“I would take millions of these Bibles! I have never seen people so excited about a Bible before,” says Rev. Amy Finiki, chaplain at Porirua’s Forensic Mental Health hospital.
The award-winning comic strip Action Bible has both patients and staff lining up to read it.
Rev. Amy, who hunted out the Bible for patients with reading difficulties, has been both amazed and delighted at the reaction. “Everyone on this campus is trying to read this Bible. Everyone knows about it – even patients in other units.”
There are about 20 units in all at the Hospital with a total of around 200 beds including Kenepuru Hospital. Rev. Amy works primarily with youth (13-18 years) in three units including Acute Adolescent Mental Health, Intellectual Disabilities Youth Mental Health, and the National Forensic Youth Mental Health Unit. Porirua is home to the country’s first national forensic mental health youth unit opened in 2016, for young people who are involved with the justice system.
Rev. Amy commented patients are saying things like, “Have you see it? It’s amazing. It’s like a comic.” She believes its popularity is due to its accessibility and readability.
“It doesn’t look like a normal Bible, there’s colour and reality to it, even ethnically it’s pretty correct, it’s really well done. It makes people feel like they want to read the Bible and if they can’t read well they can at least see the pictures and follow the story.”
Rev. Amy said the under 18-year-olds loved it and even devised time slots to make sure everyone could have a turn reading it.
“That’s unbelievable to me- it’s a Bible! I love the Bible, don’t get me wrong, but I’m a realist.”
And now patients have started coming to the on-site chapel. “The Word they are reading is not so harsh. It’s more loving. And the world isn’t grey and black – it’s more colourful,” she said. She was spurred into looking for a Bible with a difference when she realised her patients weren’t reading the usual pocket-sized New Testament and Psalms she hands out. “What I found was they couldn’t read well and some Bible words can be difficult.”
“I went off looking for a Bible for teenagers with reading difficulties and came up with nothing. All I could find were little kid’s Bibles which I thought would be very demeaning to them.”
Finally her research turned up the Action Bible and within a week of giving it to the youth there were bookmarks all the way through. But it was both the staff members and the kids who were reading it.
“The kids were passing it around to one another and then the staff members were reading it while it was in the nurses unit. And I just thought this is amazing.”
There are also three schools on campus, one for each of the main units, and the Bible started getting passed between these schools. Now the teachers, nurses, occupational therapists and the kids were reading it. Then just before Christmas Rev. Amy had a delegation visit her asking “ how can we get hold of a copy of this Bible. We need more of these!”
“There are many patients who find just having the Bible with them brings them comfort. Others find peace in reading it and exploring it. It is a wonderful tool to have in our hospital,” she said.
Since writing this story Bible Society has granted the hospital another box of Action Bibles and Rev. Amy and the team want to say a big “thank you!”