The virtue of
courage is well documented for Mary Slessor .
For the cause of Christ she overcame her
almost pathological fear of men. She entered
areas so wild in what is now Nigeria that
white and black intruders alike were usually
killed. Read about one incident displaying
this virtue of courage in her vignette under ''defining moments'.
She had many moments as trying as that.
So did Brother Andrew, who
took incredible risks smuggling Bibles into
Communist countries beginning in 1955. The
fall of Communism later blurred memories of
how tyrannical those countries were. But
enemies of the state simply disappeared - for
years because they were imprisoned or forever
because they were murdered. However, Brother
Andrew's fearlessness can perhaps best be
illustrated by an incident that occurred in
Saudi Arabia, the Muslim nation his
organization Open Doors graded in the 1990's
the country most devoid of religious freedom
in the world!
The Saudis used absolute,
total oppression. The Saudis were worse than
the worst of the old hard-line Communists,
even the Albanians. The Saudis permitted no
devotion outside Islam by anyone. Period. If a
Christian foreigner was even suspected of
praying in private the authorities would
coerce his company into sending him
permanently out of the country. Documented
private worship resulted in a prison sentence.
Often Christians serving sentences in prison
for private worship remained there even after
their sentences ran out. Any open devotion was
punishable by death.
It was no different in
1967. While Andrew had been speaking in
Switzerland he was invited by an English
scholar on a clandestine trip. The Englishman
was going to do nothing less than drive a Land
Rover into Saudi Arabia to explore for the
real Mount Sinai! Of course Brother Andrew
jumped at the chance, adding a colleague and
loading the vehicle with Bibles in Arabic.
Although the Saudi
Arabians maintained an official posture of
rabid opposition to other religious beliefs
Brother Andrew knew the average Arab was quite
a different challenge from a Godless
Communist. Muslims were spiritual cousins of
Jews and Christians. Although the Koran, their
sacred book, nowhere directly quoted the Old
or New Testaments it nevertheless acknowledged
Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus as holy
prophets who preceded Mohammed. So devout
Muslims had at least some curiosity about
these Jewish prophets and Jesus. And Andrew
knew their curiosity could be satisfied only
by the Bible.
As they approached the
Saudi Arabian border at a town on the Gulf of
Aqaba, Andrew felt like Moses: 'a stranger in
a strange land'! But the Saudis would not let
the Englishman - or his Land Rover - in. He
urged Andrew and his colleague to continue on
the mission - if they could. Amazingly the two
were allowed to enter. Brother Andrew hired a
taxi and they transferred as many of the
Bibles from the Land Rover into it as they
could. Then off they rumbled into Saudi
Arabia! They skirted Medina, one of Mohammed's
holy places. A sign read INFIDELS FORBIDDEN.
Near another holy site, Mecca, they stopped in
Jidda where Andrew knew a Christian worked.
The man blinked in
disbelief. Then the man was horrified. Brother
Andrew and his colleague went to the local
bazaar and handed out Bibles! It was such an
outrageous act no one quite understood what
they were doing. It was virtual suicide to do
such a thing. But having done it the two
missionaries calmly obtained exit visas and
departed Saudi Arabia from the Jidda airport.
The trip had been flawed nearly every step of
the way, yet Brother Andrew penetrated the
heart of Saudi Arabia. Who knew how many lives
were changed by the Bibles they distributed in
Jidda? Brother Andrew never underestimated the
power of the Bible.