Category Archives: Global News

In Search of HIs Excellence

In Search of HIs Excellence

What happens to your Christianity when you go to work? It seems like a simple question, but you’d be surprised at some of the difficult answers I hear from other Christian businessmen and professionals. While many take their faith right through the front door of their occupation in a blaze of glory, others pause at the doormat. They pause at the prospect of being labeled or not wanting to infringe upon others.

In contrast, most everyone is quick and passionate to answer the question, “What do you do for a living?” Our identity is tied to our work. However, if believers’ identity is also tied to Christ, somewhere between Sunday and Monday, there can be a disconnect. The marketplace is one of the most complex scenarios to be thrown into as a Jesus follower. We are tempted to conform to the world in the struggle for the legal tender. There are integrity issues, competition, and demands on our personal time. Work can often become more of a means to an end called “the weekend.”

We all want a sense of belonging at work because it’s where we spend most of our time. Some even speak of their companies as family, at least until a layoff occurs. But when we do step out to share the Gospel, our faith can be seen as a clique or even a crutch. It’s no wonder many believers dream about going into “full-time ministry.” But as author Hugh Whelchel pointed out in How Then Should We Work?, God doesn’t just send ministers to give the world sermons; He sends doctors to give medicine, teachers to impart wisdom, and businesspeople to serve. In other words, no single vocational pursuit is superior to another in God’s eyes.

As Gideons, our history is about bringing our witness to work. In the beginning days of our Association, traveling salesmen would catch a train on Sunday night to journey across a region. During their business week, many were without accountability and restraint. They were known for their heavy drinking and card games that filled the hotel parlors to pass the time. But when the Association’s founder, John H. Nicholson, got on a train, he laid out his evangelical campaign like a general. Many were seen leaving the train at the next stop with a tear in their eye or a Gideon emblem on their lapel.

Not only are Gideons still winning others to Jesus Christ as traveling salesmen, but also as managers, lawyers, teachers, doctors, military and government employees, and business farmers. It’s still about being faithful in the little things. As author Zig Ziglar said, “Unfortunately, too many people labor under the illusion that unless they can do something monumental, they have achieved nothing in this life. That’s too bad because pleasant smiles, words of encouragement, and examples of gentle kindness and consideration for others are much more needed in this society today.”

Not only are Gideons still winning others to Jesus Christ as traveling salesmen, but also as managers, lawyers, teachers, doctors, military and government employees, and business farmers.

Occupational Hazards

I don’t have too dramatic of a testimony, but it was all business. I grew up in a good Catholic home. In college, I read a book called Power for Living about successful leaders who were unashamed of the Gospel—businessmen like Holiday Inn founder Wallace Johnson and insurance giant Arthur B. DeMoss. That book, and a friend named Howard, brought me to my knees and a true understanding of Jesus Christ.

After graduation, I worked for an entrepreneur named Mike, where my faith first got tested. I was COO of his technology company. He was one of those book-of-the-month managers where the whole company read the same business book, such as In Search of Excellence. One day, an employee named Kelly asked Mike if we could read from a book she liked called the Bible. Mike was shocked and later asked me, “How can anyone just sit in the back seat and let God drive their life around?” Not wanting to jeopardize my steady income, I didn’t answer. I was in the proverbial trunk of the car. That was the epiphany I needed to start living out my faith. I booked a trip to Israel. I read the Bible cover-to-cover. I stepped up to serve at my church. And I eventually became a Gideon to continue my accountability. I got out of the trunk.

So why don’t more believers share our faith more at work? Lee Strobel, the author of The Case for Christ, suggested, “I’ve seen far too many Christians who are more than willing to travel halfway around the world to volunteer for a week in an orphanage, but who cannot bring themselves to take the personal risk of sharing Jesus with the co-worker who sits day after day in the cubicle right next to them.”

I asked Pastor Howard Malone of The River Church in Waynesboro, Missouri, about why work and faith don’t always seem to want to share a cubicle. He believes fear gets in the way, and we don’t want to risk being rejected by our co-workers. Further, some may have given up witnessing at work because they haven’t seen any immediate results.

Having served in the military, Pastor Malone added you might be subject to certain limitations. It will also depend on what country you’re in. While employees in the USA have broad rights to express their faith to co-workers, you can’t allow religious discussions to interfere with your work, according to David Gibbs, founder of the Christian Law Association. He also said if a co-worker indicates directly or indirectly that they don’t wish to discuss matters of religion, that’s the end of the sermon.

Perhaps this is why so many Christians in the workplace subscribe to what St. Francis Assisi supposedly said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” While this sets a good example, Jesus used a lot of words, says Vince LaPoint, a software engineer and Gideon. LaPoint has worked in large corporations and small, but his faith has always gone with him no matter what size the door. He’s led Bible studies at work, and when the office environment doesn’t seem right, he takes people out to lunch. “While it is true not every person has a spiritual gift of evangelism, we are all called to do the work of an evangelist,” he added.

Our membership includes many who own their businesses. You would think that would be easier, but as Perrin Prescott, former president of The Gideons International, is quick to point out—there’s really no such thing as a Christian business. “A business is an inanimate object. It’s a group of people. But what you can offer them is Christ-like management.” Prescott recently retired from his industrial pump company in Exeter, New Hampshire. “It was easy when I owned my business because I was able to set the tone and culture. But there are benchmarks along the way that test your consistency.” Prescott had one customer bring in a pump for repair, but it was inoperable. The customer asked Prescott if he could zap it with some high voltage so an insurance claim could be filed. Prescott said no way. The customer replied, “Good, because I would have lost my respect if you tried.” Sometimes it’s better to be good at consistency instead of trying to be consistently great. 

