Bible creates excitement at Kenepuru hospital

“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!”


Wellington Medical Doctor knows the power of the Bible

Wellington medical Doctor Ate Moala loves praying the Bible.

“That’s how I read the Bible. I pray it. I read out the scriptures, personalise them and turn them into prayers” she explains.

“The Word of God is life to me. One of the scriptures I really love is Proverbs 4:20 (NKJV).” Ephesians is another of Ate’s favourite books.

Take Your Bible Prescription!

Ate, who appears in one of our new Good for Life films, sees the Bible as a valuable tool in her work. In situations where things seem medically hopeless, she believes it is important to give people hope. “I say to people. This is where the medical textbook ends, but there is God. I tell them that God, Creator of the human body, is able to do much more.”

She says, “When people are in seemingly hopeless situations, I encourage them to read and speak the promises God has given in his Word.

“Or it might be a person with depression and you can look them in the eye and speak to their soul and say, ‘God has got a great plan for you and your future’, and remind them of who they are. It’s a great privilege to help people in a holistic way and shift people from despair to hope through the life-giving power of God’s Word. You give people a chance to encounter this loving God who has revealed himself to us through his Word.”

Sometimes Ate says she’ll write them a promise from the Bible (like a prescription) and encourage them to take it three times a day. “You’re actually giving them a gift – the living Word.”

Go Girls!

Ate, who is Tongan, also founded Purely Girls, a Christian youth leadership development ministry in New Zealand and now Tonga. Her vision is to help girls know who they are, and that they are loved, special and cherished. Ate and the Purely Girls team equip the girls with tools so that they can reach for the stars in all areas of society.

Watch Ate’s story below…

 


One million Bibles for Cuba dream comes true

The dream of distributing one million Bibles throughout Cuba became a reality this week with the final Bible being presented to an excited young Cuban girl.

The young girl from Havana that received the one millionth Bible

Faithful Bible Society New Zealand (BSNZ) supporters have been key in making this happen and their commitment was honoured with a special engraved plaque presented to BSNZ Programme Director, Stephen Opie, who attended the finale celebration in Havana.

Humble beginnings

The idea of distributing one million Bibles in Cuba originated in 2012 after Bernt Olsen, from Bible Society in Norway found pastors in Cuba who didn’t even have a Bible themselves. This was a catalyst moment for the Biblical Commission of Cuba (Bible Society), which launched One Million Bibles for Cuba in 2012.

Since then they have worked with 60 different denominations across the country of 11 million people, and helped unite the church behind the ambitious project. For the Cuban Church, which started to grow rapidly in the early 1990s, it seemed like an impossible dream but today youth, children, prison chaplains and Bible seminaries all have Bibles.

During the life of the project, Bible distribution numbers grew exponentially, from just 32,000 in 2012 to more than 300,000 in 2017.

More work to do

“There is a real sense here that this is not an end, but a beginning,” Stephen Opie said. “The need in Cuba for more Bibles is still great, with many Cubans unable to afford one. With the church behind them, and the continued support of many faithful Christians in New Zealand and all over the world, hundreds of thousands more Bibles could be distributed in the coming years.”

Joel Dopico, Executive Director of the Cuba Council of Churches said, “If we continue on this strategy, we believe half of all Cubans can be reached with the Bible.”


The Bible bringing hope, peace and healing to the Middle East

As the fighting and conflict continues to rage in this part of the world the Bible is in unprecedented demand. It is bringing hope, peace and healing to people desperate for answers.

Bible distribution in Syria

Despite the often dangerous situations Bible Society staff on the ground in both Syria and Lebanon remain strong in their mission to get the Bible to people who need it…

Head of the Bible Society in Syria, George Andrea, recently sent us this message; “It’s true the terrible situation in our dear homeland (Syria) is going from bad to worse. We keep on praying that God himself would put an end to this war, which has already lasted for seven years.

“So far we are ok, but Damascus has been a ghost city for several weeks while the war has been going on in several suburbs of the capital. Please pray for our country.”

Among the daily threats of war, violence and persecution, the Bible Society team of staff and volunteers have remained in Syria to ensure Bible mission there continues.

George Andrea

Devastation in Aleppo

In Aleppo, the scene of the deadliest conflict of the war last year, Bible Society continued carrying out Scripture distribution and Christmas programmes in different churches. Mr Andrea (pictured right), who is based in Aleppo, along with most of the Bible Society staff team, said the churches there remained active throughout the very worst of the bombardments.
“Not only by holding funeral services – there have been far too many of those – but also by offering community-centred services, which are so badly needed,” he explained.

Church is part of people’s lives

“It may be difficult for people in other parts of the world to understand just how much the church is part of people’s lives here in the Middle East. Yes, there are many people who never attend church, but once there is a crisis more and more people get in touch with the church because it remains there, in the midst of the crisis.

“The Church doesn’t only look after its own members – thousands of families from other communities have been helped for years, and the aid is given with no strings attached. It would be very difficult to find a church in Syria which doesn’t actively help people. I believe the church is both salt and light in our country, and we need both in order to rebuild.”

Huge demand for Bibles

Amidst all this turmoil is a huge demand for Scriptures – from both Christians relying on God more than ever, and Muslims looking for an alternative to the extreme expression of Islam they see around them. Last year in Syria, Bible Society distributed 284,065 scripture items, including 7,108 Bibles, 6,676 New Testaments and 6,076 children’s Bibles. Bible Society also runs bookshops in the region, including one in the city of Aleppo – just 150 metres from the frontline of the war in Syria.

“Supporting the Christian presence all over Syria is a major need in these times. Many churches and monasteries are being attacked and burnt, which has created a fear of existence for Christians. This is our opportunity to support their continuous presence,” Mr Andrea said.

Peace and justice in Lebanon

In this often volatile region, Bible Society of Lebanon is working hard to ensure the Bible’s message of peace, justice and reconciliation impacts lives.

Mike Bassous

Lebanon Bible Society CEO Mike Bassous (pictured right) says, “The Lebanese youth have a lot of questions about God, justice and peace. This is because Lebanon and its surrounding countries have experienced wars, injustice and famine, so the youth ask, does God exist and why does he allow this to happen?”

“We believe answers can be found in the Peace and Justice Bible, which highlights more than 3,000 verses on this topic, including study sections, which help answer their questions.”

Bible Society of Lebanon is distributing the Peace and Justice Bible to these young people, including many university students, and encouraging their interaction with the Word of God. Nour is one such student whose life was turned around…

Nour discovers the Bible

Nour is a 20-year-old Lebanese woman from Tripoli (North Lebanon), who lives in a village near the Notre Dame University of Lebanon. She participated in a Bible Society university survey and programme on the Peace and Justice Bible which addressed questions about oppression, inequity and injustice. She said she didn’t like the idea of God who is responsible for injustice in the world.

However, she was surprised when she began to look at verses in the Peace and Justice Bible, and became interested in reading it, and asked for a copy. She then also asked for a Bible for her children.

Two weeks later, Bible Society staff met Nour again and they were pleased and surprised when she announced she wanted to become part of the university pastoral team as a result of reading the Bible. She said, “The God in this Bible is different to the god which I have heard about. He is a God faithful to his promises, a God who tolerates the failings of man and accepts his freedom, a God who loves and seeks the heart of man, for these reasons. I want to know more about him.”

But what is even more amazing is Nour joined the Bible Society team to become part of the first group of Christians in the history of the university to take part in pastoral care work. Mike Bassous said, “This spiritual breakthrough would not have happened without the Peace and Justice Bible.”

PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR SYRIA AND LEBANON

A final message from Mr Andrea and Mr Bassous: “We have a message of peacemaking, this is our mission. It’s also of love and reconciliation for all Syrians and Lebanese. We need to proclaim a peace that passes all understanding, and a love which forgives and repairs broken hearts. This is what we are all about. We cry with all the people suffering here, and our hearts are filled with the love of Jesus to the ones on all sides bleeding today.”

To make a donation to help bring the hope and peace of the Bible to Syria, you can use our secure donation form.

Donate now

The Super Cool Story of Jesus touches hearts nationwide

Thanks to the support of many people around the country, nearly 80,000 copies copies of the Super Cool Story of Jesus have been given away to Kiwi kids.

With demand still strong, the remaining 20,000 will be distributed soon.. During the course of this project we had many excited people contact us. One New Plymouth grandmother, who has 30 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren was so keen to get the story of Jesus to her tribe she ordered 50 copies, one for each grandchild!

We were also able to get the book to families in less favourable circumstances through our partnership with Salvation Army. Here’s what Eleanor Carr, Salvation Army Regional Family Store Manager had to say.

“It was a pleasure to be able to have the super cool super readable super engaging book The Super Cool Story of Jesus available in our Central Division Family stores. It was an extra treat for our customers and a timely offering at Easter.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Coup from Harvest Junior Church, Papakura, Auckland shares about how her church used The Super Cool Story of Jesus as a resource at a local library Storytime event.

“I decided to base our programme around The Super Cool Story of Jesus.  We had more than 20 children attend our 45-minute Storytime and craft session, where we read the Bible Story of Easter. We did crafts relating to Jesus and his love for us and then every child went home with their own copy of The Super Cool Story of Jesus. In our audience, we had a parent who hadn’t heard the Easter story before. She was able to go home with one of your books. It was a blessing being able to give back to our community in this way. We really felt we were giving the children something of worth and something that will remind them in the many Easters to come.

Bible Society’s display at the Waikato Show, where we gave away more than 300 copies of The Super Cool Story of Jesus.

“We also gave our Sunday-School children a copy each as well. The seed you have sown is huge and we wanted you to know our journey with your book! May God bless your ministry abundantly!”

And lastly, we had a very positive response at the annual Waikato Show, the first time Bible Society has exhibited there. We gave away 320 copies of The Super Cool Story of Jesus to excited kids who played on the activity table with our Bake for Bibles cookie cutters.

None of this would have been possible without you. Thank you for partnering with us and stepping out in faith. We were able to fulfill this vision of telling Kiwi kids nationwide about Jesus.


Sandalwood trees and the Bible offer hope

Since 2015, we have been partnering with the Bible Society of the South Pacific to support a creative Bible-based programme encouraging community living through growing sandalwood trees.

The MagiMagi programme is now growing strongly and is starting to change lives in the Pacific.

Now 25-30 year olds are starting to read the Bible and villagers are getting excited about the potential economic success of their sought after sandalwood trees. In addition, a village life-style based on cooperation is starting to grow. This was the way of the past.

This is all thanks to a Bible Society South Pacific (BSSP) project called MagiMagi based on biblical mentorship. The project is running in the four villages of Dravo, Maumi, Naila and Nsisogovau which together has a population of more than 800 people. Denominational churches are coming together in unity to get behind the project.

Through MagiMagi, people have received Bibles and study books in Fijian. Now they are reading them and also joining small groups to receive Bible study guidance and encouragement. In other MagiMagi villages, work is being done on translations of comics and scripture resources into local dialects. This means many people are returning to their own mother tongue.

However the big draw card for MagiMagi is the economic benefit. Fifty two sandalwood trees planted in Dravo village will be worth a staggering FJ$1.5m (NZ$1m) when harvested in the future, 10-15 years from now.

In addition, people are also being trained in producing shorter-term food crops such as taro, cassava, coconuts and cabbages. Previously individual growers were being played off against each other by buyers. Now they are selling cooperatively and getting better returns.

Model farmers – Maumi Village

This is how it works. Model farmers are mature Christians who are able to mentor and disciple others. There are 15 model farmers in Maumi trained in agricultural techniques who take other farmers under their wing. Some of the other farmers are not interested in Christian activity at first but want to learn how to make a living off their land.

One participant is Makiti, who had some land that many years ago was used to grow rice until the value of this crop plummeted. Now through MagiMagi, he has been taught how to grow watermelons, which sell for about FJ$15 each.

At first, Makiti was solely interested in learning to make a living off the land. But then he changed and became curious and Christian living and the Bible. He even attended an outreach and became a Christian.

The Bible truly is bringing the life to Fiji.

You can be involved in this creative and life-giving project in Fiji by making a donation. If you’d like to contribute, you can make an online donation using our secure form.

Make a donation now

More Pacific kids for God’s Kingdom!

Still recovering villages and schools devastated by Cyclone Winston received the welcome gift of Bibles recently from Bible Society South Pacific (BSSP).

Hundreds of Bibles were distributed to nine schools and 32 villages in Fiji as part of BSSP’s Kingdom Kids project which aims to provide children and youth with scriptures. It is hoped this material will draw them closer to God.

More than 120 Good News Bibles were gifted to schools around the island who are all in the process of rebuilding following the tropical storm. Principals and teachers were excited about the Bibles, which they were without, explained Ledua from BSSP.

Meanwhile church elders and serving lay people from 32 villages in Ovalau and Motoriki attended a Bible-based Trauma Healing workshop where more Bibles were also distributed. Around 320 Fijian New Version Bibles in total (10 to each village) were given to the workshop attendees to take back to their villages.

Bible Society New Zealand has been helping bring Bibles to children in the Pacific through the Kingdom Kids project. You can contribute to bring the hope of the Bible to children in Pacific by making a donation.

Make a donation now

Global Bible reach continues to grow

Bible reach in the key areas of distribution, translation and engagement continues to gather momentum globally.

In 2017, Bible Societies worldwide assisted in the completion of Scripture translations in 49 languages spoken by more than 580 million people.

For 20 of these languages, spoken by more than 14 million people, it was their ‘first’ ever Bible translation. Seven communities received the very first full Bible in their language, four received their first New Testament and nine communities received their first, or additional, portions of Scripture.

Languages change and develop over time. That is why Bible Societies are also committed to revising existing translations or providing new translations, when requested, giving new generations the chance to meaningfully engage with Scripture. In 2017, this resulted in 26 new translations and revisions, plus nine study editions, with the potential to reach more than 566 million people.

 

Why Bible translation matters

When a community receives the Scriptures in their language, something profound happens. People feel that God is speaking directly to them, from among them. “God speaks my language!” is a common joyful reaction as they start to experience the hope and transformation in the Bible.

While great strides have been made in Bible translation, with the full Bible available in the languages of around 81% of the global population, 209 million people across the world still do not have the chance to encounter any part of Scripture in their language. Much work lies ahead if at least some parts of the Bible are to be made available in these remaining 3,773 languages.


Sign Language Scriptures for Deaf Communities

Some 70 million Deaf people use sign languages as their ‘first’ or heart language. But only 10% of the more than 400 unique sign languages have any Scripture, and those that do have very little. No sign language has the full Bible; American Sign Language comes closest, with the New Testament.


Reaching People with Visual Disabilities

An estimated 285 million people are visually impaired, 40 million of whom are blind. Only 44 languages have the full Bible in Braille, with some Scripture available in a further 200+ languages.

Transcribing and printing Braille Scriptures is a significant undertaking: a full Braille Bible consists of more than 40 bulky volumes and costs around $825 to print. But despite the development of audio and other formats, Braille continues to be the most popular way for blind people to engage with the Bible.

