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Mr Bible goes international

Mr Bible, the Reverend Barnie van der Walt (right) and young admirer, Ian Petherbridge share joyful memories at a Windhoek garden party. The Reverend van der Walt tied the knot between Petherbridge and his bride at the couple’s wedding in Swakopmund.

Mr Bible, the Reverend Barnie van der Walt (right) and young admirer, Ian Petherbridge share joyful memories at a Windhoek garden party. The Reverend van der Walt tied the knot between Petherbridge and his bride at the couple’s wedding in Swakopmund.

The Rev. Barnie van der Walt, CEO of the Bible Society of Namibia is one of only three Africans serving on the newly-elected Global Council of the United Bible Societies (UBS). This council represents all continents of the world in matters of Bible translation and distribution.
The council consists of 24 members of which 12 are new. Of these new council members, three were selected to represent the African continent, from a list of dozens of aspiring council members. The other two Africans are from Cameroun and Ghana.
The UBS is made up of 146 Bible societies operating in over 200 countries. Together, they are the biggest translator, publisher and distributor of the Bible in the world. They are also active in areas such as literacy training, HIV and AIDS prevention and other holistic projects. Bible societies are inter-denominational and work in partnership with all Christian churches and other organizations.
Reverend van der Walt joined the Bible Society of Namibia as CEO in 1998. Under his leadership the Bible Society became a full member of the UBS in 2012 and also established itself as one of the best fundraising Bible societies in Africa. The focus of the local Bible Society is on placing the Word of God in the hands and hearts of all Namibians.
Since 2005 he served as a member of the Africa Area Board for which he was elected as chairperson of the Finance Committee of the Africa Area in 2009. He also served as a member of the Africa Literacy Committee and was recently elected to serve on the executive committee of the Global Literacy Affinity Group. Furthermore, he has been honoured to be invited (as one of two Africans) to attend the UBS’s Digital Publishing Development Summit in November in Canada.
In Namibia, Barnie is well-known, acquiring the nickname Mr. Bible, a reflection of his passion for the Bible.
He and his wife Milankie ‘conquered’ Kilimanjaro in 2009 and the project Kili for Bibles is still unequalled in terms of income generated for a single project for Bible distribution. His energies reach wider than only the Bible Society; the well-known annual Biltongfees, is an event he started 21 years ago. Equally famous is his annual Walk for Bibles event conducted in many of the larger towns.

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