Sometimes it’s better to be good at consistency instead of trying to be consistently great.

Thank God It’s Monday

The Gideons International has always sought members who, by virtue of their jobs, made decisions and had a measure of freedom regarding their time and resources. That would include teachers like Bruce Chadwick, a Gideon from Michigan. Chadwick said, “Years ago, it was okay to start my fifth-grade classroom with the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence.” While these practices have changed, God’s Word hasn’t. When Chadwick became a school superintendent, he started recognizing each employee’s birthday with a GideonCard and a personal word of encouragement. “I usually received a positive response from my co-workers and never heard anyone objecting to a card that stated I was making a donation to purchase Scriptures in their honor.”

Praying for co-workers can lead to open doors, as Colossians 4:2–3 says. In Gideon Dave Morel’s book, The Secret to an Open Door, he wrote, “When we’re in our comfort zone, we rely on ourselves. When we step out in faith, we are with God. How many times does He say, ‘Surely, I will be with you?’” Morel adds, “Satan is slick—he’s not concerned about our prayer lists as long as they don’t include the lost.”

If we look back at the apostles’ lives, we can clearly see how they worked in the marketplace. They had an intimate personal relationship with Jesus. They welcomed the works of the Holy Spirit. And they prayed against the fear of man in Acts 4:29 (ESV), “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.” The apostles didn’t have pocket Testaments, but they had many Roman roads built to reach new marketplaces. They had a common language and common currency. They had law and order with Paxus Romanus. Today, we have the Internet, planes, electric cars, cell phones, and Starbucks. There’s no excuse. But we also live in an age where many Christians see more Scripture on Facebook than from studying their Bible.

There was a time when Christians talked about a “calling” to work. Then we all read What Color is Your Parachute? and our careers became about finding our passion. However, Scripture says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” in Colossians 3:23 (ESV). Perhaps the adage “do what you love” should have “remember Whom you do it for” attached to it. Excellence is attractive, and if we bring it to work, along with the story of our hope, it’s an excellent strategic plan. As Andre du Plessis, trustee of The Gideons International in South Africa, and a business owner, says, “By selling our products, we change the way people live, but we change the way people see God through our way of doing business.”

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” —Colossians 3:23 (ESV)

Together Is Better

Together Is Better

An Auxiliary praying with her Gideon husband

The Great Commission instructs believers to advance the Kingdom of God. The Gideons International provides a unique way for Christian business and professional men to see people come to Christ. Officially, the role of an Auxiliary (wife of a Gideon) is to assist her Gideon husband in this mission through prayer, personal testimony, personal work, association for service, and placing and distributing God’s Holy Word in approved areas. Yet, the role of the Auxiliary is even more significant considering the partnership of holy matrimony. The wife of a Gideon brings encouragement, support, and gentleness. As an Auxiliary, I share in this blessing serving alongside my husband, Mark.

A verse that became near and dear to my heart in this 28-year journey as an Auxiliary is Acts 6:4 (ESV), which reads, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” I take great delight in praying for Mark and supporting him in his ministry endeavors. Something else I have learned along this journey is that there is immeasurable impact and spiritual blessings when a wife joins in ministry alongside her husband.

The Blessings of Auxiliary in My Life

A couple of years ago, David W. Martin, former international president of The Gideons International, talked about the powerful influence both his mom and wife have played in his life as Auxiliary. He shared the following:

For many years, I have significantly benefitted from living within the sphere of two Auxiliary. First, I was blessed to live within the sphere of influence of my mom as an Auxiliary. After Dad joined The Gideons International, it did not take long before he began talking to Mom about coming with him to the Gideon meetings. Dad valued the fellowship of those men, but nothing could compare to having Mom involved with him in this amazing work.  

 

Mom began attending the camp meetings, and after several months, she joined the Auxiliary. As she entered the sphere of influence of some godly ladies in the Auxiliary, she found a wonderful environment where she could grow personally and spiritually with other like-minded ladies. Along the way, she began participating in distributions, and sometime later, she began serving in Auxiliary leadership. Her friendships with ladies in the camp started to deepen, and her investment in the ministry of this Association began to grow. Mom’s involvement alongside Dad was invaluable to him. She was his most trusted advisor and coach. She would listen to his thoughts about messages and encourage him. In so many ways, it was very evident two were better than one. She never wanted to be in front of people; she was delighted with her quiet life, and now she was traveling the country, speaking to large crowds of people she had never seen before and thriving in the opportunities. As her son, it was powerful to watch.   

 

Second, I have been blessed beyond measure to live within the sphere of influence of my wife as an Auxiliary. After joining The Gideons as a single man, at almost every Gideon meeting I attended, I was reminded that most Gideons find great joy and blessing to have their wife serving alongside them. I had relocated to a new city on my job and had begun visiting a singles class at a new church. In that Sunday School class, there was a young lady named Emily. I knew her name was Emily, she was a believer, and she sang in the choir. That is about all I knew, except that I knew I was very interested.

 

Soon after, it so happened we were planning a large city-wide Gideon event at Christmastime, and I began to think about how nice it would be for Emily and me to attend this event together. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I called Emily and asked if she would like to go with me. She was not sure what the event was, but with some additional explanations, she agreed to go. My Gideon and Auxiliary friends’ godly influence and friendship made a good impression that evening and in the months that followed. Emily and I were married, and not long after that, she joined the Auxiliary. Thus, I began to experience the great blessing of pursuing the mission of this ministry together with my wife as an Auxiliary.   

