A chance find in a Wellington bargain bin has led to a military world first for the New Zealand Defence Force.
Chaplain Class One (CHCL1) Lance Lukin was sifting through the bargain bin about 18 months ago when he came across a waterproof bible.
"I saw it and immediately thought ‘how cool is that’ and wondered how it could be adapted into an NZDF resource specifically for new recruits," he said.
CHCL1 Lukin emailed American publisher Bardin & Marsee who agreed to design a purpose-made Bible for NZDF personnel.
Eighteen months on and the Principal Defence Chaplain holds a copy of the purpose-made NZDF waterproof Bible, personally endorsed by world renowned outdoor adventurer Bear Grylls.
"I contacted [Grylls] through his agent and he came back and said ‘yes, he would love to do it’, and I really think it adds something pretty special to a unique publication."
Grylls, a former Territorial Army solider who served as a reservist with the Artists Rifles 21 Regiment, 21 SAS, speaks openly about his Christian faith which he describes as a great comfort in times of need.
The endorsement from Grylls is printed on each of the 5000 copies printed for the NZDF which is based on the original waterproof Bible that had been designed for trampers and outdoor adventurers.
"It just seemed like the perfect solution for NZDF personnel heading into the field," he said
To demonstrate its unique qualities, CHCL1 Lukin submerged the pocket sized publication into a sink of water then proudly rescued the read, wiping the cover dry. He explains how the book is printed with a plastic material – similar to that used for printing money.
As well as being waterproof the Bibles are also durable and designed to stand up to the rigours of wear and tear in the field, unlike the paper versions which are easily worn.
CHCL1 Lukin is confident the waterproof Bibles are a military world first - certainly none of the delegates at the International Military Chief of Chaplains Conference in Sweden earlier this year had ever heard of the initiative.
The Bibles cost $15 each to produce with the total cost of $32,000 covered by private donations from church groups, the New Zealand Bible Society and personal donations.
"Not a scrap of Government money has been paid out for the Bibles and it is my hope that I can attract further donations for a similar version to distribute to the Youth Development Unit," CHCL1 Lukin said.
The act of presenting military personnel with Bibles harks back to WWI when personnel were presented with the keepsakes by King George V.
Even today CHCL1 Lukin said he would easily distribute around 5000 Bibles in a two year period. When pressed on the Bible’s significance and popularity he said simply: "In moments of crisis, pulling out a Bible can provide our service men and women with reassurance and strength."
For further information please contact Maryanne Twentyman, Defence Communications Group on 021 441 523.