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War, wounds and words of life

Bishop John Taylor Smith was the Chaplain General to the British Forces during the First World War. He was often to be found at the front line talking to officers and their men. He wanted to understand the conditions in which they lived, fought and died.

Taylor Smith was deeply concerned for the spiritual and moral welfare of soldiers, both in the training camps and at the front. “His job”, writes his biographer, “was to see that no man went into the trenches without having close at hand some word which would help him in the hour of danger and in the close approach of death…”. His chief question to prospective chaplains was: “What would you say to a man fatally wounded but conscious, and with only ten minutes to live?”

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Bishop John Taylor Smith at the War Office, 1915

Bishop Taylor Smith had been a member of the council of the Scripture Gift Mission (SGM) since 1910, and later was to become the President of the mission. During the War, he ensured that each soldier was given two pocket-sized, durable booklets: one a copy of the Proverbs and the other a copy of the gospel of John. They were well received and valued by most troops.

As they read the life-giving words of the gospel, “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31), many found the Saviour.

Forty three million items of Scripture were distributed during the course of the war. Each New Testament and each gospel concluded with a decision form based on the words of John 1:12,

‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

As the war proceeded and tens of thousands of men were killed, their simple belongings, as far as practicable, were returned to their loved ones. Many letters were received at the office of SGM indicating that men had written their names at the end of the decision form with the date, in some cases only a few days, or even a few hours before their death.

For the 2014 – 2018 centenary years of WW1, SGM Lifewords has reproduced a replica of the gospel of John that Bishop Taylor Smith shared. Over half a million copies have been distributed in the UK as the nation paused in sombre remembrance of the sacrifices made a century ago.

It is our hope and plan that as we remember the Gallipoli landings, and the epic battles on the Western Front in the years following, that we may be able to get a copy of this gospel booklet into the hands of many who may not otherwise read it. You may find our article on “7 ways to use the War Gospel” helpful in sharing it in your own context.

If you would like a sample copy or to order multiple copies, please order them here.

Blessings,

Rob Reeve
Chairman SGM Lifewords Australia and New Zealand

Chairman Rob Reeve with wife Lorna

Chairman Rob Reeve with wife Lorna

 

ANZAC

7 WAYS TO USE THE REPLICA WW1 GOSPELS

1. ANZAC DAY SERVICES

RSA, churches and many others have been ordering these Gospels to give away at Anzac Day services.

2. CHURCHES

ANZAC day is a commemoration of great sacrifice made for our benefit, so is a great opportunity to point people to the greatest sacrifice for our benefit – the Lord Jesus.

If your church is open to visitors, leave some WW1 Anniversary Gospels on a display rack for people to take away, especially if your church is connected to local armed forces or is close to a war memorial.

3. SCHOOLS

Schools throughout the country will be marking the anniversary of the great war in various ways. Bible in school teachers can give out the Gospels and use corresponding lesson plans from Scripture Union to learn about the WW1 Gospels and what they meant to those who received them.

4. YOUTH GROUPS

There are some tools around these WW1 Gospels that would make a great youth night. Show our short film ‘Hill 63’ to raise the question of what people would be prepared to die for. Then read the story of ‘Singing Jim’ that’s in the WW1 Gospel as a real-life example. Each teen could be given a Gospel.

5. SCOUTS, GIRLS & BOYS BRIGADE

These groups are often involved in Anzac Day and other military or civic events. We’ve already heard from cadet chaplains planning to present young people with a WW1 Gospel.

6. ARMED FORCES CHAPLAINS

Navy, Air Force and Army chaplains are using thousands of these Anniversary Gospels with those in active service. Pray for them and encourage them! And if you are involved in chaplaincy work, order your copies online for your mission.

7. SHARE JOHN’S GOSPEL

The scriptures provided such great hope for so many in a brutally dark period of our history. Read through those same life-giving words with family, friends, or colleagues who need to share in that hope.

Order yours for FREE

Lord Robert's Message

Lord Roberts’ words

Lord Roberts’ words – WW1 and the Bible 100 years on

It has now been more than 100 years since the outbreak of WW1 – let’s consider some words from Lord Roberts, last Commander-in-Chief of the Forces.

On the 4th of August 1914, the British Empire entered what was to become the First World War, and her allies soon followed. To remember WWI is not to celebrate war or to glorify it, but to mark and honour great loss of life and sacrifice, and to say (against the backdrop of a world still in conflict today) “no more” and “never again”.

When war broke out in 1914, a cry went out across Europe for bibles, testaments, and gospels to share. Scripture Gift Mission (now SGM Lifewords) began a “mobilisation” of its own printing an Active Service Gospel to provide hope for our troops. These Gospels were given freely at training camps and recruitment halls and more. Chaplains passed out pocket Gospels to men crossing to France, and soldiers slipped them into their tunic pockets to carry. Later, copies were printed for the YMCA and Church Army, and different covers were printed for the different Armed Services. There are endless different editions, only some of which have survived for archives. Gospels were also printed in Russian, with the help of the Tsar and his family, as well as German and Flemish Gospels. Forty-three million booklets of scripture were printed and distributed during WW1. An astonishing number that demonstrates the great effort and urgency with which countless people took up the challenge of sharing the Bible.