It has been a great joy for these last 34 years to have grown together with my wife. Living within the spiritual influence of her as an Auxiliary has resulted in extraordinary blessings in our lives. Looking back, it is evident to me that two are better than one. My life and our children’s lives have been richly blessed by living within the sphere of influence of my wife and their mother as an Auxiliary.

David W. Martin and his wife, Emily

The Blessings of Shared Ministry

You see, the Auxiliary plays an invaluable role for the Kingdom. From the very beginning, The Gideons was built on the idea of strengthening the traveling businessman’s testimony. No earthly person knows their husband like his wife, and a wife’s love accomplishes more in a man’s heart than can be easily explained. As Auxiliary, we direct people towards Christ through living out our faith, praying, and encouraging others. What an Auxiliary does for and with her husband strengthens him and his ministry efforts. I take great pride in joining my husband in ministry, supporting and encouraging him—that is the unique benefit of being a part of The Gideons International. Together, we seek to win the lost to Jesus Christ.

An Auxiliary taking part in a hospital distribution

I take great pride in joining my husband in ministry, supporting and encouraging him—that is the unique benefit of being a part of The Gideons International.

Why I’m a Gideon: Dan Scott

Like many attorneys, Dan Scott works an average of 55-65 hours a week. Yet, with all the demands of being the founding attorney of a law firm, Dan still makes time in his schedule to serve as a Gideon and devote time to making an impact for the Kingdom. His experience as a Gideon has impacted not only him and his family but also those in his community and beyond.

The Night That Changed Everything

Driving home from a concert one night back in 1977, Dan and his wife, Faith, were struck head-on by a drunk driver. Dan’s injuries were minor. Faith’s injuries were much more severe, and she was rushed by ambulance to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. Sitting anxiously in the waiting room of the intensive care unit, Dan was struggling to keep it together. One of the medical team members approached him with sobering news. “Mr. Scott, we don’t know if your wife will survive. If she makes it through the next two hours, we’ll let you see her.”

It hadn’t even been three years since he and Faith exchanged wedding vows. And now, it looked as if the young couple’s lives together might be over. Friends and family raced to the hospital in the middle of the night to be by Dan’s side, as together they cried and prayed.

One of them picked up a Bible placed in the hospital by The Gideons and began reading aloud from the first chapter of James. The words of the passage struck a chord in Dan’s weary heart. He walked into the stairwell to return to the intensive care unit. Upon reaching the landing at the top of that lonely flight of stairs, Dan broke down crying out in desperation to the Lord.

In times of crisis, it is common to make bold pledges to the Lord only to fall back into living life on our own terms once the Lord delivers us through the storm. Dan was different. He was making a commitment to his Creator as binding as any legal contract. For the first time in his life, Dan truly surrendered his life to the Lord. Immediately, he felt the peaceful presence of God upon him.

For the first time in his life, Dan truly surrendered his life to the Lord. Immediately, he felt the peaceful presence of God upon him.

Dan approached the patient bed where Faith was still lying unconscious. “Baby, you’re going to be okay,” he whispered. In the weeks to follow, the Lord continued to work a mighty healing in both Faith and Dan. It was a healing that restored them physically and spiritually.

When Iron Sharpens Iron

Years later, in 1987, Dan and Faith were busy raising a young family. Dan was also working hard to establish himself as an attorney. One day, a letter arrived inviting him to a new member dinner hosted by members of a Gideon camp. The letter said his pastor recommended him for membership in The Gideons International. Dan was speechless.

Instantly, scenes of that life-changing night when he encountered a Gideon-placed Bible in the hospital flashed through his mind. Another scene that raced through his memories was that of a Gideon presentation at his own church. The speaker was a Gideon and a fellow church member named Joe. Dan had tremendous respect for Joe. The testimonies Joe presented of people coming to know Jesus through the ministry of The Gideons made a strong impression on Dan.

These inspiring flashbacks made Dan think this invitation had to be a mistake. Sure, he was active in his church and was indeed in love with the Lord, but he wondered how he could be qualified to join a group of men who were so well-respected throughout the community? Dan called his pastor to make sure he hadn’t meant to recommend another church member. His pastor assured him; he believed Dan would be an excellent fit for The Gideons.

Dan attended the new member event. Toward the close of the evening, the speaker asked if any guests felt called to join The Gideons. It would have been easy for Dan to simply leave the event without committing to join. He and Faith were raising their young children, and Dan was putting in long hours at the office. “I was committing everything I had to be the best lawyer I could. I was successful,” Dan says. “But you know, nobody was coming to Christ by what I was doing for a living. I really do believe that there’s a place called ‘hell.’ And real people are dying and going there for eternity.” He responded to the call to join that evening. “They didn’t have to ask me twice if I wanted to be a member. I was just absolutely blown away that I would be able to serve with those guys.”

Dan began attending meetings with other Gideons. He immediately got a glimpse of what being Men of God looked like in The Gideons. “At the first prayer meeting I attended, they said, ‘Well, we’re ready to pray,’ and they started pulling out their chairs. I didn’t know exactly what to do. I just did what they did.” What those Gideons were doing is what Gideons around the world do every week. They were kneeling in submission to the majestic power of the Lord and lifting up their prayers. “It absolutely blew me away,” says Dan. “These guys were getting on their knees where the only thing that mattered at that moment was the conversation they were having with the living God.”

“These guys were getting on their knees where the only thing that mattered at that moment was the conversation they were having with the living God.”

