The book you are holding will be considered by some as controversial. That is even true within Open Doors, the ministry founded by Brother Andrew in 1955 when he traveled to Poland and saw the struggles of the Church under Communism.
For those of you who are not familiar with Open Doors, we exist to strengthen and equip the Church living under or facing restriction and persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ. To do that, we provide Bibles and other literature for persecuted Christians who otherwise could not obtain them. In 2003 we delivered nearly four million Bibles, children’s Bibles, study Bibles, and other scriptural books to churches in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and throughout the Muslim world. In addition, we trained twenty-two thousand pastors and church leaders in how to lead their congregations and stand strong in their faith in the midst of persecution and discrimination.
In the late 1960s, when the visibility of Brother Andrew’s best-selling book God’s Smuggler prevented him from personally returning to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, one of the places he felt led to visit was the Middle East. What he saw troubled him. More and more he began to speak out about the region and particularly about the rise of Muslim fanaticism, which has had a dramatic impact on the Church in the region. He felt it was critical to do whatever he could to help strengthen the Church so it could be a light in the midst of the unending conflict.
More radically, Brother Andrew also set out to reach Israel’s enemies with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes he did this with words, sometimes by showing Christian love and compassion. In the process, he challenged the thinking of the local Church.
When I was appointed president of Open Doors in 1995, it freed Brother Andrew to concentrate on this region. This book describes his pilgrimage. It does not seek to be political or take sides, even though a lot of attention is given to the suffering of the dwindling community of Christians among the Palestinian population.
It is important to note that committed Christians disagree on many theological issues, such as speaking in tongues or eternal security or prophecy. The issues of Israel and the land can be among the most divisive. We’ve wrestled with this within Open Doors, and we have staff members who stand on both sides of the issues. Still, we love each other and work together because we share a higher call to the Church of Jesus Christ.
It is my prayer that this book will stir the body of Christ around the world to more compassion and prayer for this difficult part of the world. The closer we come to the return of Jesus Christ, the more we need to stand united. Both Jewish believers in the Messiah and their Arab and Palestinian brothers and sisters living in the land need our prayers and support. May this book show the way to what I believe is the only hope for peace in the Middle East—shining the light of Jesus Christ into the darkness of this terrible conflict.
president of Open Doors