1958-1959 / NZBTI Diploma (Queen Street Campus) 1989 / Diploma of Biblical Studies (Dunedin Branch College)
I entered BTI as a young person clearly feeling the Lord's call to full-time service, but very conscious of the need for Bible knowledge and service training. Many years later at a reunion, one of the girls said she remembered me as a 'very serious student, but very happy about it.'
I loved everything about the experience. The godly staff, the solid Bible teaching, the comradeship of my fellow students, the way the Ladies Committee took a motherly interest in us. My Prayer Lady, Marjorie Bardsley, kept in touch with me until she died.
The total effect changed my life ever after.
My only regret is that I did not learn photography from Henry Yolland, who was considered to be NZ's best Leica photographer. However, he trained Ashley Tuck to be the photographer for the Africa Challenge magazine, and Ash later trained me in photojournalism. I went on to be NZ's most travelled photojournalist (163 countries.)
Mrs England took an interest in me by first of all lecturing me on my very poor handwriting (pre word-processing days). Two years of her English grammar fitted me for a job later in life when I was writing a dozen stories a month for the Bible Societies.
We had our share of student pranks. Like when the lecturer in theology suggested that perhaps his lectures were too dry, so the next day we placed a full bucket of water next to the lectern!
During my second year, I had the glorious task of being a meat carver. No mopping floors for me! The two of us on that duty would carve up four legs of mutton every day.
The Bible Society used to give each bonafide student of New Testament Greek a copy of the Greek translation. After I had retired I was privileged to present these New Testaments to the Greek class. The lecturer grandly (and incorrectly) introduced me as a person who could preach in four languages. The students were agog as I stood up to speak, saying, “There are four things I remember from my first Greek lecture: alpha, beta, gamma, delta.” There was a stunned silence, then they all burst out laughing.
As a youngster I had a slight speech impediment. We held an Open Air Service on Queen Street every Friday night and I was invited to be the speaker. I pled with the Lord to help me do this. I spoke about the hill of Calvary with never a stutter – and from that time I never stuttered again.
The worst experience was easily the early morning before-breakfast run up that terribly steep City Road!
On graduating, in gratitude to the Lord for the great privilege of the BTI training, I made a vow to the Lord that I would never refuse an opportunity to teach or preach the Word. A couple of years later I was regularly speaking in two languages three or four times a Sunday. On a visit to Oman, I spoke at sixteen churches in one day. Thankfully I never broke my promise.
I left NZ on 9 July 1960 for the Belgian Congo, to join the Brethren Garanganje Evangelical Mission (Christian Missions in Many Lands). The day after I left NZ, a serious revolution meant that all missionaries had to leave the country. But I kept going on my 65-day trip by boat and train to Central Africa. After a couple of years I was seconded for one year to the Bible Society, accepting an invitation to market the Scriptures in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi).
The British & Foreign Bible Society then asked me to join their permanent staff and take over the marketing in West Africa, based in Nigeria. Other assignments included setting up the Bible Society in the South Pacific, marketing in Indonesia, then the entire Asia Pacific Region based in Manila and Hong Kong.
After twenty-five years I became the Asia Director of the American child sponsorship programme Compassion Inc. for five years, when I had 36,000 children in five countries.
Then it was back to the United Bible Societies as their photojournalist covering their worldwide work documenting the need for and effect of the Scriptures.
Since my final retirement, I have written seven books.
I am grateful to God for every memory of BTI.