Right Across the Table

Those prayer times have been life-changing for Dan. They changed how he viewed his opportunity to be a godly influence on others when he returns to the office on Mondays. Rather than viewing his professional status as one of earthly prominence, Dan sees himself as a child of the King who has been given a chance to impact the lives of those around him. As an attorney, Dan is an expert communicator. However, even with his masterful persuasion skills, Dan was timid when it came to personal witnessing. “I wanted to tell people about Jesus, but I worried: What if I mess this up? What if they don’t come to Christ?”

Spending time with other Gideons and seeing their commitment to sharing the Gospel greatly impacted Dan. These were men whose priorities and conversations were focused on things of eternal consequence rather than the upcoming football game or home improvement projects. “When you’re around these guys, they’re not spending all their time talking about NASCAR. They’re talking about how they shared Christ with the lady at the checkout stand and how she just took that Testament and held it so firmly like it was worth a million bucks,” says Dan.

Dan prayed to the Lord about his fears in sharing Jesus with others. “Please, Lord, will You give me some way to get past this because I don’t think this fear is from You.” It was then that Dan felt the Holy Spirit impressing a fundamental truth. The message to him was, “Dan, you can’t lose any of them because you can’t save any of them.”

“When I had that experience,” says Dan, “I came to realize that I couldn’t save a single person. If I couldn’t save them, I couldn’t lose them. I no longer have that fear of rejection because I know that when they reject the Gospel, they’re not rejecting me; they’re rejecting Jesus.” That insight has led Dan to routinely seize opportunities to share Jesus with others. The last thing Dan says to his clients as they leave his office is, “God bless you.” That simple statement has opened the door for Dan to share his testimony and the power of the Gospel with many clients. “I’ve led many people to Christ sitting at my desk, looking right across the table where they are sitting and weeping because they’re in a place of hurt. I’m able to tell them that Jesus is their answer, not me. I’ll help them with their legal problem, but I can’t help them get into Heaven. I can just tell them about the One who can save their soul.”

“I believe the command Christ gave to ‘go and make disciples’ is a command to me. And so, if I’ve got a schedule that’s so full that I can’t do what Christ tells me to do, then my schedule is too busy. You’ve got to decide that telling people about Jesus and how He’s changed your life and how He can change theirs is more important than some other things in life. If you do that, you’ll get a blessing that surpasses anything else.”

“You’ve got to decide that telling people about Jesus and how He’s changed your life and how He can change theirs is more important than some other things in life.”

Striving Side by Side

Dan continues to serve the Lord in many ways. Faith serves alongside Dan in The Gideons. Faith’s godly character and influence over the years have made a huge difference in his life. She knows Dan better than anyone. She not only prays for Dan but also sharpens him in ways no one else can. Dan has been inspired just watching her take on responsibilities in the Association.

As a Sunday school teacher, Dan taught classes for young married couples for over 15 years. “I taught them that my desire for them is they would celebrate 50 years of marriage. If they could just hold on and keep Christ in there for 50 years of marriage, then they’d be good the rest of their lives. Today, Dan runs into couples he taught several years ago. And he gets the blessing of seeing the fruit of his labor. “They’ll come over to me and say, ‘Brother Dan, we’ve been married 23 years now. We’re not at 50 years yet, but we’re going there.’”

Dan has also been influential in other men deciding to join The Gideons. Years ago, a young man named Kevin Keck heard Dan present the ministry of The Gideons at a church in east Tennessee. Kevin was inspired to inquire about membership in the Association and later joined. “Dan would often tell me, ‘I’m so excited to get to pray with you today, brother.’ I could tell he really meant it,” says Kevin. Dan took Kevin under his wing. “He was mentoring me, but I didn’t realize that’s what it was at the time,” says Kevin, who now serves in international leadership with the Association.

Through life’s ups and downs, the very presence of God has kept Dan anchored. Whether he is ministering to a client, teaching a Sunday school class at church, or mentoring other Gideons, he knows it’s all for one purpose—to win others to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Finding Out Why

Getting what we think we want in life can leave us empty. However, surrendering to God’s plan for our lives opens up opportunities we never imagined. For Maikel Dominguez, God used the lowest point in his life to create one of his most fulfilling moments.

And the Winner is…

Maikel was born in Russia in 1980. At age four, his family moved to Cuba, where he spent most of his childhood. His father, mother, and younger brother did not pursue any religious beliefs due to the communism that surrounded them for most of their life. Maikel, however, did develop a zeal for training and competing in Judo, a form of martial arts. In 2009, he moved to Chile to compete for a national championship. “I wanted the fame and the glory,” he remembers. Just three years later, this is precisely what he achieved.

As a national champion, he thought everything was good in his life. Everyone in the country was proud of him, and people knew his name. Yet, deep inside, he wasn’t fulfilled—he just didn’t know why. At the advice of a friend, he decided to become a businessman and start his own company. With his new fame and glory, he now had the opportunity to travel and meet new people. What he thought would bring him happiness was not producing the contentment he desired. “Nothing was working, and I was empty on the inside,” recalls Maikel.

“Nothing was working, and I was empty on the inside.”

New Surroundings

During the same time, his parents moved to the United States. Lost with no direction, Maikel moved to Mississippi to be near his family at their invitation. “There was a church at every corner—I had never seen this before,” recalls Maikel. Still pursuing the pleasures of the world, he got involved in the wrong crowd.

These pursuits landed him in jail in September 2014, where he spent the next 18 months. Over time, Maikel wrestled with the constant question in his mind: What am I doing here? He was one of the only guys who spoke Spanish. A gentleman who knew a little Spanish asked Maikel, “What happened to you?” Maikel replied, “I know why I’m here, but I don’t know the purpose in being here.” The man answered, “Why don’t you ask God that question. Try and see, and you will find God is good.”

Transformed Verse-by-Verse

Maikel cried out to the Lord, “If you are real, God, show me.” The following Sunday, an older man named Homer, who regularly visited the jail, met Maikel. The two formed a life-changing friendship. “Sometimes, he came just for me and would spend an hour with me,” Maikel fondly remembers. Homer shared the Gospel with Maikel and led him to receive Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. Maikel asked if Homer could bring him a Bible in Spanish. Homer, a Gideon, knew exactly where he could find one and brought him a bilingual Testament from The Gideons. Maikel fell in love with the Scriptures. He read a verse in Spanish and then the same verse in English. Before he knew it, he had learned the English language.

Soon after, Maikel was released from prison. When he got out, he couldn’t find Homer as he did not have his contact information. Maikel did connect with two other Gideons—Jhon and Erskine. These two men would serve as a mentor for Maikel in the coming days. Jhon learned of Maikel’s testimony and invited him to a monthly meeting with The Gideons. He encouraged Maikel by asking, “Did you know your testimony can help others come to Christ?”

A New Kind of Winning

This conversation and the moving of the Holy Spirit led Maikel to become a Gideon in 2017. The following year, the chaplain at the jail where Maikel served time called him and said, “Maikel, you need to come back to the jail and share your testimony.” The prison was the last place Maikel desired to go. He thought: Anywhere but here, Lord. However, this time the Gospel accompanied Maikel instead of shackles and chains. “I shared the Gospel with the inmates and explained how they could be spiritually free. ‘Read this book (the Bible)’ I told them ‘and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.’” One evening, after sharing his testimony, 18 inmates surrendered their life to Jesus and were baptized. Maikel now knew why he had gone to prison years prior; He met Jesus there.

“I shared with the inmates the Gospel and how they could be spiritually free. ‘Read this book (the Bible)’ I told them ‘and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.’”

Homer had faithfully stewarded his time and energy ministering to Maikel. This forever changed the course of Maikel’s life, and he still had a strong desire to see Homer again. In God’s providence, Maikel located Homer at a nursing home, where he was still telling people about the hope of Jesus. Maikel shared all that God was doing in his life and about the 18 inmates coming to know Christ. Homer was thrilled to learn how God was using him.

Homer passed away in 2018, but his faithfulness still inspires Maikel’s journey with Christ today. When asked why Maikel is a Gideon, he replies, “To see the faces of people when they get a Testament and receive Jesus. I was once that face.” He loves participating in Scripture distributions in places like New York City, where he also gets opportunities to share how the Lord changed his life.

Life is much different now than when he became a national champion. He pursues the things of Christ and lives for His glory. The apostle Paul’s words from Philippines 3:12-13 (ESV) ring ever true in his life: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

It’s only natural for us to desire purpose and meaning in our lives. When we find out the why, that makes all the difference.

But The Lord Is Faithful

How do believers remain faithful to God’s calling in a world full of selfish ambition? Pastor Paul Richardson of Licking Assembly of God (Licking, Missouri) recently reminded his congregation of the importance of faithfulness using 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (ESV) as a framework. The passage reads, “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” This verse has greatly impacted his life and ministry.

Formative Experiences

Life for Paul began in Koshkonong, Missouri, close to the Arkansas state line. Local church ministry shaped him from an early age as both his parents are committed believers, and his father pastored rural churches. As a result, he and his two sisters were active in the church. Paul came to faith in Christ at an early age and would often play the piano during church services.

God also used other experiences from Paul’s childhood to shape a special calling on his life. His dad had excellent relationships with local Christian business and professional men called Gideons. He and his family attended events put on by these men for pastors and their families. Paul would also see men he recognized as visitors to his school. These local Gideons would come and gift Scriptures to him and his classmates. Paul remembers, “I received a Scripture from a Gideon in the fifth grade, and some of my friends got their first copy of God’s Word from a Gideon. I would see the men at school and think to myself: I saw you at that pastor’s event with my dad.”

“I received a Scripture from a Gideon in the fifth grade, and some of my friends got their first copy of God’s Word from a Gideon.”

Paul remembers a specific time during high school when a Gideon-placed Bible was there at just the right time. He was staying in a hotel on an overnight school trip. One of his classmates, who was Catholic, started asking him about his faith. Paul reached over to the nightstand to grab a Bible, knowing a Gideon had placed one. He began reading Scriptures and ministering to his friend. “Because a Gideon was faithful to place a Bible,” says Paul, “I, as a teenager, was able to share the Truth with my friend.”

FAITHFULNESS ON DISPLAY


Paul and Julie Richardson

Paul married the love of his life, Julie, at age 19, and they began serving as bi-vocational youth pastors the next year. When Paul turned 24, God called him and Julie to move to Licking, Missouri, to pastor Licking Assembly of God. At the time, the congregation had 20 members. After almost a decade of ministry with this congregation, the Lord has blessed their faithfulness. Today, the church has 150 members and places a significant emphasis on community outreach. This past Christmas, the congregation had a goal to buy a Christmas present for every foster child in their community. Paul knows God is blessing this church, and the impact they are making is something bigger than he could have ever imagined. “I’m just a local, simple guy with a call on his life—people recognized this call and invested in me. I’m eternally grateful,” he fondly recalls.

Paul’s core desire has always been to authentically follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in his life, and he encourages those in his congregation to do the same. He has dedicated church members who are Gideons, and he sees them faithfully following God’s call to win others to Him. Every year, a Gideon comes to the church and shares how God is expanding His Kingdom through Gideons and Auxiliary. The congregation also partners with The Gideons at Christmastime through Birthday for Jesus—with many congregants giving to spread God’s Word across the globe.

