When planning how to celebrate 175 years of Bible mission, we were unanimous – we needed to tell stories.
Stories that show the impact the Bible has had on peoples’ lives. Stories that document the role Bible Society has played in the spread of the Gospel message in New Zealand. And stories that reveal the passion and dedication for God’s Word held by Christians all over the country.
In response to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bible Societies around the world are finding new ways to reach out to people.
Here are a few of their stories.
The Bible Society of Ukraine is providing New Testaments to go with emergency food parcels provided by churches. These will be distributed to elderly people living alone, or to disadvantaged families. It’s been running a daily Gospel video on its Facebook page, which thousands of people have been tuning into under lockdown, with many subsequent enquires about purchasing Bibles.
Wherever you may find yourself today, let’s give thanks to our Lord for His undeserved grace and favour we experience. I want to encourage you to find and celebrate just one thing each day that you’re thankful for and celebrate that in giving Him the glory.
Here at Bible Society, we want to take this opportunity to thank you, our partners in mission, for your faithfulness in helping us realise our mission of helping make the Bible accessible to everyone and encouraging interaction with it.
Although we can’t be with you in person to thank you directly, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to watch the short video below; so that I can extend my gratitude to you and share how your support allowed the Bible Society mission to continue throughout the Covid-19 season.
Know that we also remember you in our prayers, trusting God to lead us all through and out of this season.
As representatives of God’s Word in Aotearoa New Zealand, during the Covid-19 lockdown, Bible Society New Zealand took an active role to alleviate the growing sense of fear and anxiety many were experiencing across the country.
National Volunteer Week celebrates the collective contribution of over 1 million volunteers who enrich Aotearoa, New Zealand. National Volunteer Week 2020 runs from June 21-27. This year’s theme is ‘Te Hua o te Mahi Tahi – The benefit of working together’. Communities are stronger when they work together.
We feel it is only fitting to take this time to join the rest of New Zealand in celebrating this special group of people since their contribution plays a vital role in enriching communities around the country.
Every journey needs a road map and a Bible translation journey, which is often fraught with pitfalls, is no exception. That’s why the United Bible Societies (UBS), of which Bible Society New Zealand is a member, has launched an ambitious new plan called the Bible Translation Roadmap.
Even though the Bible is now available in more languages and forms than ever before, there are still one billion people who don’t have access to the Bible in their own language!
Lockdown and self-isolation for 28 days. When I first heard the announcement, my mind went into overdrive trying to work out what this all meant and how I and others would handle it. For many people it is very daunting challenging and for some even frightening.
I’m grateful to God that I was drawn to a wonderful passage of scripture found of all places in the book of Lamentations chapter 3: 22-23 through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, Great is Your faithfulness.
God’s people have always had to navigate challenging times and try to make sense of them in their relationship with God.
As we adjust to this unprecedented season, how can we do this well with Jesus?
I want to really encourage us all to set patterns of prayer and Scripture reading. In the Anglican tradition, that I am part of, our daily offices of prayer come with regular readings of Scripture. Many of you may choose to use other daily Scripture devotionals. God is present to us in the scriptures and this is a time when we can really choose to dwell deeply in them with God.
I want to offer us one potential anchor from Scripture to help guide us as we come to the Bible in this season. This comes from the culminating passage in Paul’s great hymn to love in 1 Corinthians:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
As we come to our daily readings of Scripture, I want to encourage us to ask. “where do I see faith in this reading?”, “Where do I see hope in this reading?”, “where do I see love in this reading?”. These are helpful questions to guide us into the world of the scriptures. Then, take time to ask the Holy Spirit what faith, what hope, what love God wants to gift to us for our days and our lives now. Then, ask the Holy Spirit what ways we can be bearers of faith, of hope and of love to others. In a season when we can easily become overwhelmed, I want to offer this practice as a way of taking simple, small but significant steps with our God every day.
Let us come to times of Scripture reading with a conscious choice to believe in God’s deep unconditional love for us and an expectation that we can grow in that love ourselves. My prayer is that we will all grow in faith, in hope and in love during this season. Choosing to dwell even more deeply in the scriptures will help us to do this, particularly when we come to them with a confidence in God’s love for us and for the world.
May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and the treasures of Scripture be a rich and fruitful feast for you, your households and for your neighbours.
BishopEllie Sanderson is the Vice President of Bible Society New Zealand
Friends, I greet you this Holy Week in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We are, as a people, been facing an uncertain future in our country, and indeed around the world. We are bracing ourselves for this uncertainty where we learn to adjust to these challenges, the scale of which, I would never ever have imagined possible in our modern world.
The reality of being in lockdown as a nation occurred in the Lenten season. It has been perhaps the right time for us to consider deeply the trials that lay ahead of us as human beings, and as Christians.
Through Lent, and now in the holiest week in the Christian calendar, we journey with Jesus after his temptation and entry into Jerusalem, into his passion and death. We walk with him to his betrayal, his arrest and trial, subjected to the humiliation of being flogged, condemned and put to death on the cross. Even on the cross, Jesus could not escape being taunted by those next to him.
The horror and brutality of the cross causes us to bare our humanity to each other, and before God. In doing so we trust implicitly in God alone to save and deliver us.
A major disruption has transpired on God’s earth. That disruption has caused death around the world, and it has caused economies and institutions to crash. That in turn has had a massive impact on the health and well-being of the whole of humanity.
To date, there has just been the one single death as a result of COVID-19 in New Zealand. That one life seems to have sent a shock wave through our land and has awakened in us the reality of what we are facing. Everyone is taking seriously our collective responsibility to preserve all life, not just our own, but every life on earth.
We are to trust in God’s goodness and mercy during this time. We are to show Jesus’s love to our neighbour, especially those in need. Keeping this in mind and before us at all times, we know that we are never alone in our suffering.
When we come out the other side of COVID 19, we will be presented with an opportunity to push the start button, where we can build a world and a society based on the values of the kingdom of God to give us total security. Those values speak of the love of God: the extraordinary love of God, the unconditional love of God, and the extravagant love of God. God’s love is the one and only foundation for our world.
The kingdom is one which relies utterly on God to keep us: that is God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s grace and God’s peace which we know to be true and right in Jesus Christ our Saviour, the King of Kings, whose kingdom is on earth, and in heaven, where he reigns supreme now and forever.
Kia hora te marino. Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana. Kia tere te karohirohi i mua i o koutou huarahi.
May peace be widespread. May the sea glisten like the greenstone. May the shimmer of light dance before your path.
And to add the words of the Psalmist: My God bless your coming in and your going out from this day and forever more. Amen.
The Rt Rev’d Te Kitohi Pikaahu, Anglican Bishop of Tai Tokerau