THE LOST BIBLE
As children we only had two holidays, and then only with our mother. Our parents had a horticultural business, mainly with ferns and such flowers as fresias to supply florists. One holiday was to Akaroa, a lovely little town in the Akaroa Harbour on Banks Peninsula, a comfortable drive from Christchurch. We stayed upstairs on the second floor in the guest house, in the Family Room. From the upstairs window there was a great view of the jetty and harbour. It was January, and we went for walks and swam in the sea. It was a favourite holiday venue for my grandparents also, and even for my great-grandparents I was told. We had our Bibles with us so that we could do a Bible reading in the evening.
When we got back to Christchurch, my brother discovered that he had left his Bible in the guest house in Akaroa. Big sister told him off about not being particular with this special book.
“Don’t say that,” said my Father. “There might be a reason why the Bible was lost.” And he proceeded to tell me a story.
My father was called Bill by his family. He had been in Australia mainly attending sporting events, boxing in country shows. He returned to New Zealand at a bad time. It was the early 1930’s and the depression was at its height and there was very little work. He travelled south as far as Dunedin but couldn’t get work there, so made his way up the South Island, overnighting where he could. In Wellington he attended Mass. Confession comes before Mass, and kneeling in the box, he looked up to see the priest looking at him through the grill. The advice was he “should get a nice Catholic girl and get married”. As he watched the plate go around the congregation – many were poorly clad, he thought of the need for a new shirt for himself, and let the plate go pass – for the first time he put nothing in it. This was the last time he went to Mass.
Photo: Bill (then known as Tim) Slattery
The government organised relief camps in which single and sometimes married men would be taken to areas away from towns for road building, tree planting and so on. Bill was put into one of these camps. He arrived to take his place in a two man tent. The previous man had managed to get a job in Auckland and had left a few belongings behind along with some books. Life was lonely with little to do and the books were very welcome. Bill found a Bible and thinking about his Uncle Jack Brewer and Uncle Jack Hossack who had told him several times he ought to read the Bible to see the right message, took the opportunity to read it – to find out for himself. After some weeks of reading, he was left with the very definite opinion that only one could be right, because certainly the Bible and the Catholic religion did not agree!
“So, you see,” said my Father, “there could be someone like me who needs to have a Bible available so that he can read it. God causes some things to happen to give people the opportunity.”
As the depression eased, more work became available. Bill got a job at the Westfield Freezing Works in Auckland. This was where he met the Deadman brothers. Years later he used to quip “a dead man brought me life.” The Deadman brothers were Christadelphians, a lay group of Bible students who looked for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the restoration of the ancient Kingdom of Israel, according to the promises of God. The years immediately preceding the war were exciting, uncertain days. Those familiar with Biblical prophecies were looking at the European scene, which was growing tense with the prospect of war breaking out. Hitler had come to power and an agreement had been made between him and the Pope (1933). The restrictions placed upon the German Jews were a portend of the holocaust yet to come. Though the scene was very dramatic, yet the eyes of the Christadelphians were also on Russia. For Bible prophecy is clear that it is Russia’s imperial aims that will bring all nations into the Middle East to Battle.
Those familiar with Biblical prophecies were looking at the European scene, which was growing tense with the prospect of war breaking out. Hitler had come to power and an agreement had been made between him and the Pope (1933). The restrictions placed upon the German Jews were a portend of the holocaust yet to come. Though the scene was very dramatic, yet the eyes of the Christadelphians were also on Russia. For Bible prophecy is clear that it is Russia’s imperial aims that will bring all nations into the Middle East to Battle.
Photo: Left to Right – Sis Ada Walker (obscured), Sis Emma Walker, Sis Olive Beaumont, Edith, Bro Vic Beaumont, Tim (Bill) (Married Edith Fullwood, Auckland Registry Office, November 1941,) Cousin Mavis Taylor, Aunt Peg Brewer.
Henry Deadman was very keen to show Bill what effect the European political scene would have on the future. There were four Deadman brothers, Henry, Lionel, Claude and Maurice. Their parents, also Christadelphians, attended the Meeting at a hired hall, Unity Hall, Queen Street. Bill began to attend the Sunday evening lectures and people enjoyed talking to him. He was skeptical for a start. “I’ll give you six months,” he said “to see if there is anything in it.” He had recently been associated with the Rosicrucians, sort of philosophical free thinkers.
Bill (known as Tim now) was baptised on June 13, 1941 into the Hope of the Promises and the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The baptism brought Tim new direction and meaning in life. And being of studious nature, getting down to books was just second nature to him. He read the Bible closely, and used reference material to check the translation. As a lay religious body, those able are called upon to speak to various subjects, and so Tim began to address the mid-week Bible Class, and he had a style all of his own.
Sister Beulah Edwards (Christchurch NZ)
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