Open Doors wants to provide shelters where former Muslims can find safety and spiritual support, said the founder of the organization Anne van der Bijl, known internationally as ‘Brother Andrew’. "These homes will also provide Bible studies and medical aid," he added.
Van der Bijl spoke to reporters while launching the Dutch language edition of his book ‘Secret Believers’.
There have also been reports of growing persecution of former Muslims in the Netherlands, with some being forced to move to different cities after death threats from Muslims, Dutch television reported earlier this week. It was not yet clear when, and if, Open Doors would launch shelters in the Netherlands.
Van der Bijl, 80, said the latest efforts are part of his organization’s "special campaign" for ex-Muslims in Islamic countries.
He said Open Doors will also support former Muslims who lost their jobs because of their decision to abandon Islam. "We will help them finding a new job or provide education so they will be able to change working places," Van der Bijl explained.
In addition, Open Doors plans to make available lawyers to support persecuted Christians facing court cases, BosNewsLife learned. The group said many former Muslims are prosecuted by authorities because of their decision to abandon Islam, "despite international treaties on human rights."
The initiatives are accompanied by prayers. Open Doors said it will send supporters weekly e-mails urging prayers "three times a day" for a specific believer.
Van der Bijl said Christians in Muslim nations "suffer even more" than believers in most Communist countries, except in states such as North Korea. "Under Communism Christians were able to worship in secret. When they were caught, they could face prison. In Islamic countries they face the death penalty."
However Van der Bijl also urges prayers for Muslims. He also told reporters recently that Christians should pray for Osama Bin Laden, the founder of the al-Qaida terror network, which claimed responsibility for the September 11 attacks in the United States.
"We have to pray for Osama Bin Laden. Almost everyone says that they won’t. But perhaps that is why he’s what he is. We don’t pray for him," he said. "The Bible says that we should pray for our enemies — not that Bin Laden is our enemy — and love those who persecute us."
The Dutchman came to prominence since the 1950s for smuggling Bibles into the then-communist Soviet Union and its satellite states, with his iconic Volkswagen Beetle car. He later launched Open Doors, now a global organization. His first book, ‘God’s Smuggler’, became an international bestseller with more than 10 million copies sold in English alone. "Tell me one place where Christians can’t go, and I will go there," he has said. (With additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).