The New Zealand Defence Force is issuing new recruits with waterproof Bibles, endorsed by TV adventurer Bear Grylls, in a worldwide military first.
The act of presenting military personnel with Bibles harks back to World War I when personnel were presented with them by King George V.
Even in modern times, NZDF Chaplain Class One Lance Lukin says he still distributes around 2500 Bibles a year.
"In moments of crisis, pulling out a Bible can provide our service men and women with reassurance and strength," he said.
Chaplain Lukin is the brainchild behind the camouflaged book of faith after coming across a waterproof version in a Wellington bargain bin last year.
"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 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 Grylls, the world-renowned outdoor adventurer.
"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," Chaplain Lukin said.
Grylls, a former Territorial Army soldier 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 a waterproof Bible designed for trampers and outdoor adventurers.
Grylls writes: " have learnt though, over the years, from numerous expeditions close calls and hairy moments, from Everest, through to my time in the SAS, the Arctic and the Antarctic, that it takes a proud man to say that he never needs any help. And I have yet to meet an atheist in Everest's Death Zone or in a lifeboat!"
The book is printed with a plastic material - similar to that of bank notes.
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.
"It just seemed like the perfect solution for NZDF personnel heading into the field," Chaplain Lukin said
He 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, but are free to any service personnel who ask for them.
And while there are not yet any waterproof Korans or holy books of other religions, Chaplain Lukin said: "We are certainly open to providing these, and would be willing to talk to other faith groups who were wanting to partner with us and fund these resources."