What all these Active Service Gospels had in common was a message on the inside cover from Lord Roberts, former Commander-in-Chief of the Forces. SGM Gospels can be identified, whatever their cover and however they were used, by the appeal made by Lord Roberts in the front:

“I ask you to put your trust in God.
He will watch over you and strengthen you.
You will find in this little book guidance when you are in health,
comfort when you are in sickness, and strength when you are in adversity.” 

Lord Roberts recognised that the gospels offer guidance, comfort, and strength. The cover instructed recipients, “Please carry this in your pocket and read it every day.” Read the story of God with us every day. Read the words of The Evangelist promising the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 | NIV. Read about the kind of love that goes all the way to death. Read about the promise of “life from above” for those who “put your trust in him”. These Gospels didn’t come with a sermon inscribed in the front, or instructions on doctrine and belief, they were given out in the darkness and horror of war as “guidance, comfort, and strength”.

We are offering a replica edition of the Active Service Gospels as “guidance, comfort, and strength.” Almost one million copies of the Gospel have been given around the world, offered as words to make of what you will, and what God will. Words that speak directly to hearts today, just as they did 100 years ago. Without comment, without a sermon, simply the story of Jesus told by John, offered as the most important story we could tell.

Will you join in making the same appeal Lord Roberts made?

“I ask you to put your trust in God”

Order your Active Service Gospels today here – FREE to all

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Indonesia | Confronting

My first day in Indonesia can be summed up with one word – confronting. Confronting because of the wonderful colour, joy and enthusiasm everywhere. Confronting also because of the great poverty and suffering many have endured.

“Selamat Pagi” (good morning in Indonesian) are the words that started our day. We are in Indonesia this week to encourage and support the great work over here. I was so encouraged to join a class of around 45 students who have just started at Pelita Dunia Theological Seminary. They will study for five years, preparing for a lifetime of gospel ministry. Many of these students come from poor villages spread across Indonesia’s 922 inhabited islands, and arrived in Jakarta not knowing how they will pay for their study. It was a real delight to see their enthusiasm in singing, studying the scriptures, and learning how to share the message of Jesus in a context where many are illiterate.

Later, we visited a church service in a leper colony also in Jakarta. I was struck by how the gospel has transformed the lives of people who have suffered so greatly as outcasts in their society. Imagine living for over 40 years without any physical contact from another human being!!! That has been the reality for some here, yet to sing with them, and hear them talk of the love of Christ they have, paints such a beautiful picture of what hope in heaven looks like in this desperately broken world!

I am so thankful for your partnership in the gospel that means this valuable ministries continues! Join with me in praying for these dear brothers and sisters in Indonesia, and for the many here who do not know that hope!

Tuhan memberkati (God Bless),

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Pohutukawa red flowers blossom on the month of December over a sandy beach with a small fishing boat doubtless bay New Zealand.

7 WAYS TO BE MISSIONAL THIS CHRISTMAS

Christmas presents a great opportunity to share God’s word and the real meaning of Christmas. Here are 7 ideas on how you can make this Christmas bigger and better for others around you:

1 | Share a Meal

Sharing a meal with someone is such a good way to really get to know them, so why not invite people to a meal or a BBQ at your place. Look for opportunities to listen to their story, and share together what Christmas truly means. At the heart of Christian hospitality is welcoming and loving strangers – you don’t need to serve an ornate meal, just invite people into your home and life.

Christmas_a little story2 | Share God’s Word

God has spoken powerfully in his Word, revealing himself and giving life to his people through it. Give the gift of God’s word at your Christmas event, church service, or even in Christmas cards. I would love to send you some copies of  “A little story about something big” as one option. Order copies here for FREE!

3 | Pray for People

We have a wonderful and loving God who delights in answering our prayers! Pray for God’s mercy and love for people this Christmas. Offer to pray for people who are sick, stressed, lonely or tired throughout the Christmas season. Most people will see it as kind & caring.

4 | Serve Those in Need

We have received so much as people dearly loved by God, so it is fitting for us to find ways to practically love others who are in need! Serve the poor and needy in you area by helping at a local aid organisation, or getting involved in a soup kitchen or shelter.

5 | Celebrate Christmas Together

The gospel breaks down cultural and social barriers, uniting us in the love and hope we have received. A great way to express that is to organise a Christmas party and invite those who are on the outer – try to include people who don’t have family, are single mums, or people away from home.

6 | Visit People

Christmas is a time we share with friends and family we love, but it can also be such a lonely time of year for some people. Even the small act of visiting a retirement village to sing carols or share some Christmas cake could be such an encouragement. Take time to sit and read the story of Christmas with those who are often forgotten and neglected.

