Bringing hope to prisoners and patients this Easter

This Easter, many New Zealanders will be celebrating this important Christian event in hospital or in prison.

They may be alone and in bleak circumstances away from friends and family.

But there is one thing that can make a real difference in their life – the Bible.

For many years, thanks to our supporters, we’ve been able to supply Bibles and Bible resources to chaplains to reach those in need.

Easter is about the beginning of all things being made new and the hope of life forever (Colossians 1:18 – 20). It’s about a crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus. For people currently in hospital or prison this hope can be life-changing.

One area of hospital chaplaincy where Bibles are increasingly important is mental health.

Currently there is a need for more Bibles in te Reo Māori, according to Chaplain Rev. Wyatt Butcher, who says Māori have a strong spirituality, structured largely around the Christian faith. “There is a growing trend for these patients to request the Scriptures in Māori. They treat these as taonga [a treasure],” he says.

“One such patient, who recently received the Word of God in Māori, settled in to read it and was quickly able to be integrated into the unit from an isolation room. Meeting this need sped up his recovery.”

 

“Our palm-sized Little Book of Hope is still our most popular Scripture leaflet with hospital patients. Chaplains like it because it’s small and fits in their pockets and contains key Bible verses on relevant topics like hope, strength, unity and peace. I love being able to present chaplains with this wonderful resource.”
James Williamson – Bible Society Mission Partner

The need for hospital chaplains to have a continuous supply of Bibles is nationwide.

Rev. Amail Habib, Chaplain at Whanganui Hospital, says Bibles are always in demand. “Many patients ask for them. They also appreciate it when we can give them free Bibles.”

Echoing these thoughts is Hospital Chaplain Noel Tiano, Te Korowai-Whariki, Central Region Forensic Mental Health and Rehabilitation Services. “Without a doubt, the forensic and mental health clients and staff here are very appreciative of the Bibles, especially the newer modern English translations. It’s especially valuable when I conduct spiritual reflections with clients so that we can read passages together and explore its application in their life situation. I prefer to select themes that deal with their recovery, for example – assurance, forgiveness, self-esteem, hope, faithfulness, compassion, confidence, nonviolence, mindfulness – and relate these to their faith journey.”

And the need for Bibles in chaplaincy continues in prisons throughout New Zealand too.

Graham Lapslie, Chaplain at Auckland South Corrections Facility says, “Hardly a day goes by without a request for a Bible or New Testament of some description. We feel that your ministry is a critical component to the ministry of chaplaincy in this prison.”

“The Bible is their treasured Word, their hope, and their future; the eyes of the women that we give them to (the Bible), fill with light, love and often tears too,” said Mrs Nina Haines, Assistant Chaplain at Auckland Regional Women’s Correction Facility.

Mark Sims, Assistant Chaplain at a North Island prison agrees.

“The bottom line is God’s Word shared and read brings results, as the one who inspired the book breaks through men’s hearts to bring life. We can trust the Bible to do its job.”

Mark also shared about Raymond, who had been brought up in a Methodist church and had a belief in God. “I met him whilst looking for another prisoner and after introducing myself he immediately agreed to have a Bible study.

“Raymond had the seed of God’s Word in him from childhood. He had some knowledge about Jesus but no understanding about how his death and resurrection could bring him the gift of eternal life. As we talked he grabbed my hand, bowed his head and asked Jesus to save him.”

In 2017, we aim to grant 4,000 Bibles, New Testaments, and Scripture portions to hospitals, hospices and prisons in New Zealand.

Will you help us continue to supply chaplains with Bibles so they can get them to even more prisoners and patients?


12,000 Kiwi youth to encounter Luke’s Gospel at Easter

Common Bible reading barriers have been addressed in this year’s Easter Gospel to be distributed at Easter camps around New Zealand.

The barriers were revealed in Bible Society’s 2016 Youth Bible Engagement Research. Not knowing where to start reading, having trouble connecting with God, time pressures and simply not understanding the Bible content were the key barriers uncovered in the research.

To help youth overcome some of these, Bible Society has published a special edition of the Gospel of Luke. The publication features chapter summaries, an eight-week youth group discussion guide, and new reflection sections called pause.

The pause sections invite readers to imagine themselves in a Bible scene using their senses of sight, smell, hearing and touch.

“Using your imagination is another possible way to connect with God and the Bible. I encourage them to just go for it and not be concerned about getting all the details right. It doesn’t really matter if you imagine the disciples in sneakers,” commented Jeremy Woods, Bible Society’s Youth and Young Adult’s Ministry Partner (pictured above).

“It’s about inviting youth to discover the Bible for themselves, hear what God is saying, and for them to reflect on what God is doing in their community.”

Since 2011, when Bible Society first began preparing specially designed Bible resources for Easter Camps, more than 50,000 Gospels and other resources have been given away to youth throughout the country. The material is often used post-camp by youth group leaders as a discussion resource.

“This Gospel is about encountering and following Jesus. In Luke we encounter Jesus who (often over a meal) challenged common understandings about what it meant to follow God. Luke is an invitation for all of us to come and see if the way of Jesus is better than the way of the world,” commented Jeremy.

A key goal in producing these resources is to give youth permission to grapple with their understanding of their faith with others. “It is important that they own their faith,” Jeremy said.

This Easter, Bible Society, through the generosity of its supporters, will give away 12,000 Gospels of Luke at the following Easter camps: the three main Easter camps – Baptist Central (Fielding), Baptist Northern (Mystery Creek, Hamilton) and Canterbury Youth Service’s Southern (Christchurch). It will also be given to youth at the nine Presbyterian Easter camps held around the country, the Central Division Salvation Army Easter camp at Silverstream, Upper Hutt and at the Wellington New Life Camp.