Just Admire the Scenery

by | Jun 1, 1999 | New Life

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

The British evangelist Sidney Wilson was holding “youth weekends” in Holland then, and we started attending these.

One of the first people to come with us was a blind and badly crippled girl, who worked on the same belt with Greetje. Amy read Braille and showed me how she punched out letters to the other blind people with a little hand Braille-writer. I bought one too, and a copy of the Braille alphabet, and would leave Braille notes on the moving belt of chocolates for Amy’s quick fingers to find.

Of course, this was too much for Greetje to leave alone. “Amy!” She would bellow down the row of working girls. “How much is he offering this time?”

For a long time Amy took the jibes in good humor. But one day I came back from the shipping room to see her blinking her milky eyes as though to keep back tears.

“I can see,” Greetje was booming, “how you might not be sure.” She caught sight of me and grinned maliciously. “All men are alike in the dark, eh, Amy?” She shouted.

I stopped still in the doorway. I had prayed that morning, as I always did while while biking to work that God would tell me what to say o people. The order I seemed to be getting now was so unexpected I could hardly believe it, and yet so clear that I obeyed without thinking.

“Greetje,” I called across the room, “shut up. And shut up for good!” Greetje was so startled, her jaw literally dropped open. I was star­tled myself. But I had to follow up or lose the initiative. “Greetje,” I called, still shouting across the great hall, “the bus leaves for the conference center at nine Saturday morning. I want you to be on board.”

“All right.”

Her answer came just that quickly. I waited to see if a joke was coming, but I noticed that now it was Greetje who was blinking her eyes. As I went back to loading boxes, I noticed that the entire room was strangely silent. Everyone was a little awed at what was happening.

And on Saturday, Greetje was aboard the bus. That surprised me most of all. She was her old self, though, and let us know that she was coming only to find out what really went on after the lights went off.

At the conference grounds Greetje stayed very much to herself. During the meetings she kept up a steady stream of sotto voce com­ments as people told how God was making a difference in their lives. In between meetings Greetje read a romance magazine.

Sunday afternoon the bus brought us back to Alkmaar, where I had left my bicycle at the depot. Greetje lived in the next town to Witte. I wondered what my chances were of persuading her to ride along with me on the back of my bike. It would be a won­derful opportunity to have her uninterrupted attention.

“Can I give you a lift home, Greetje? Save you the bus fare?” Greetje pursed her lips, and I could tell she was weighing the disadvantage of having to ride with me against the price of the bus ticket. Finally, she shrugged and climbed onto the little jump , seat at the rear of my bike. I gave Corrie a wink and pushed off. As soon as we were out in the country, I intended to face Greetje with her need for God. But to my astonishment, the clear command that came this time was: “Not one word about religion. Just admire the scenery.”

Again I could scarcely believe I was hearing correctly. But I obeyed. During the entire trip I did not say a word to my captive about religion. Instead, I talked about the tulip fields we were pass­ing and discovered that she too had eaten tulip bulbs during the war. When we got to her street, I actually got a smile from her.

Next day at the factory Corrie met me with shining eyes. “What on earth did you say to Greetje? Something terrific must have happened!”

“How do you mean? I didn’t say a word.”

But sure enough, all morning long Greetje didn’t crack a dirty joke. Once Amy dropped a box of chocolates. It was Greetje who knelt down and retrieved the pieces. At lunchtime she plunked her tray down beside mine.

“Can I sit with you?” “Of course,” I said.

“You know what I thought?” Greetje began. “I thought you would high-pressure me into ‘making a decision for Christ,’ like they said at those meetings. I wasn’t going to listen. Then you didn’t say a word. Now … don’t laugh, will you?”

“Of course not.”

°I began to wonder, ‘Does Andrew think I’ve gone so far there’s no turning back? Is that why he doesn’t bother talking to me?’ And then I began to wonder if maybe I had gone too far. Would God still listen if I said I was sorry? Would He let me too start all over again, like those kids claimed? Anyhow, I asked Him to. It was a pretty funny prayer, but I meant it. And, Andy, I began to cry. I cried almost all night, but this morning I feel great.”

It was the first conversion I had ever watched. Overnight Greetje was a changed person. Or rather she was the same person with a tremendous addition. She was still a leader, she still talked all the time but what a difference. When Greetje stopped telling smutty stories, many of the other girls stopped too. A prayer cell was started in the factory, with Greetje in charge of attendance. If someone’s child was sick, if a husband was out of work, Greetje found out about it. And woe to the worker who didn’t put some money in the hat. The change in this girl was complete and it was permanent. Night after night in my loft bed back in Witte, I went to sleep thanking God for letting me have a part in this transformation. That factory was a different place. And it all came about through obedience.

Open Doors, Brother Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill, The Narrow Road, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2001, p. 78-81.


Just Admire the Scenery