Bob Hiley, the founder of Book Aid went to be with the Lord in the early hours of the morning of 18th February. Bob (and Ada who died 18 months ago) was in Christian Literature ministry for over 60 years – 30 with CLC and 30 with Book Aid. Bob came to faith on board ship serving in the Royal Navy through reading the Bible and when in dock in Chatham found the CLC shop there. The literature ministry of CLC profoundly awoke his calling to serve God through Christian Literature. He and Ada were candidates in the old WEC Highland Road HQ back in the 1950s under the leadership of Norman Grubb and Len Moules and Pa and Ma Whybrow. They went on to serve in CLC Birmingham, Leicester and London.
The high volume of sales they achieved in the Leicester shop drew the attention of the leadership and in the 1960s, whilst in his 30s, Bob was asked to serve CLC as Leader which he did for the next 9 years. They moved on to set up CLC IRIS (International Research and Information Service) in the days pre-computer. They became part of the CLC International Office and Bob travelled widely from the 1960s onwards supporting CLC work around the world. During this time he also worked with the Evangelical Alliance to set up the missionary arm which became the Evangelical Missionary Alliance (now Global Connections).
On leaving CLC at the age of 56, he/they started a small work in the back of the car collecting used Christian books to send to African contacts who could not afford new books and so began what became Book Aid. An absolute visionary to the end, always wanting to be in active service for the Lord in literature ministry he poured himself out for God. Sometimes misunderstood in his zeal and his piercing single-minded vision, but kind and so gracious right to the end you can probably tell that we (his family) loved him and honoured him for all that he stood for and the example he set. Bob lived and breathed passion for the Word of God. Some of his co-workers will speak of the pace he set for himself and for others who had ‘to run to keep up with him’ but many also speak of the vision and action he combined so effectively for the Kingdom of God. Never someone who sought recognition or affirmation he had the enormous privilege of knowing that lives were being changed through the books he enabled to be distributed for the glory of God.
There is absolutely no doubt the legacy he has left is immeasurable.
His funeral will be in Chatsworth Baptist Church, West Norwood SE27 9HN at 12 noon on 8th March. Bob left instructions that he should be carried to the church and to the committal in the Book Aid van.
Bob specified that a photo should be taken and released to the press – ‘with a challenge to others to release what God has entrusted to them for his church work and kingdom on earth’. He did not want to waste any opportunity to envision the next generation and challenge them that when one saint goes home to glory others step up to continue the work.
Book Aid continues apace. On the very day he died requests for containers were arriving at the London warehouse. Books continue to pour in, praise God, and we are thankful to God for the privilege of continuing this awesome programme.