“It was in 1936 that I became seriously ill. Douwe Tamminga, an elder in my church, came to visit me at the Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago. He prayed that my life might be spared and that henceforth I would be directed into the service of Christ.”
“This appeared to be a very strange prayer. Why should God be asked to give me health and strength for such a purpose? What could I possibly do for Christ?”
“I came to the conclusion, shortly after Mr. Tamminga left, that this certainly was a ridiculous prayer.”
“But as the hours of the night wore on toward morning, it became increasingly apparent that the elder’s prayer could not easily be forgotten. It was then that my commitment to God was made.”
“If He would restore my health, I would give the strength of my body and mind in any avenue of service to which God would direct.”
These are the words of our founder, William Chapman.
In April 1938, Chapman and his wife purchased 1,000 Bibles in faith and went door-to-door in Walkerton, Indiana. They gave a Bible to anyone in exchange for a promise to read it.
Chapman could not have imagined the impact across the globe today as a result of his humble service. He could not have comprehended that God would use Him to launch a worldwide ministry more than 81 years ago.
Each year, we measure the impact people like you make through your gifts and prayers. Since Bible League started in 1938:
From underground churches, house churches, and indigenous culture churches gathering under trees, one thing remains true—spiritual transformation is happening across the globe. The great commission ministry of William Chapman that began more than 81 years ago is alive and well today.
Bible League New Zealand started under the guidance of Rev Richard Venema in late 1963 mainly as a local Bible distribution ministry.
In the early 1970s, Gerald Hanscamp from Australia travelled through the country, sharing the work and establishing bases in homes. Dick van der Pijl and Henk and Ina Kraay were in Auckland Head Office, with J van Kerkhoffe as coordinator in Wellington. This work was taken over by Mr and Mrs Koppe in Palmerston North after the death of Mr van Kerkhoffe.
Both Mrs Kraay and Mrs Koppe’s husbands died, leaving a lot of heavy work from the League to the widows. It was at this stage in 1979, that Delwyn and Lindsay Henderson of Palmerston North made their home the headquarters for NZ, handling office work and importing stock.
Norman Graham of Dannevirke travelled the North Island introducing the biblical resources among many churches in the early 1980’s along with the annual visits from Australian representatives. As a result many depots were established.
From a work of small beginnings, there has been tremendous growth and interest in the distribution of Bibles and biblical resources to the churches of New Zealand. This has been helped by the visits of Errit Petrusma of Tasmania who from 1985 regularly travelled the country.
At the end of 1986, the League managed to purchase a building in Te Atatu, which was opened by the Australian director Winston Gauder in the presence of many supporters. Under George Rose, volunteers manned the office, while the upstairs flat was let and supported the maintenance and repayment of the building.
Milestones in the History of Bible League in New Zealand
1963 Rev Richard Venema started distribution of Bibles
1971 Gerald Hanscamp, Australia, promoted work throughout New Zealand
1979 Headquarter in Palmerston North
1988 World Home Bible League- NZ was formally registered in NZ
2012 Bible League Australia and BiblesinAction (NZ) merge (1 September) Bible League Australia
2013 Registered name change from BiblesinAction to Bible League New Zealand and office moved from Henderson to Albany
2016 Office moved from Albany to Rosedale