Wednesday, July 2, 2014

God's Smuggler

Another terrific book we read during our modern history studies this past spring was God's Smuggler, a true story set in the 1940's to 1960's.  It is the story of a Dutchman, whom we shall call Andrew. We learn of his adventurous daring-do, as most typical boys are, but he was frighteningly daring during the German occupation. After the war he enters the Dutch military where he continues to tempt fate, only to face injury...and God, whom he was trying to avoid. In time he is discharged from the service and later he becomes a Christian. He shares his story of how his life is transformed from one of carelessly living and tempting fate to purposefully trusting God. His bravado and sense of adventure continues though in the fascinating story of his secret trips behind the Iron Curtain to deliver Bibles to people starving for God's Word.  At first he undertandably hides Bibles in every nook and cranny of his VW Bug that he possibly can. As he sees the need for more Bibles behind the Iron Curtain, he strategizes how to pack more Bibles than the hidden places can possibly hold. What to do? He decides to put full faith in the Lord by placing the extra cargo of Bibles in every other conceivable corner of the car, including next to him on the front seat in full view of border guards who carefully inspect each car as it enters the checkpoints. Andrew commits the venture to God by praying, "Lord, you have made blind eyes see. Now please make seeing eyes blind." Oh yes, this is one of those books that make tingles run up and down your spine as the impossible happens...repeatedly!
The true story of faith and adventure has increased my faith more and more each time I read the book.  I first read it in high school when I was powerfully affected.  Later I read the book aloud to my children when they were of elementary age. Then I had them read the book when we studied WWII and the Cold War four years ago.  I suggested to my son that we read it yet again as we deepened our studies of WWII and the Cold War yet a final time in our homeschool journey, to which he eagerly agreed. He was familiar with the story but had forgotten details.  A revisit through a good book is always great! Children will not always remember every single detail, nor shall we. Repeated readings of great books are part of a training in the way they should go. The fascinating miracles that they do remember draws them in for a repeated reading for the story behind the miracles.
One of the things about this book that most powerfully affected me was the deep appreciation for God's Word.  We take it for granted today where it is easily accessed in a store, on-line and on mobile devices, not that that is bad. That is a good thing. However, to what degree is the ease of availability causing us to take the Bible for granted?  Today power point presentations at church allow attendees to not even need to open their Bibles, if they even bring them at all. Does all this availability cause us to actually read the Bible more? Key paramounts in how our faith can grows is the degree to which we read and study God's Word. This becomes a personal question for each of us to explore in our own heart. Let the people behind the Iron Curtain from another generation convict us.
As I read God's Smuggler, I was deeply touched by the emotions that powerfully poured from the recipients' soul when Andrew would hand them a Bible.  To have not had a Bible at all because the government rendered them illegal, then to hold the precious book in their hands brought tears of joy to many eyes. 
When we attended Wayside Chapel in San Antonio, our pastor, Steve Troxel, always had us stand at the beginning of each of his sermons for the reading of God's word.  At first this didn't emotionally move me one way or the other. However during this time is when I read God's Smuggler for the second time to myself, as I read it aloud to my children when they were young. I was powerfully affected.
What if someday our government took our Bibles away from us? How precious did I regard God's Word? How much did I truly appreciate it? The more I read of Brother Andrew's stories, the more the Christians of the Eastern block nations spoke to me of gratitude and holding dear that which is most precious on earth. After all, the only things that will last into eternity are God's Word and peoples' souls.
Standing for the reading of God's Word at the beginning of each sermon became most dear.  We've listened to many pastors over the years but only Pastor Troxel had us stand to honor God's Word. I am most grateful for that and do wish other pastors would prayerfully consider doing this.
I highly recommend this book, God's Smuggler, in your own life, and in the life of your teenager or young adult. It is a powerful book about the most powerful and precious book that has ever existed. God's Smuggler was truely an integral life changing book about the history of the Cold War. These stories may never make the history books, but if we were to ask someone who lived behind the Iron Curtain, would they have been some of those who received Bibles from Brother Andrew?
Even Napoleon insisted on restoring religion to the people when he took power in France. His advisors did not agree so he sent them to the countryside to ask.  They investigated and learned that the people indeed wanted freedom to worship God. Code Napoleon allowed the people to worship freely, whether they were Catholic, Protestand, or Jew. This was unheard of in Europe at this time. However it was important to Napoleon because he knew a country was only as strong as their morals and beliefs in God.
Communism tried to keep God out of the Iron Curtain countries. Brother Andrew risked his life to journey into the dark interior to bring hope to the suffering Christians. Communism finally fell. Yes, I do believe that God's Smuggler is a key book to understanding the Cold War. It's not the only book, but it tells a vastly important story that most history books ignore.

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