Bible Society New Zealand has just given 5,000 specially designed Bibles to the chaplaincy service of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
For the first time ever, the Bibles were individually tailored to members of New Zealand’s Airforce, Navy and Army. Each of the three different editions of the NZDF Bible includes messages from the Governor General and the Principal Defence Force Chaplain Ants Hawes, along with NZDF photographs, the National Anthem and the relevant prayer for each of the Forces.
The majority of the Bibles will be given to new NZDF recruits who can choose to attest on the Bible at their swearing in ceremony. "They are then asked if they would like to keep the Bible," Ants Hawes says.
“These Bibles will be used week by week and month by month, they will not sit and gather dust.
“The Word of God is our foundation, it really is. We stand on the truth of God and I am constantly using the Bible to minister to and support people.
“People come into my office, and many aren’t religious, but they are all going through things. I say to them, 'Look I know you are going through a hard time, things are absolutely bleak but I need to tell you – I have a verse from a favourite Psalm which says ‘tears come at night but laughter comes in the morning.’ I want to assure you, as dark as it is now, better days will come.' It's amazing how often the Word of God will bring comfort, even to those who may not believe.
“The Word of God is a truth and a strength and a hope for all of our chaplains, and will continue to be so,” Chaplain Hawes said, who also wanted to thank Bible Society’s generous partners.
“We don’t take for granted the people who gave donations to make these Bibles a reality. We will treasure these Bibles and use them.”
Bible Society New Zealand has a long history of supplying New Zealand Defence Force chaplains with Bibles, going back to World War One.
Sarah Richards is a New Zealand free lance writer and former media head of the Bible Society of NZ.