“I’m just a local, simple guy with a call on his life—people recognized this called and invested in my life. I’m eternally grateful.”

Five years ago, he was leading a mission trip to Hungary. There in his hotel was a Gideon-placed bilingual Bible. Again, this served as a ministry tool for him at just the right time. “When pastors need access to Scripture in hotels and hospitals, faithful Gideons have placed these Bibles. It’s an invisible calling at times, yet so incredibly needed for fruitful ministry.”

Fruitful ministry is something all believers can strive to accomplish through faithfully sharing the Gospel and equipping Kingdom-minded people. In whatever capacity you may be serving the Lord, stay faithful to fulfill what He has called you to do. Pastor Paul encourages believers by saying, “Continue to walk in the calling God has placed on your life. Great ministry is around the corner for believers in the days ahead. It may look different, yet stay the course and be faithful.”

How One Church Shares His Story

One of the ways The Gideons International aims to win others to Jesus Christ is through sharing copies of God’s Word. Why? Because Gideons and their wives (called Auxiliary) know that God uses the living words contained in Scripture to bring people to the most significant realization of all time—Jesus Christ is the answer. Since 1908, God has opened doors for this Association to get free copies of His Word into people’s hands.

Honor the Savior By Sharing His Story

Birthday for Jesus, typically embraced at Christmastime, is a ministry opportunity that gives people a simple and fun way to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and provide for the sending of God’s Word across the globe. It’s a joy to come alongside local churches and experience the true gift of Christmas—the hope and eternal glory we have through the birth of Christ. This month, we are celebrating the gifts given through the 2020 Birthday for Jesus season, which will provide more than 73,000 Scriptures.

One church in middle Tennessee—First Baptist Church, Hendersonville—enthusiastically embraces this effort annually. Last year was the congregation’s third time to participate. Forming from an already strong partnership with The Gideons, the church’s senior pastor Dr. Bruce Chesser has long admired the work of The Gideons. He shares:

“I learned to love the Bible as a child. I learned it from Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Royal Ambassadors, church camp, and a myriad of other places. But the number one place where I learned to love the Bible was from my father, who was a Gideon. He believed that if we could get God’s Word into the hands of lost people, they would come to faith in Jesus Christ, and their lives would be better on the earth and for all eternity. From my earliest days as a pastor, I welcomed Gideons sharing in my congregation to keep our people informed and challenged to provide Bibles worldwide. I have led churches to stop purchasing flowers for funerals and, instead, make a contribution that will never fade away with the purchase of a Bible through a GideonCard. When the idea came along to have an emphasis at Christmas around the concept of a “Birthday for Jesus,” I was all for it. I am thankful that our church can focus on getting God’s Word into the hands of men, women, boys, and girls through the work of The Gideons International.”

 

For years, the congregation has hosted various Gideon meetings and functions. Twenty-six church members are Gideons and love the chance to promote Birthday for Jesus. But it is more than that, as this ministry opportunity is personal for many congregants. It’s endorsed in the church bulletin and announced before every worship service in December as a chance to donate a Bible in memory or in honor of someone that has been meaningful in their life. Cary, a local Gideon and the church’s primary contact for the program, says, “When I first heard of Birthday for Jesus as a Gideon, I immediately thought, ‘What a powerful way to honor my wife’s and my parents by sending God’s Word to someone who does not yet know Jesus.’ That was three years ago, and I praise God every day for the chance to help change lives for eternity! This is a ministry I’ll pray for, give to, and support for the rest of my life.’” Another church member named Gordan believes, “There is no better way during the giving season to honor your family or friends by spreading God’s Word around His World.”

“This is a ministry I’ll pray for, give to, and support for the rest of my life.” —Cary

Other church members like David and Judy know it is really about making a global Kingdom impact. They shared, “It was a privilege to be able to gift donations to Birthday for Jesus in honor of the ones we love. That in itself was special to us, but it helped my husband and me in taking the Word of God to many others across the nation and around the world.” Steve, another Gideon in the congregation, knows this special event also reaches across language barriers. “It brings me joy to help send the Word of God to people around the world in honor and memory of my family members. It excites me to know that when Scriptures go to individuals in other countries they will receive God’s Word in their own language.”

Partnering with Other Congregations for More Impact

Gina, an administrative assistant at the church, also loves the vision and purpose behind these efforts. “Offering our church family the opportunity to give the best gift possible, God’s Word, as a way to honor or remember loved ones is simply a no-brainer. The Gideons makes it easy and a blessing for everyone.”

“Offering our church family the opportunity to give the best gift possible, God’s Word, as a way to honor or remember loved ones is simply a no-brainer. The Gideons makes it easy and a blessing for everyone.” —Gina

In their first year of participating in Birthday for Jesus, the church congregation raised $9,000 for Scriptures. The next year, they raised $17,000. In late 2020, First Baptist Hendersonville joined efforts with six other local congregations and collectively raised over $34,000 for Scriptures to be sent worldwide. This total represents 6,976 Bibles or 27,904 Testaments that will go out all over the world.

You can make an eternal impact right now through Birthday for Jesus—simply visit BirthdayForJesus.org. To view a video which includes more success stories from last year’s Birthday for Jesus efforts, click HERE.

In the end, it’s all about the Jesus. As church member Randle puts it, “While churches and missionaries work faithfully to spread the Good News to those around them, God uses The Gideons to touch so many around the world through Birthday for Jesus.”

