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Leslie William (Les) Rushbrook

1934-1935 / NZBTI Diploma, Queen Street Campus,

1936-1981 / Secretary-Treasurer/Registrar


At only 18 years of age, Les began studies at the NZ Bible Training Institute (NZBTI) in 1934, planning to be a missionary in China. However, unbeknown to Les, at that time Superintendent J. Oswald Sanders was on the look-out for someone to be his understudy in the administrative work of the Institute. Greatly impressed by this young man’s intelligence, spiritual sensitivity, and capacity to get things done, Mr Sanders invited Les to join the staff as Assistant Secretary in 1936.[1] The wisdom of this choice was abundantly demonstrated over almost half a century as Les became the very backbone of the College – providing continuity of the administration of the Institute through successive principals.


Over a span of 46 years Les served as Secretary-Treasurer (then Registrar), Lecturer in Greek and Church History, Manager of the BTI bookshop, Editor of The Reaper magazine for 40 years, and Secretary of the Institute Printing and Publishing Society. For 16 months after the death of Principal John Deane, Les shouldered many of his responsibilities until new Principal, Alan Burrows, was installed.


His meticulous bookwork and attention to detail were called upon during World War 2, when Les spent four years in the Middle East as Secretary of the YMCA. For many years he poured countless hours into the running of the Ngaruawahia Easter Convention as Chair of the organising committee, and was active in his church, Blockhouse Bay Baptist, in almost every capacity.


Les endeared himself to generations of students for his warmth and care. His memory of people was prodigious. He would often surprise new students when greeting them by name at NZBTI’s door on arrival. To aid his memory, he put applicants’ photos up on his wall and digested facts about their background before they commenced study. During his tenure as Registrar, he kept a book of the name of every graduate of the College, recording their area of service, and significant milestones. As Editor of The Reaper he collated and published news of graduates for many decades. He was also a man of prayer – daily kneeling with Principal David Stewart in his office and praying for the work of the College.[2]


Rushbrook Book

At his retirement in 1981 Les was gifted a briefcase by the Board and a fishing rod by the students. Perhaps the Board had inside knowledge – with Les continuing his association with BCNZ as a part-time lecturer, the briefcase was perhaps the more used gift!


His loyal companion and wife, Dorothy, was also involved in College life as receptionist and stenographer for a number of years (where she met Les), and later as a long-serving Prayer Lady. The couple had four children, and Les was a grandfather and great-grandfather when he passed away on 23 July 1999 at age 83.




[1] J. Oswald Sanders, Expanding Horizons: the story of the New Zealand Bible Training Institute (Institute Press, Auckland), 1971, pp 29-30


[2] Article by David Stewart announcing Les Rushbrook’s retirement: “Principal’s Page”, Reaper, Vol. 63/4, Aug-Sept 1981, pp 5-6



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