According to the Joshua Project, more than 40% of the population is unevangelized, and the harvest field is ripe for believers. Paul’s encouragement in Philippians 3:14 rings truer today than ever before—to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Gideons and Auxiliary in India and Australia have taken this command seriously and have found unique ways to share Jesus with others in spite of circumstances surrounding COVID-19.
Prayer and Personal Witnessing in India
It is estimated that fewer than 3% of people in India claim to be evangelical Christians according to Operation World. This reality inspires members of The Gideons in India to press on with reaching people for Christ. However, India is going through one of its worst crises. The pandemic is in its second wave, and the virus has infected over 30 million people.
Amid the disease, the deaths, and the unfortunate events, God is using Gideons and Auxiliary as faithful warriors striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel. It all started last year when the pandemic first hit. In March 2020, the country went into a nationwide lockdown, which brought almost every activity to a halt. There was a ban on all public gatherings—even churches. Leadership met on a virtual platform for the first time and urged the members to pray and offer whatever support they could to the pastors and elders of the rural churches who were in need.
While the educational institutions remained closed, members explored what could be done, reaching out to medical personnel and educators to express their appreciation. The Lord blessed these efforts, and they distributed 11 million Scriptures last year.
Entering 2021, there was an expectancy to return to some semblance of normal—only to be caught by the sudden surge of the second COVID-19 wave. While regular distribution channels are closed now, personal witnessing is on the rise. The Witness Pledge initiative, recently launched in India, helps members stay focused on our single objective as an Association. Each officer throughout all the state associations in India is leading members by example. By taking a pledge to share 100 Personal Workers Testaments over the course of a year, these officers are modeling what it means to be Men of Faith.
Members started a 24/7 online prayer helpline to support urgent prayer requests and volunteered their time to keep this going daily. “The pandemic couldn’t stop the work of God. The Lord has enabled us to continue to strive side by side with each other, the Auxiliary, local congregations, and Friends of Gideons,” shared Sam, a Gideon in India.
“The pandemic couldn’t stop the work of God. The Lord has enabled us to continue to strive side by side with each other, the Auxiliary, local congregations, and Friends of Gideons.” —Sam, a Gideon in India
Quarantined with God’s Word in Australia
Gideons and Auxiliary in Australia continue to press on, as well. The lockdowns stopped members from physically meeting, going to churches, and visiting distribution areas, but God was not locked down. To the leadership’s knowledge, every hotel used for quarantine of returning Australians and other incoming travelers was Bibled in advance, and guests had 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine to contemplate God’s Word. Gideon leadership in Australia received many emails from guests blessed by having God’s Word available to them. Many of the members prayed and reach out to aged care homes who had borne the brunt of the COVID cases and tightest lockdowns. There was an openness to receiving Scriptures and a gratefulness not seen before, or at least not for a very long time. Ken, a Gideon in Australia, thanks the Lord for the following success he and fellow members experienced:
We started calling our local nursing homes and had wonderful responses from CEOs, nursing directors, nurses, and receptionists. As of July 2021, we’ve given out 520 large print, over 200 white, and a number of soft cover full Bibles. We’re also telling staff about the Gideon Bible App for those who have residents from another country who would like to listen in their own language. We’ve really seen God moving in this way and several responses saying that it’s very timely.
Personal Witnessing in Everyday Encounters
God continues bringing people across member’s path, and our personal witnessing has never stopped. Lauren, an Auxiliary in Australia, is a stay-at-home mom homeschooling her four children. “My children are always me,” she says, “I’m not particularly brave or great at starting conversations. Often, I’m sleep deprived, and I stumble over my words. I usually have a child on my hip or wrapped around my ankles, sometimes both.”
“Before joining The Gideons, I can’t remember too many situations where I brought the Gospel into a conversation with an unbeliever, especially one that I didn’t know well,” says Lauren. Being an Auxiliary keeps witnessing on her radar. She now keeps Testaments next to the front door, in her bag, and in her car. She and her husband pray together for families to cross their path who need to hear the Good News. “As a Gideon family, my kids see Mom and Dad taking God’s Word seriously by reading and praying for opportunities to give it to those who need to know Jesus. Sometimes it’s my kids who prompt me. They’ll say, ‘Ask them if they want a Bible.’”
Lauren doesn’t even need to leave her house to be a witness. “Anyone who knocks on our door – tradesmen, salespeople, fundraisers – may all be offered a Testament. Online shopping can bring a harvest field of delivery workers to my doorstep. If a major appliance breaks down or we need some work done to the house, it’s not just an expense or an inconvenience; it’s a Gospel opportunity and a Testament is offered,” she says. When Lauren goes out with her children, she stays on mission often offering a Testament to acknowledge great service or simply sharing because someone has crossed her path.
“As a Gideon family, my kids see Mom and Dad taking God’s Word seriously by reading and praying for opportunities to give it to those who need to know Jesus. Sometimes it’s my kids who prompt me. They’ll say, ‘Ask them if they want a Bible.” —Laura, an Auxiliary in Australia
“I’m grateful that God would use me and my weaknesses to serve Him,” Lauren continues. “I am grateful that I can serve together with my family and I’m grateful that being an Auxiliary provides me with resources, training, role models, and encouragement to actively share Jesus as I live out my day-to-day life.”
God’s Work Continues
Gideons and Auxiliary like Sam and Laura are genuinely taking the apostle Paul’s encouragement to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” to heart. While you may never go to India and Australia, you, too, can impact your friends, neighbors, and circle of influence with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Over 40% of the world is unevangelized. God’s work continues…how can you press on?