(This story is taken from a fantastic biography about Brother Andrew, called The Narrow Road)
(P.S. When not involved in a missionary trip, Brother Andrew would stay at Geltje’s and Arie’s)
Money was another problem. Although neither Geltje nor Arie ever mentioned the subject, I knew that I should be participating in the expenses of the household. Shortly after I had come back from my trip to Poland, the Dutch magazine Kracht Van Omhoog had asked me to write a series of articles for them about my experiences behind the Iron Curtain. I was no writer, and I did nothing about the invitation. But now as I sat in my little room with my empty wallet on the homemade desk in front of me, I seemed to hear God say, “Write those articles for Kracht Van Omhoog.”
I was mystified by the command. Surely it could have nothing to do with the need for money about which I had just then been praying: the magazine offered no payment.
But that sense of insistence was there, and in sheer obedience I sat down and wrote about what I had observed not only in Poland but also in Czechoslovakia. I mailed the articles the next day, along with some photographs. The editor acknowledged them with his thanks-but without money as I expected-and I dismissed the whole matter from my mind.
And then one morning there was another letter from Kracht Van Omhoog. A strange thing was happening: although nowhere in the article had I mentioned money or indicated that I was even considering another trip to these places, from all over Holland readers were sending in money. It was never very much, just a few guilders at a time. But the editor wanted to know where he should send them.
And thus began the most amazing story of supply. The first gifts from my unknown friends were small because my needs were small. I wanted to help Geltje with the household expenses; my old jacket was worn out; I had promised Antonin that I would try to mail him a copy of the Czech Bible. And to meet these small needs there was a small income from readers of Kracht Van Omhoog. Later as my work expanded and there was greater need, so too did contributions from readers increase. It was only when there was need for really large sums, years later, that God turned elsewhere for our funds.
But something far more important than money came out of the first contact with Kracht Van Omhoog. In the mail one morning came a letter from the leader of a prayer group in the village of Amersfoort. The Holy Spirit, the letter said, had instructed them to get in touch with me; they didn’t know why-but could I pay a visit to Amersfoort? ; I was
Immediately intrigued. If the Holy Spirit was directing people’s actions so minutely today, this was the very thing I needed to know more about. I went to Amersfoort. The group of about a dozen men and women met in the home of a man named Karl de Graaf, a builder of dikes.
I had never met a group like this. Instead of a planned program for the evening, with a leader and a study topic as with the other prayer groups I had attended, these people seemed to spend most of their time listening. There was an occasional prayer said aloudin no particular order around the room-but these prayers were more like outbursts of love and praise for God than thought-out petitions. It was as though every individual in that room sensed that God was very close, and in the delight of His company wanted nothing, needed nothing, except occasionally to express the joy bubbling up inside.
Occasionally, in the listening, expectant stillness, one of the group would apparently hear something else: some instruction, some piece of information, that came from outside his own knowledge. This too would be spoken aloud. “Joost’s mother, in America, needs our prayers tonight.” “We thank You, Lord, that our prayer for Stephje has just now been answered.” I was so caught up in this new kind of prayer experience that when the others got up to go and Mrs. de Graaf led me to my room, I could scarcely believe the clock on the dresser: it was four-thirty in the morning.
Several days later I was working in my room on a new article for Kracht Van Omhoog when Geltje knocked on the door. “There’s someone to see you, Andrew. I don’t know him.”
I went out to the front stoop, and there was Karl de Graaf. ‘Hello!” I said, surprised.
“Hello, Andy. Do you know how to drive?”
“No,” I said, bewildered. “No, I don’t.”
“Because last night in our prayers we had a word from the Lord about you. It’s important for you to be able to drive.” “Whatever on earth for?” I said. “I’ll never own a car, that’s for sure.”
“Andrew,” Mr. de Graaf spoke patiently, as to a slow-witted student, “I’m not arguing the logic of the case. I’m just passing on the message.” And with that, he was striding across the bridge to his waiting car.
The idea of learning to drive seemed so farfetched that I did nothing about it. But a week later the dike builder drove up to the door again.
“Have you been taking your driving lessons?” “Well-not exactly. . . .”
“Haven’t you learned yet how important obedience is? I suppose I’m going to have to teach you myself. Hop in.”
That afternoon I sat behind the wheel of a motor vehicle for the first time since that disastrous morning eleven years earlier when I had driven the Bren carrier full speed down the company street. Mr. de Graaf returned again and again, and so skilled a teacher was he that a few weeks later I took my driving test and passed it the first time around-a rare thing in Holland. I still could see no reason why I-who didn’t even own a bicycle anymore-should be carrying an automobile driver’s license around in my pocket. But Mr. de Graaf refused to speculate. “That’s the excitement in obedience,” he said. “Finding out later what God had in mind.”
(See part 2)
Open Doors, Brother Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill, The Narrow Road, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2001, p. 139-141.