7 | Give God’s WordSGMLW7253_Silent Night fc

Another way to give God’s word this Christmas could be the “Silent Night” booklet from SGM Lifeword’s. It details the amazing Christmas Truce story from WW1 – putting down weapons in a rare moment of peace. Isn’t that what Christmas is about? Order copies for FREE here.

What are Your Ideas?

I would love to hear your ideas of how to share God’s life words over the Christmas period. Let us know in the comments section below.

Dave Profile

Meet our NZ Coordinator

Hi there!

I am Dave and I am excited to introduce myself as I join the Lifewords team and re-establish more of a presence in New Zealand. I live in Auckland with my lovely wife and our two mischievous boys. We love the Lord Jesus and the Word of God, so I am thankful to be part of a movement that has at it’s heart putting the Word of God in peoples hands.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

[Heb 4:12, NIV]

ANZAC Gospels – now available!

We have available a replica edition of the actual Active Service John’s Gospel (NIV) given to serving Allied troops during WW1. This has been HUGELY popular in the UK and Australia and is available for you to order and give this Anzac Day.

This gospel is re-issued for the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The replica is useful for commemoration services, school groups, and active service usage.

Order your pack of 10 HERE...

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Some of the faces blessed by Aus-NZ Mums!

The Aussie Mums 4 Indo Kids Christmas campaign was all about sharing Christmas generosity with children and the city poor who never get to experience Christmas. So many of you added some children to your Christmas list, providing a present, lunch and a care pack to over 1250 kids in Indonesia! Here’s some of the faces of those who were blessed. We’d like to say THANK YOU and we hope you join us again next year!

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Giving Christmas to kids who never get one!

2015 was the first year of our Aussie Mums 4 Indo Kids campaign where over 140 Aussie Mums - Christmas lunch ran out_KFCreplacementAussie Mums gave so that Indonesian street children can get Christmas. These kids watch as the middle and upper class celebrate Christmas among themselves, and our Lifewords team thought it was not good enough to enjoy Christmas knowing that these kids go without. Surely we can make a difference – and we have!!

 

AussieMums - Christmas gifts2Over 1250 kids were blessed because of the generosity of Aussie Mums, who really know how to give great gifts at Christmas. In the Western world, we often make the mistake of circulating generosity among ourselves and forget those who have nothing! Not this year. $11,000 was raised to share with Indonesian Kids, and we’re sure that this is just the start. These photos show some of the kids who received a Christmas gift, lunch and a Care Pack containing toiletries and hygiene kits. When they received their gifts, so many of children were overwhelmed with the thought that people in another country would care for them and make Christmas special for them.

“I didn’t know I would get a present this Christmas. But them Mr Gunar came and we sang some songs with the group, ate lunch together and then received a present. It is my first present.” Assa, 12 yrs old

AussieMums - Christmas Gifts_GunarGunar (pictured) has felt so blessed that Aussie Mums would think that his ministry is valuable enough to support. They would honestly work with thousands of people living in shanty towns and city slums, and for them to be able to provide Christmas is a HUGE blessing to their ministry. And although the goal was originally $12,500 for 1250 kids, our team were able to make the $11,195 spread to still reach 1250 kids, even if the last few ended up with KFC boxes! But they were still happy, as it was the first time they had every had KFC!

One final thought: Our Lifewords team know these kids by name. They work with them week-in, week-out. They regularly bring rice and milk as they run education programs, outreach events and weekend ministry. To provide Christmas is like the icing on the cake to a fruitful year of ministry and hard work. Thanks so much for being part of it!!

 

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Aussie Mums for Indo Kids – Christmas Campaign

LAUNCH DATE: Monday, 9th November!!!

Aussies are generous and love giving gifts at Christmas. There’s plenty of feasting, gifts and happiness – and it’s great! Our Lifewords team in Indonesia are working weekly in poor communities, spreading that same love & generosity to street kids and orphans.

Last year, our Indonesian Director, Gunar, and a team of students wanted to bring Christmas joy to those who never get to celebrate. They took whatever funds they could muster up and bought gifts and lunch for the city poor who have to watch on as everyone else does Christmas. And, wow, what an impact for that community! The reality is that if Gunar and team had more funds, they could do the same for so many more. Here’s where we step in…

With a team of volunteers and a bunch of generous Aussies behind them, we can join Gunar and give Christmas to 1250 of the street poor who would be blown away by the love shared with them. It’s not that hard for us, but would mean the world to them!

We would love it if you joined the cause and helped make it happen. The action step is super-simple: $10 gives Christmas to an Indo kid. $100 = 10 kids. You get the drift. You would bless those kids MASSIVELY!! Better still, we’d love you to become an advocate and sign up for a “personal fundraiser page” in the top right corner here! Pick a target goal for yourself and get family & friends to join your cause as you become an Aussie mum for an Indo kid this Christmas.

View the campaign and join at www.aussiemums4indokids.causevox.com

UPDATES


 

WE’RE AT 200 KIDS!!! PLEASE JOIN US HERE