New York City is considered the business capital of the world. With renown attractions like Wall Street, Times Square, Broadway musicals, and the iconic Statue of Liberty, an estimated eight million people have made the city their home—more than 22 million in the metro area. With 700,000 middle and high school students, 500,000 college students, 260 major hospitals and nursing homes with 80,000 beds, major prisons with over 100,000 inmates, more than 34,000 police, and 220 fire companies with over 10,000 firefighters and 3,600 EMTs, the possibilities for Gideons and Auxiliary to impact people for eternity are endless.
New York City is a true melting pot, as men and women from all over the world settle in communities and neighborhoods often reflective of their homelands. “For many of the people traveling to New York City from out of state, this is a strange land. It’s a noisy, crowded place where over 120 languages are spoken in the midst of endless traffic,” says Blitz General Chairman Tor Torkelson. “Coordinating the blitz can become exhausting, but I really think God deconstructs everything and puts it all back together again, so He can show us it’s not about us—it’s about trusting Him to make it work.”
2018 new York city blitz
One morning, Gideons visited several police precincts and fire departments to offer Scriptures. “Saturday was fire department day. A junior firefighter came out and we were able to speak with him. We gave him New Testaments, and this led to the opportunity to share the Gospel. One young man, Thomas, had a Buddhist background. After talking to us and hearing the Gospel message, he made the decision to pray and receive Jesus,” says Gideon Tim Thomas of the Aiken County East Camp, South Carolina.
Two days included chapel services and distributions at city prisons. The New York City Blitz has a long-standing relationship with Rikers Island Prison, which is one of the world’s largest correctional institutions. The jail complex has a staff of 9,000 officers and 1,500 civilians, as well as an average daily population of 10,000 inmates.
Over the years, there have been testimonies and stories of inmates who were positively impacted by the New Testaments they were given or by the discipleship offered by Gideons and Auxiliary who visited with them. Often the Gideons and Auxiliary discover they are ministered to as well.
Another morning, Gideons made over 100 church presentations in the four boroughs. In the afternoon, they partook in an event unique to the New York City Blitz – personal witnessing in Times Square. Some Gideons stayed and well into the evening, talking to people about the hope found only in a relationship with Christ.
Curtis Schmidt, a Gideon from the Newton Camp, Kansas, recalls his experience. “On Sunday we went to Times Square to share about Jesus. We grabbed a bunch of New Testaments and handed them out one at a time. When my wife and I went to get more, a lady made her way across the sidewalk and came up to us. I offered her a Personal Workers Testament. Her name was Jasmine, and her daughter, Sophie, wanted one too. We opened the Scripture and showed her the Helps in the front and the plan of salvation in the back. As she began to pour out her life to us, she said, ‘My husband left me, I’m homeless, everything I own in the world is in my backpack, and I’m headed to a shelter. I prayed only one hour ago that I could get another Bible.’ She was overjoyed to receive the New Testament. We prayed with her and she was blessed by our interaction.”
a variety of distributions
Throughout the week, Gideons and Auxiliary visited many schools, colleges, nursing homes, and hospitals to distribute God’s Word and reach people for Christ.
“One of the places we visited was a women’s shelter, says Linda Heckman of the Putnam Westchester Camp, New York. ‘The women had finished lunch, and we were able to go into the lounge and place Bibles. As we did so, the women began to line up to receive Bibles. We didn’t instruct them, they were just excited. I was introduced to a young nurse named Gloria. She was a single mother raising a 10-month-old baby. She told me her grandmother was praying for her, so I knew she had probably been exposed to the Gospel. I asked her if I could pray for her as well and show her the plan of salvation. As we prayed, she decided to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior. With every place we went, we could see the hunger in the city, the hunger to know who God is.”
After an experience with a student at a community college in the Bronx, Jonathan Bauch (Laurinburg Camp, North Carolina) said, “God is faithful. If we just trust in Him, He will take care of us. Sometimes we get rejected when handing out Testaments, but we keep on doing what we are doing because we know there are people out there who will be blessed by this work.”
Another important part of the New York City Blitz are the Bible drop teams. Organized locally, Bibles are pre-placed in nursing homes, hospitals, and hotels so chaplains or other Gideons can come by and get them. George Robinson (Nashville South Camp, Tennessee) says, “This is the greatest piece of the blitz in my mind. We leave here with Bibles, pre-call, so they know we are coming, and they are there to meet us at the loading docks or at the front of the buildings. It’s built-in time to share the Gospel with whoever is coming to meet you.” One day a drop team was parked in a standing area, and a policeman came to tell them they need to move. When they told the policeman what they were doing, he directed the team to the front of the building, where they waited for the chaplain. When she came, the team met a police officer named Clifford, who accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior.
being a vessel
The Gideons and Auxiliary on the 2018 New York City Blitz had incredible opportunities to share Jesus with people from all over the world. Some of these God-ordained moments were not directly part of a specific distribution, simply a leading of the Holy Spirit. In the end, people at schools, nursing homes, prisons, shelters, and other places were ministered to as Gideons and Auxiliary continued to fulfill the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations.