History of Good Books
History of GBET in its essence is His (Jesus) story. People whose life is transformed by Jesus desires to be like Jesus and dreams that all may become like Jesus.
This is what happened in the life of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Kniss. In 1950, they left all the comfort of a developed American civilization, culture, language and people but chose to come and proclaim the teachings of Jesus in India in the time when India was not an attractive tourist destination.
Rev. P. G. Kniss & Esther Kniss
Of all the places in India, they started a small bookshop in Ranchi in 1961. With the support of the Bihar Mennonite Mission and the Bihar Christian Council, a ministry with the name Good Books was established. Gradually, the Good Books grew through the patronage of the people of Ranchi and God's blessing until 1970. In the same year, because of the powerful and effective personal ministry of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Kniss, Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church agreed to lease land on the Main Road to Good Books for 50 years. Then in 1989, a bigger premises was developed on Main Road in Ranchi.
The Bihar Mennonite Mission, who were the founders and original owners of Good Books decided to register Good Books as a non-profit company and handed it over to a Trust composed of leaders of the local Churches. In 1974 the Good Books Trust Association Pvt. Ltd. (GBTA) was registered as a company. As per the byelaw, the trustees are the heads of the main Churches in the area - the Bishop of the Church of North India, the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pramukh Adhyaksha of the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Secretaries of the Bihar Mennonite Church, the Bihar Auxiliary of the Bible Society of India, the Bihar Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches.
Earlier four bookshops were opened - one each in Calcutta, Bokaro, Lohardaga and Gumla. A book Van also purchased to take books into remote rural areas, and to Schools. The Van was given for this purpose by Mennonite Central Committee, an international development organization. Good Books always had the motto "At your Service". The staffs tried to do their best to render courteous and efficient service to the local Churches. For various reasons with the change of time, some of the bookshops had to be closed down. Currently the GBTA owns bookshops in Ranchi and Lohardaga and the GBTA activities are carried on by a local management committee.
With the growth of the ministry of Good Books, Mr. Paul Kniss realized the need of another ministry that would enlarge the vision of reaching out the unreached places in India. Hence, in 1976, Good Books Educational Trust (GBET) was registered as a Trust. As per the byelaws, the members of Trusts were the same as the GBTA so as to allow the leadership of the local Churches. This ministry played a vital role in making the story of Jesus known far wide through the media of movies, radio, and printed media. It also took the responsibility of publication and distribution of Hindi magazine "Masihi Ahwan" that aims for spiritual and moral transformation of Christian community in Hindi speaking region. GBET has been active in helping educational institutions by providing books for library, scholarship, and also by providing health, agricultural, and other transformational education through radio and printed media. It established studios where useful educational radio programs and songs are produced.
In 1993, due to deteriorating health of Mrs. Esther Kniss, the couple had to return to USA. For this reason, Mr. R. S. Paul, an Engineer and a visiting friend of Mr. Paul Kniss, was invited to carry on the ministry. Mr. Paul resigned his secured job and joined Good Books as the Managing Trustee of GBET. While serving with GBET, Mr. R. S. Paul also served as Radio Producer for Words of Hope. This connection enabled new partnership of the Good Books with the Words of Hope. In 2006, the Mennonite Central Committee decided to handover the GBET to the Words of Hope for all management and continuity.
R. S. Paul
Under the leadership of Mr. R. S. Paul, all the programs that were produced by Trans World Radio for Words of Hope were transferred to the Studio in Ranchi. He was also instrumental in developing partnership with Herald of Hope, Harrisonburg, USA. Later in 2009, since the Words of Hope entered into partnership with Back to God Ministries International, GBET. The GBET ministry expanded into three studios-namely Ranchi, Jaigaon, and Lohardaga. However, the studio in Jaigaon has to close down in 2012. While the ministry in Lohardaga expanded with inauguration of a new building in 2013. The building housed a studio, a public health clinic, a seminar room, a books store, and now a new project Naya Savera (New Morning) to provide free education to children coming underprivileged families.
After a long dedicated service, Mr. R. S. Paul retired in August 2014 and the new nominee of the Words of Hope and Back to God Ministry International, Rev. Dr. A. K. Lama is appointed as the new Managing Trustee.