In 2017, Bible Societies in 32 countries ran Braille projects to meet the Scripture needs of blind readers. Two languages received their first ever portions of Braille Scripture: Luganda (Uganda) and Khasi (India). A further four languages received additional Braille Scriptures: Oshikwanyama (Namibia), Kinyarwanda (Rwanda), Armenian (Armenia), and German (2017 Luther Bible). In Latin America, work was completed on the transcription of the Dios Habla Hoy version of the Spanish Bible, meaning that all 44 Braille volumes can now be printed on demand.


Scripture Access and Engagement

Developments in digital technology have provided unprecedented access to the Bible, and more people than ever before in history are engaging with Scripture – and sharing it, too.

The Digital Bible Library® (DBL), by the end of 2017, contained 1,735 Scripture texts in 1,269 languages spoken by 5.6 billion people. Audio Scriptures in the DBL nearly tripled in 2017 to 1,078 audio Scriptures in 732 unique languages spoken by 4.9 billion people.

The DBL, which is owned by United Bible Societies (UBS), makes the Bible accessible by providing Scripture texts to the public through partners such as BibleSearch and YouVersion.


Pray for this mission!

In summary, UBS, which includes Bible Society New Zealand, is working towards the day when everyone can access the full Bible in the language of their choice. Please pray for this mission and our vital partner organisations worldwide helping with this work.


Ready for school and armed with the Bible!

Hutt Valley school children start the school year with a first for many – a Bible in hand!

More than 200 children in the Hutt Valley have begun school not only with all their school supplies, but also many of them have a children’s Bible thanks to the generosity of Bible Society’s supporters who donated to our Pass it On initiative.

The Big Little Bible (an illustrated Bible with 30 easy to read stories) and Taku Paipera – (My Bible), the only available children’s Bible in Māori – were  on offer at Hope Centre Lower Hutt’s Back to School party.

One parent at the event commented the Bible would be useful to help explain the meaning of Christmas and Easter celebrations which her children had been asking about.

At the Back to School party excited children were kitted out in school shoes and t-shirts along with gifted backpacks, lunch boxes, drink bottles, stationery supplies and packs of Lego. Cafe food, face painting, a lolly tent, games and a bouncy castle slide were also on offer as part of the fantastical, steam punk themed event.


Sharing the real meaning of Easter with Kiwi kids

Bible Society wants to share the story of Jesus with 100,000 Kiwi kids this Easter!

“This is a huge opportunity – one that could have a remarkable impact on thousands of Kiwi children in 2018. It’s the chance to get the story of Jesus into the hands of children who may never have heard this story before,” said Bible Society Programme Director Stephen Opie.

The Super Cool Story of Jesus is a creative little child-friendly book. It tells the story of Jesus’ life, including the Easter events, in playful, rhyming language with fun pictures.

Award-winning children’s author Joy Cowley says the illustrations in the book are “stunning.” She goes on to say, ”It’s such a pleasure to see the story of Christ Jesus in a multi-cultural context, beautifully designed. These illustrations will appeal to children, enhancing a message of love and light.”

Passing on faith

“We really pray this resource will help kiwi children understand the true meaning of Easter and that parents, families and friends will engage with passing it on to the next generation,” said Stephen Opie.

Parenting expert, co-founder of the Parenting Place and also founder of Faith4Families, Mary Grant says, “Of all the ways we care for our children, it could be said that, for Christian parents, passing on our faith is the most important.

 “We are the ones who can pass on the wonderful Jesus story and the truth about the God who ‘does stuff’. Not just by living it but by talking about it at every opportunity, and when our children are most receptive.”

Get your free copy today!  

The Super Cool Story of Jesus is available to anyone. Churches are encouraged to use the book for programmes, events and activities where they have children who may not know the story of Jesus. Bible Society will also be working with partner organisations to get free copies of The Super Cool Story of Jesus to families, with a special focus on reaching families in less favourable circumstances.

Donate and help reach 100,000 kids Order your free copies