 

 

Nothing is Impossible: 2020 Cameroon Blitz

When plans change, our response often reveals where we place our hope. As believers, we can run towards God and His sovereign guidance, or we can take off in the opposite direction out of fear. David encourages us in Psalm 37:5, which says, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

In a typical year, Gideons and Auxiliary carry out many Scripture distributions worldwide, which is one of the ways we accomplish our mission of winning people to Jesus Christ. These distributions allow for men, women, boys, and girls to receive a free copy of God’s Word and for the Gospel to be shared at approved locations. For a team of Gideons and Auxiliary in Douala, Cameroon, the effects of COVID-19 caused them to make decisions about a particular distribution that required strong faith and trust in God amid their own impossible.

A PRAYER-FILLED RESPONSE

Several Gideons from other countries had plans to travel to Cameroon and assist local Gideons and Auxiliary with a focused distribution effort called an international Scripture blitz. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they were unable to travel. The team in Cameroon saw two options—cancel the blitz altogether or see how God was at work in other ways. Through the coaching of a Gideon leader named Simon, they felt led to carry on with the original plans, using only Gideons and Auxiliary from Douala and surrounding areas such as Yaounde, Bafang, Nkongsamba, Bafia, Limbe, Buea, and Kribi for an in-country blitz. “Counting on God’s grace, we committed ourselves to His marvelous plans,” recalls Dr. Saleu, a Gideon in Cameroon.

One month before the scheduled blitz began, some of the Auxiliary began what they called “chain-praying.” Knowing that the city of Douala is filled with many false religions, they knew this blitz was a spiritual task. The team also prayed for the physical and spiritual strength of team members, for all teachers and students at the schools they would visit, and for the Lord’s leading and guidance above all.

“Counting on God’s grace, we committed ourselves to His marvelous plans.” —Dr. Saleu

FROM IMPOSSIBLE TO THRIVING

Five days of planned distributions commenced on November 15, 2020, according to the original plans—ten areas of distribution per day with a goal of reaching 50,000 people per day. God moved in incredible ways. As Simon remembers, “We were able to go to every school in Douala and saw the Lord at work.” And that is just what happened…God opened doors in the midst of difficulty.

While Gideons and Auxiliary had access to visit all of the schools, some headmasters would not allow classroom distributions. Another instance involved a Gideon being in an accident with a motorbike. He was severely wounded with fractures, but these hardships did not stop the Lord’s favor or the mission from continuing. For the duration of the blitz, the team began each day with fervent prayer at 8:00 a.m. and completed distributions until 6:00 p.m. When one Gideon or Auxiliary got sick, God provided another member to take their place.

By the end of the week, God used over 80 Gideons and Auxiliary to reach more than 259,000 people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in schools, colleges, universities, and prisons. What started as a seemingly impossible task turned into thriving ministry. Gideons and Auxiliary ended the week together by praying for and encouraging local pastors. These interactions are especially meaningful as The Gideons International has always functioned as an extended arm of the local church. Eighteen pastors welcomed Gideons to share with their congregations how God is at work through The Gideons.

It’s incredible what can happen when believers sense the Holy Spirit’s presence and act in faith. “We give thanks to God for this wonderful work that has been effective because of the prayer support at all levels. Really, with God, nothing is impossible. To Him be the glory,” said Dr. Saleu.

By the end of the week, God used over 80 Gideons and Auxiliary to reach more than 259,000 people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in schools, colleges, universities, and prisons. What started as a seemingly impossible task turned into thriving ministry.

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Why I’m a Gideon: Shane Jett

Why I’m a Member

Family heritage is a valuable part of a person’s life. It tells the story of where they came from and why they prioritize certain values. For Shane Jett, being a Gideon reflects the aspects of family that are most important to him. Shane was born and raised in Tecumseh, Oklahoma. His father was a mechanic, and he has fond childhood memories of helping his dad in the garage. His mother was a homemaker and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

Called to the Great Commission

The Jett family was raised with authentic spiritual beliefs centered on the Bible, faithfully attending church, and serving others. “The Christian faith was intertwined in my earliest memories. Most people thought I would follow some of my family members’ paths and become a preacher or missionary. Yet, I never felt the call to preach,” Shane says. Still, he was increasingly becoming known for something that many preachers are known for—speaking. In fact, a school teacher once told him, “I’m not sure what God has for your life, but I’m sure it involves your mouth.” Shane knew God would use him in some ministry effort; he just wasn’t sure how. “I firmly believe we are all called to the Great Commission,” he says enthusiastically.

With the Gospel message being a staple in his life, Shane made a personal decision to accept Jesus Christ as a teenager. “When I was 15 years old, I stopped resisting the call to follow Christ. When you grow up in the Christian faith, and it’s always there, it can become routine. Yet, after attending church camps, revivals, and many services, I knew I had to make it my faith—it had to become personal,” says Shane.

Can I become a Gideon?

A year later, while attending a chapel service at his Christian school, a Gideon came to share with the students. As a 16-year-old young man, Shane asked the man if he could also become a Gideon. He had heard a Gideon speak at his school a few years back, and even then, he desired to acquire 100 Testaments to pass out to his peers. He also remembered how Gideons came to his church and shared how God used them worldwide to reach people for Jesus. The Gideon acknowledged his enthusiasm and told him he’d need to wait just five more years to join the Association.

Shane continued to grow in his faith and mature as a believer. After graduating from high school, he left for Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to study international business. As a sophomore, Shane’s heart to get the Word of God into the hands of others had not escaped him. He connected with a Gideon on campus one day who was also a businessman that was working while going to school. In 1996, as a 21-year-old, Shane joined The Gideons International and became the youngest Gideon in the United States at the time. During this season of life, his professors had an important influence on him. They ministered to him as he completed his degree. As a part of this degree, Shane was required to complete an internship in an approved country. He chose Brazil and even ended up staying longer to continue his professional career. While in Brazil, he also met a young lady named Ana. Today, they are married with three girls ages 5-15.

