This year there has been a lot of press coverage on the growing prison population in NZ. No matter what your view on our present justice system, we need to remember that behind the numbers are actual people, people who need to hear the gospel and our family of churches has a ministry opportunity that has been operating now for forty-five years.
Early in the 1970s the GPH began printing, publishing and marketing Bible Gem calendars which provided a verse for each day of the year in a monthly format with a NZ scenic picture. In 1973 at the suggestion of Invercargill believers, who had used it for distribution in their local prison, the print run was extended by 2,400 calendars so that they could be offered as a gift from NZ assemblies that Christmas, to every prisoner. Appropriate arrangements were made with the Justice Department for the prison chaplains to make the distribution, which has continued ever since.
We know prisoners appreciate receiving these calendars because we receive letters asking when the next year’s one will be available, and we receive calls from prison chaplains concerned if the calendars have not been delivered to them by the end of November.
Each calendar has two inserts offering free Bible study courses from Emmaus Correspondence School who distribute, mark and communicate with those who respond. Each year hundreds of prisoners take the opportunity to learn more about the good news of Jesus Christ. We also receive feedback from prison chaplains who have stories of the impact a verse of the day has had on a prisoner, or the discussion it has enabled them to initiate. These calendars are a great example of 1 Corinthians 3:6 in action – One sows, another waters and still another harvests – but it God who has been making it grow for His glory.
For those of you who may never have heard of GPH, or have wondered what happened to us, here is a brief background.
Originally called Gospel Publishing House, it was established in 1900 to print and distribute Christian literature and operate a Christian Bookshop in Palmerston North. Subsequently it owned up to five stores throughout NZ then later became an importer and wholesale distributor to the rest of the Christian book trade in NZ and for a time in Australia.
As with all business, changes in printing and distribution technology meant that both wholesale and retail trading were no longer an effective, efficient or wise investment so GPH withdrew from these operations.
It wasn’t until these larger operations ceased that the board reviewed and realised the gem of a ministry the Bible Gem’s calendar was (pun intended – sorry).
GPH was originally registered as an Industrial and Providential Society, transferred to a charitable company and is now operating as a Charitable Trust. Due to our long association with GC3 the trustees have decided to pass trusteeship of our Deed to the executive trustees of GCiM (one of the trusts operating under the banner of GC3). From this year, letters requesting donations will come from the GC3 office as all administration will be handled by them.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the trusts, churches and individuals who have faithfully and generously sent donations for this cause and assure you that the good work is continuing. Will you also please continue to support this ministry with your finances and prayers. People are being won for the Kingdom and the glory of God.
BRUCE STORMER | Trustee of GPH Charitable Trust | Chair of GC3