Tens of thousands of children will hear the Bible story of Christmas thanks to The Well Good News of Christmas book
In just four weeks, Bible Society thanks to the generosity of our supporters has distributed more than half of the 85,000 copies of The Well Good News of Christmas to children and families around the country.
The response to this campaign to share the Bible story of Christmas has been overwhelming. It’s been fantastic to see so many families, churches and organisations keen to share the story with children in their communities.
There are still 40,000 copies available. The Bible Society is giving these away for free. To place an order, visit the special website.
This Christmas thanks to our amazing supporters we’re giving away for free 85,000 copies of the Bible Story of Christmas.
The Well Good News of Christmas is a fun and colourful booklet for parents and grandparents to help them pass on the Bible story of Christmas.
Last year, this little book was a run-away success with 3,000 copies flying out the door. Following on its heels was The Super Cool Story of Jesus, with 84,000 copies given away to children around the country with the help of churches and families.
The United Bible Societies, of which Bible Society New Zealand is a member, is a global network that reaches into 244 countries and territories.
In fact, there are only nine countries where Bible Society has no work. This is a unique and very special aspect of the global Bible Society network.
Of all these countries and territories, there are six that are operating in places considered to be ‘high risk’ for Christians. These are places where the Christian church is under high pressure. Iraq and Bangladesh are two of the six. They are struggling, and need our prayers and encouragement.
For them, everyday survival is very risky and a constant struggle. Just staying operational is challenging in these hostile, and sometimes war-torn environments. It’s fair to say that these Bible Societies are holding on by the skin of their teeth. continue reading →
Two volcanic eruptions couldn’t stop the launch of the revised Havakinau New Testament, which is now serving an unexpected purpose.
It’s bringing hope to Havakinauspeaking Christians in Vanuatu as they begin the process of rebuilding their lives and homes on other islands following the volcanic eruptions of Monaro Voui on the island of Ambae. continue reading →
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Te Paipera Tapu (The Holy Bible in Māori).
While the first ever Scriptures in Te Reo Māori were published in Sydney in 1827 by the New South Wales Bible Society, this was the first ever full Māori Bible.
A sneak peak at the upcoming Paipera Tapu app, to be released early in 2019.
But the journey of the Bible in Te Reo Māori didn’t stop there.
This edition was followed by three further versions in 1889, 1925 and 1952, as well as a reformatted edition of the 1952 text which was published in 2012.
Then there was Tāku Paipera, the only Māori Children’s Bible storybook available, launched at the end of 2016.
Now, that very first edition of Te Paipera Tapu, first published in 1868, has just been digitised. And this digitised version will be one of the many tools used to help produce a brand new translation, in more contemporary language for today’s Te Reo Māori speakers.
“Translation of any significance takes time, and anecdotal evidence suggests that contemporary Māori usage is already considerably different from the language of the current Māori Bible. So we need to be pro-active,” commented Dr Stephen Pattemore, Bible Society’s Translations Director.
A new mobile Māori Bible app is also currently in development and will feature the current Māori Bible text (2012) as well as English Bible translations for people who want to read Te Reo Māori alongside an English text such as the Good News Bible. The new app will be launched in early 2019.
Nationally-known cook, author, Destitute Gourmet founder and Food Director of Bauer Media, Sophie Gray says Bake for Bibles is a great project for kids, friends and the whole family. And very importantly, the cookies are delicious!
Bake for Bibles is our newest fundraising initiative where volunteers bake Noah’s Ark animal cookies, ice them and sell them to friends and family. Participants are given a free Bake for Bibles pack which contains cookie cutters, a Noah’s Ark presentation box, cookie packets, a booklet (including the recipe), a poster and a colouring-in sheet.
Sophie says, “I think it’s a really fun and accessible way to get the kids involved in a baking project. The animal theme is very relatable and Noah’s Ark is a familiar and popular story, whether you’ve grown up in a household of faith or not.
“So you can invite the neighbours’ kids in to help bake the cookies and tell the Noah’s Ark story and talk about what’s going to happen to the money being raised.”
Sophie also believes Bake for Bibles is a great inter-generational activity for grandparents, aunts and uncles, and Godparents who may have more patience than parents when icing gets sloshed around the kitchen by little children. “Instead they will just enjoy the moment and the connection,” she said.
“Selling baking for money is a time-honoured tradition in the Western World from bake-sales to cake-stalls.”
A Christian since primary school, Sophie likes the idea of getting the Bible to people who need it. “I feel the Bible is almost a symbol of freedom. And the freedom to know God and explore faith isn’t something that’s accessible to everyone in the world.
“So what this project does is put the freedom I have into the hands of others who wouldn’t otherwise have it by giving them a Bible,” she says.
“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 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.”
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.
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.
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 many 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.”
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.
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.
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.