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Taking the Long Way Home

Peter Kimber EW best

Former CEO of Scripture Union England and Wales, Peter Kimber, has just published a book, entitled ‘Taking the Long Way Home,’ which charts his life’s adventures and also includes fascinating insights into the history and impact of Scripture Union around the world.

Peter, now aged 85 and living in Scotland, was born and grew up in India, where his parents were missionaries, and where he first encountered Scripture Union. He writes, “I was born to be a traveller, and a traveller before I was born, since my mother travelled three hundred and fifty miles to give birth to me, from Madras, in South India, to Ootacamund, six thousand feet up in the Nilgiri Hills.” He describes the book as ‘a collection of places and faces which helped to make my life interesting’. 

In the book he writes about an SU worker who came to his school in India, “Cecil would take evening prayers and from it all one thing has stayed with me ever since. He said, “Wouldn’t it be very strange if, instead of having three meals a day we saved all the food for one huge meal on a Sunday?” answer: “Yes of course.” Yet that is what we do with God’s word: we keep it for a Sunday. Wouldn’t it be sensible to have a bit every day – some daily bread? And to help us do that, here is a card of Bible readings. Would you like to try it?” … intermittently it has stuck with me and indeed SU has been a part of my life since then.”

The book goes on to trace his many adventures, including time in Canada, studying in Oxford, a dramatic trip to the Antarctic with the British Antarctic Survey, along with many later travels with the British Council, the Scottish Examination Board and Scripture Union, which took him to India, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Ukraine and Siberia.

Talking about why he wrote the book, Peter said, “I wanted to show that SU people have perfectly normal – and also exciting – lives, in which SU business and earning a living go side by side, with plenty of interesting things thrown in.”

Although not officially an autobiography, the book includes a lot of biographical information.  Peter explained, “My first taste of SU was aged five at a beach mission in Ireland. John Jacob, of sacred memory, was my house master at boarding school in India and later our paths crossed in SU business.”

The book explains how John Jacob had a key role to play in Peter’s developing faith. There is a whole chapter in the book dedicated to Scripture Union and recounting many adventures and experiences in different countries. One of the most topical were his visits to Russia and Ukraine, shortly after the end of the cold war.

He said, “The first time I arrived in Kyiv I had ten thousand US dollars tucked into my socks.  I was with four friends and each of them had the same amount of money hidden away. We were not hiding anything from the immigration officers, but we were hiding it from the mafia. The good news was that the money enabled SU Ukraine to buy Vorzel (SU Ukraine’s campsite centre), which made possible so many exciting developments in the years that followed.  I remember an email that said, ‘This year we had the two thousandth young person coming to an event.’” 

Peter said he watched with great interest the recent video of SUI Field Development Director, Oksana Khimich, talking about life in Ukraine during the war and another video by SU Ukraine on how the Vorzel centre has been supporting people with food and shelter during the bombing. He said, “It was encouraging to hear Oksana talk about how it is possible to know the peace of God in the middle of turmoil and fear.” 

While living in Scotland and working for the Scottish Examination Board, Peter became chair of SU Scotland for a number of years. He continued with his international links supporting SU in other parts of the world. And in 1996 he was appointed as CEO for Scripture Union England and Wales. He is now retired and living back in Scotland.

For anyone with an interest in how God has been at work around the world, both in one individual’s life and across many Scripture Union movements, this book makes a fascinating read. Proceeds from book sales will be given to support the international work of Scripture Union.

You can obtain a kindle copy of the book on amazon here: