Ross and Iris Abernethy (née Wilbore)

1965-1966 / NZBTI Diploma (Henderson Campus)

Our memories of our days at BTI are:

  • Pips rule your life

  • Fellowship with likeminded students

  • Lifetime friendships formed

  • Wise, informative lecturers who occasionally gave us glimpses into their own family lives

  • Afternoon tea with Miss Jaggers - awesome woman of God

  • Watching lecturers play tennis

  • Homeopathic training with the local chemist

The lighter moments:

  • Green porridge on St Patrick’s Day (worst part was that it didn’t have salt in it!)

  • One morning some men removed a table and chairs from a ‘girls only’ table in the centre of the dining room. They put cushions around where the chairs had been and scattered some wheat around. When breakfast started the girls sat on the cushions. Then a guy dressed as a farmer, chewing a straw, came in, put his hand under the cushions and removed an egg from under each girl – quite a laugh!

  • While studying Ezekiel, someone put all the chairs in the lecture room in a circle, “circles within circles”. Mr Pritchard, the lecturer, was non-plussed!

Our time at BTI gave us a great grounding in the whole of Scripture, including thoughts from the other side of theological debate. This helped greatly in enabling us to recognise error when we found it in the community or church. Our studies developed a love for Scripture and a thirst to discover more. And it gave me, Ross, the skills for ministry that I was able to build on later.


The training in Child Evangelism through Happy Hours was particularly useful. We used this not only while on the BTI caravan, but many years after College with Sunday School teaching and in community groups such as Girls and Boys Brigade.


The year after finishing at BTI we completed LTh (Licentiate in Theology) in two subjects, as well as spending the next 15 months on the BTI Caravan in mid-Canterbury. We travelled around schools and churches taking Happy Hours or half hours if at lunch time at school. This was a stretching time. On one memorable occasion, Iris got tonsillitis on the Akaroa Peninsula, but God was gracious and gave her enough voice to do the puppet show, while Ross coped with the rest of the programme. We ended up being the last of the “Caravangelists”.


We had three children, one born in Owaka (Ross' hometown) and the other two in Middlemore, Auckland. One of our daughters has received a Graduate Diploma in Theology from Laidlaw. Our family are now in their 50s and we have three granddaughters and one grandson.


While in Owaka we hosted and facilitated a Youth Group with games and devotions each Friday night. Later Ross was called to be a part-time pastor in South Auckland for three years. During this time we hosted BTI students as they did their Sunday assignments with us.


Then we moved into our own delivery business, then Beekeeping (Ross) and Administration (Iris).


We are currently retired – Iris at the end of 2019, and Ross at the end of April 2020. Ross was an elder at Manukau City Baptist Church for 20 years. We both continue to develop and facilitate an in-depth Prayer Ministry Team, which prays for folk after a service or for inner healing work that takes place with appointments during the week. Ross continues in Bible Study, and Iris helps the Pastor to Seniors with pastoral visitation.


As we reflect on our journey we are grateful to God for:

  • His faithfulness.

  • The ability to read and understand the Word; to look at the big picture before delving in.

  • For health, family who love the Lord, friends, a lovely home with view over Auckland.

  • Some of our friendships which were formed years ago, some before BTI, some while at BTI, and others since.

  • The love of cats over the years and dogs. Currently this is Curly, a cavoodle x, and a real mischief.

  • Developing a deep interest in ministry to the Jewish people and the opportunity to visit Israel four times, and to visit a large number of other overseas countries at different times.

Photos: Ross & Iris Abernethy Caravangelists 1967


Read more of the story of the story on the Caravangelists here: https://www.laidlaw100.ac.nz/the-caravangelists




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