Evangelical smuggling disorder

Growing up as a Christian there weren’t many things going for you. The Friday night youth club was about it. Christian music and films were low quality rubbish and we had little to show or share with our friends that we could be proud of. But we did have some good stories that were worth telling. Stories that showed that Christians could be brave, noble, adventurous, heroic. Stories that could make a young Christian boy hold his head up with pride.

I devoured Chariots of Fire (Eric Liddell), The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom), The Cross & the Switchblade (David Wilkerson), Chasing the Dragon (Jackie Pullinger), Through the Gates of Splendour (Jim Elliott).

Amongst these tales of bravery, I, along with millions of others, also read God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew.

I had the privilege of interviewing Brother Andrew maybe ten years or so ago and I prayed that I would have half the desire to evangelize at 30 that he had at 70. I’ve rarely spoken to anyone more energetic. He really was inspirational.

If you’ve never read it, God’s Smuggler is the story of a Dutch missionary who during the Cold War, would again and again risk his life smuggling Bibles into communist countries.

It used to be true that Chinese Christians in underground churches only had Bibles at all if they had been smuggled in.

Bibles were once very difficult to lay hands on, and previously, they were smuggled into China by the ton.

Oddly, then for a generally law abiding minority – smugglers (of Bibles) became our heroes. I’ve met several people who have told me tales of smuggling Bibles across the Iron Curtain back in the day.

But just recently I’ve begun to wonder why it is that many Christians seem to be OK with Bible smuggling but vehemently opposed to people smuggling. As far as I can see it both break the laws of the respective countries involved, both seek to save lives (in an eternal and temporal sense).

I get that smuggling Syrians from Turkey to Greece often involves criminal gangs who are making plenty of profit while also often recklessly endangering the lives of vulnerable people. I get that. That’s a problem.

But smuggling is smuggling. Breaking the law is breaking the law. So why is one sort of smuggling OK and the other isn’t? How would you respond?

Photo by nebarnix

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