the Great Com­mission: "Go ye, and teach all nations...... Then, I was a teacher, wasn't I? On the application form I wrote TEACHER and handed the forms across the desk.

"If you will have a seat over there, sir, I will examine your application right now."

The official disappeared into another room. I waited an anx­ious twenty minutes during which time it seemed to me that I could hear the chatter of a tele­graph key. But it must have been a mistake, because the clerk came back all smiles to wish me a happy journey into his country.

I had to tell someone the good news. My folks? We didn't have a telephone, and it was awkward going through the neighbors. The Whetstras? That was it! I'd telephone the Whetstras.

I placed a station-to-station call and got Mr. Whetstra him­self on the line.

"This is Andrew calling. How lucky to find you home in the middle of the day."

"I thought you were in Berlin." "I am."

"We were so sorry to hear about your father."

"Thank you. But this call is good news, Mr. Whetstra. I just had to tell you. I have in my hand two pieces of paper. One is a letter from the Yugoslavian consulate in Holland turning down my request for a visa, and the other is my passport, stamped with a visa by the Yugoslav people here. I've got it, Mr. Whetstra! I'm going behind ' the Curtain as a missionary!"

"Andrew, you'd better come home for your keys."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Whetstra, this is a bad connection. I thought you said keys."

"I did. To your Volkswagen. We've talked it all over, and there's no untalking us. Mrs. Whetstra and I decided months ago that if you got the visa, you also got our automobile. Come home and pick up the keys."

(see part 1)

Open Doors, Brother Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill, The Narrow Road, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2001, p. 145-148.

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