Dare To Connect

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Image: Loading one million Bibles onto a barge for delivery to China in 1981.
By Nicole Todd | 26 February 2019

Dean Keaney has spent much of his life connecting the local church with the persecuted church worldwide.

When Dean and his wife Becky packed up their lives in Colorado and moved to Sydney, Australia in 1978, they were answering the call of a God who had much bigger plans for their lives than they had themselves.

“It’s God’s call, how do you say, ‘No’?” Dean says. “Do you dare to say ‘No,’ even though you don’t feel qualified?”

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Image: Dean (left) with Open Doors founder Brother Andrew in Sydney in 1978.

In his time with Open Doors, Dean has connected many New Zealanders to the persecuted church over the years, pushing the limits of their comfort zones through trips to places like North Korea, Egypt, and China.

“China was the number one priority for Open Doors worldwide,” remembers Dean. “The biggest nation on Earth, atheist, Communist, all the missionaries tossed out… And so, our job here was to get the [local] church awakened, not just sending the Word, but taking it themselves.”

Eventually, Dean was part of the team that pulled off operation Project Pearl, where they successfully delivered one million Bibles into China, over a single night.

Dean worked closely with the local church in New Zealand and Australia to build teams that would become Bible couriers and prayer warriors for Christians living in some of the hardest places to follow Jesus.

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Image: Bibles at an Open Doors office ready for travellers to take into China.

He says, “We’d build a team of about 10 to 15 people. We’d load them up with all the goodies – the Bibles, get their tickets booked, get them to the airport, and then off they go.”

On some of these trips, Dean has been caught by border guards attempting to smuggle Bibles into countries where it is illegal to own one. He’s been trapped by secret police, below deck on a boat with his 12-year-old-daughter. And he has spent 40 years challenging and inspiring the local church to stand with people who suffer daily for their faith in Jesus, and yet live and encourage a selfless faith in us all.

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Image: Dean bringing Bibles through a Chinese checkpoint.

Dean’s story is one that fosters a deeper connection between the church in New Zealand and the persecuted church around the world. He has spent his life witnessing the power of God, who works through profoundly human hands to achieve unthinkable things.

Dean is still at Open Doors today, continuing his legacy of connecting local Christians to their persecuted brothers and sisters all around the world. He calls us all to take the next step in faith to support those who suffer for their own faith in Jesus.

“Step out in faith because God wants to do something through you that you don’t even have a clue about,” says Dean. “Step out and even though the road may not be the easiest because there’s trials and testing, yet He will see you through. Don’t miss out on God’s best."

“He who calls you is faithful. God is in this ministry and has been since day one. It’s not anybody involved in it, it is God’s ministry. He started it, He’s doing it, He’s going to finish it. It’s all Him, it’s all about Him.”

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