1957-1958 / NZBTI Diploma (Henderson Campus)
1980 - 1987 / Registrar, BCNZ
1998 - 2020 / BCNZ/Laidlaw College Foundation
In preparing these reflections, I realise that the College has had a significant place in my life over most of my lifetime.
My first memory of BTI goes back to my early childhood. My parents, Howard and Nancy (Tucker) Knight, were young people at the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle when Joseph Kemp was the minister and he had a great influence on their lives as with many others. My mother recalled how Mr Kemp used to come around to her family home for supper after a Sunday service at the Tab. My parents were early BTI students when J. Oswald Sanders was the Superintendent and they became life-long friends. They became missionaries with the China Inland Mission and J. O. visited them there in his capacity as the China Inland Mission (CIM) Home Director for Australia and New Zealand. My father later succeeded him in that role when J. O. was appointed the General Director of the mission. Still later, it was J. O. who appointed me as the first Director for Finance and Administration of the then Overseas Missionary Fellowship which set me on the path to my role at the Bible College.
As a very small child I recall attending a children’s party at BTI in Queen Street when Miss Grantham was the Matron. For many years, there was a strong family spirit among BTI graduates.
STUDENT DAY MEMORIES
In 1957, Shirley (Barbour) and I applied to become students at BTI as an engaged couple. Being accepted as a student was a “big” thing in those days! When we applied, the long-standing policy of BTI was not to accept engaged couples together. Fortunately, in the year we applied they decided to modify the policy and we were accepted along with Howard and Jean (Muir) Carter on the clear understanding that we were expected to keep the rules! We must have performed acceptably because Howard, Shirley and I were elected as prefects (what senior students were called in those days) along with three others in our second year.
The two years at BTI were certainly formative years in our lives and many of our fellow students became life-long friends. Prior to becoming a student, I had worked for a couple of years as Assistant Accountant at the Farmers Trading Company in Hobson Street. R. A. Laidlaw, who founded Farmers, had retired at that time but he was still the President of BTI. He offered the valedictory prayer at our commissioning service when we joined OMF after graduation – who will forget the way R. A. prayed – unforgettable. The ministry, teaching and life examples of people like John Deane, Les Rushbrook, Frank England, John Pritchard, Jean Jaggers and others - including visiting lecturers and noted visiting preachers - left a lasting influence on us.
Professor Blaiklock was a member of the College Board and he usually took the second year Greek class. Unfortunately, in our second year he was on sabbatical leave but his place was taken by one of his colleagues at Auckland University, Dr Herbert Minn. He wrote a little book on John Chapter One called The Golden Prologue which I still have in my possession. I remember well his comment that people usually make a mistake in reading John 1:1 by placing the wrong emphasis on the word ‘was’. People usually read “the word WAS God”but he pointed out that it should be read “the word was GOD” – kai theos ain ho logos, not ho theos ain ho logos”. The emphasis should be on GOD not was.
I also particularly remember a comment made by John Pritchard. He said he spent as much time choosing the hymns for his services as he did on preparing the sermon – and it told. I recall how often I was impressed with how well his hymns were appropriate to his message and he was an outstanding preacher. It added greatly to the effectiveness of the service. I sometimes think that could be a good lesson for today!
A particular memory from our first year at BTI was a student performance of the cantata Esther under the baton of Rev Cliff Rae, with Shirley taking the part of Queen Esther. It was a major event which involved all the students and left lasting memories.
Shortly after our memorable graduation service in the Auckland Town Hall in December 1959, John Deane was involved in a fatal accident at Huntly in which he and several members of his family were killed. Along with many in New Zealand we were stunned at the loss. We remember well the funeral service in the Tabernacle that followed. When our first son was born in Japan in 1961 we named him John in memory of Mr Deane.
MEMORIES OF MY TIME AS REGISTRAR
In 1969, after almost ten years with OMF in Japan, I received a letter from Mr Sanders, who was the General Director of the mission at that time, inviting me to accept appointment as Director for Finance and Administration. This was the step which led to my becoming more involved in administration and paved the way for my appointment as Registrar of Bible College of New Zealand some years later. When I was a boy, I lived with my parents at the CIM headquarters in Shanghai. On Sunday evenings, there was a regular sing-song and testimony meeting in one of the apartments at the CIM HQ in Shanghai at which Mr Keeble, who was the CIM treasurer at that time (and was still in that position when we joined the mission!), often spoke. It was one of those meetings which led to my conversion. I was very conscious of the fact that I was now being asked to take the role which he had filled with great acceptance over many years. One of his favourite sayings was “More paper less muddle”. I really did not have all that much experience as an accountant and I recall sitting down at my desk in my new office in Singapore with the job of implementing a new financial system for the mission and helping offices around the world to use it!
Towards the end of the 1970s Shirley and I were considering our future as our children were getting older and we were thinking it might be time to return to New Zealand.During that time, we had visits from Les Rushbrook and David Stewart exploring if I might be available to succeed Les as Registrar of the College as his time for retirement was drawing near. I remember that during one of the prayer times in our student days I wondered if God might be calling me to join the BTI staff. In the end, we were called to OMF. Les told me that he had considered asking me to join the staff at that time but had refrained from doing so because of our call to OMF. This was a factor in my accepting the invitation to become Registrar and in January 1980 I took up the role of Registrar. Once again, I was following a very long serving and highly respected person in Les Rushbrook.
I quickly found that being involved in the administration of a mission and that of a Bible College were quite different. In Singapore, I had been one of the directors. In Auckland, although I attended the Board meetings as Secretary, my role was quite different. Although in many ways I greatly enjoyed my time in this role and made some lasting friendships with other faculty members, I found the workload increasingly difficult to cope with. Before accepting the position, I had made it clear to both Les and David that I needed to avoid stress. I don’t think either of these men, with their exceptional abilities, had much idea what I was talking about! In the end, reluctantly, I decided to resign in 1987. Later, I saw that several people were now doing jobs that I used to do. Looking back, I think that if I had had a mentor and some assistance in learning how to deal with a large workload, I might have been able to continue. This was not an easy time in my life.
Photo (Left) Men’s singing group with BTI Blazers:
Front Row: Brian Hooper, Howard Carter, Maurice Harvey
Back Row: Allan Knight, Peter Pritchard, Peter Johnson
Photo (Middle) The 1959 BTI prefects were:
Front Row (names as they were in 1959!): Ruth Martin, Beryl Scrimgeour, Shirley Barbour
Back Row: Howard Carter, Allan Knight, Ron Larsen
Photo (Right): Allan and Shirley Knight
LAIDLAW COLLEGE FOUNDATION MEMORIES
In 1998 John Massam, who had been one of the very supportive directors of the College when I was Registrar, invited me to become the secretary and treasurer of the BCNZ (now Laidlaw College) Foundation and I was delighted to accept this. I had been involved with the College support agencies during my time as Registrar, so I was already familiar with what the Foundation was involved in. John, as Executive Director of the Foundation, proposed a vision to increase the capital to $20 million. At that time, it was about $2 million so that was a bold vision. Looking back, it is a wonderful testimony to God’s guiding hand and the prayers and wisdom of the trustees that the Foundation now owns a multimillion-dollar property (worth far more than $20 million) in Henderson Valley with a new campus for the College under preparation and potential sources of income and investment for the future. It has been a great privilege to work with some very able people on the Foundation for over 21 years and to see how the original vision has grown to where we are now. In particular, I have especially valued being back in the College family again.
Adding my 8 years as Registrar to my 22 years with the Foundation I am surprised to realise I have now been involved with College-related administration for 30 years. I am grateful to God for the opportunity he has given me.