Shane Jett with his family

The Same Mission

Professionally, Shane has held various positions. While in Brazil, he was a sales representative and company manager. When he and Ana came back to the United States, he served as president and chief executive officer of a couple of companies, an adjunct professor, and has worked in public service. He has also been the chairman of various community and advisory boards. Shane served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve for 11 years and was honorably discharged in January 2020.

Along the way, he and his family have been faithful members of Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and he remains active as a Gideon. He always looks for opportunities to share the Gospel. When he served as the director of an English program at a university, Shane would give Scriptures to students in their various languages, so they had access to the Gospel. 

Today, his mission is still the same. In whatever capacity the Lord leads him, he desires to exalt the name of Jesus. Shane says, “I love and have a passion for being a Gideon. The testimonies I hear have always captivated my attention. In the darkest moments of someone’s life, the Word of God turns hearts. It’s amazing how God can take smalls acts of obedience and change lives to make a significant Kingdom impact.”

He still remembers what his school teacher told him about his mouth as a little boy. Now, he has connected the dots and knows how to use his words to advance the Kingdom. “I’m honored to get the opportunity to speak in various churches about how God is using The Gideons across the globe.” 

“I love and have a passion for being a Gideon. The testimonies I hear have always captivated my attention. In the darkest moments of someone’s life, the Word of God turns hearts. It’s amazing how God can take smalls acts of obedience and change lives to make a significant Kingdom impact.”

Family, with all its rich heritage, is significant to Shane Jett. He sees fellow Gideons as a family that keeps him accountable to reading the Word and staying the course in God’s calling on his life. He loves his family-centered community of Shawnee, his dedicated church family, and his wife and children. He is grateful for how God uses family, in many ways, to further the spread of the Gospel.

What God Taught us in 2020

As a Christian, I believe God can use difficult times for His good. In my own life, I have seen God work and move in significant ways that can only be a testament to His faithfulness. I have known about Jesus since I was a little boy, but I didn’t truly know him until April 1977. When I arrived at Ohio State University to pursue my doctorate, I had pretty much convinced myself I could do whatever I set my mind to do. But halfway through the four-year study, God began to show me only He was sufficient to meet my needs. Serious personal problems came into my life at that time. I had my eyes set on being an eye doctor, but I was a wreck on the inside. At this critical time in my life, God drew me to a Testament given to me by a Gideon. This precious Testament planted the seeds that brought me to Christ.

Soon after surrendering to Jesus Christ, I met the love of my life at a Bible study. By God’s grace, Lynette and I were married not long after and began our professional careers. Hardship and tough days would follow these exciting times. We lost our first child a day after he was born. We were devastated. We were sad, hurt, and feeling a number of other emotions. I had to go to the Word of God for answers.

Those difficult times taught me truths that still ring true today. I find much of what God showed me in that season of life to be applicable today amid a worldwide pandemic.

God, are you really in control?

First, I had to wrestle with this question: God, are you really in control? Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV) says, “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” One of the age-old questions many people struggle with is: Why does God cause or allow difficult times to come into our lives? One reason God causes or allows things to happen is to bring us to the end of ourselves and to the feet of Jesus. Romans 8:28 (ESV) reminds us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

One reason God causes or allows things to happen is to bring us to the end of ourselves and to the feet of the Jesus.

Therefore, we have a decision to make when we face trials and difficult circumstances—do we run towards God or away from God? Have you grown closer to Jesus this year? Have you experienced His presence in your life? Our actions, and the decisions we make, show what we truly believe about God. I pray you would run directly towards the heart of our Heavenly Father.

Back to our roots

This year’s pandemic has also significantly impacted churches and ministries, including The Gideons International. Ministry activities have looked different for us this year, and I have seen this Association directed back to our roots. From our earliest beginnings, we have been a ministry that holds Christian business and professional men accountable in their walk with Christ and, as a result, strengthens their Christian witness. I have also seen God use these days to increase our efforts in personal witnessing during a time when Scripture distribution looks different. In all this, we thank God that He delights in using ordinary men and women for His glory. We have no other option than to point it all back to Christ and to give Him credit. What a blessing!

Faith is stronger than fear

The question then becomes, what will we do? Fear is our natural response when things go sideways, and we don’t know what the future will hold. Yet, faith is stronger than fear. Paul reminded the believers in 2 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV), “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” However, this does not mean we don’t lean into the advice of people and resources God places in our path, such as skilled medical professionals. As believers, we must carry out the mission but do so with wisdom. We must not be foolish in our actions.

I was recently reminded of Jesus’ words in John 9:4 (KJV). The passage reads, “I [Jesus] must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” As Christ followers, we must work while it is still day. There are people in our sphere of influence who need Jesus, and now is a great time to share our faith. Such people need to hear the most remarkable story ever told that can change their life.

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
—John 9:4 (KJV)

Not too long ago, I was speaking on behalf of The Gideons International. My prayer was for God to use the Testaments purchased from the gifts given so others can experience the real joy available in Christ. I prayed the people encountering the Word of God would understand His immeasurable love for us and that He sent His only Son to die for our sins. This is the true message of Christmas.

What does the future hold? I’m not sure, but what I do know is God is sovereign, there is good work to be done, and faith is stronger than fear. May God’s richest blessings be yours in the days ahead. We pray you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Seeing God‘s Miracles

When a Gideon gifted a red Testament to a young girl at a school in India, the words intrigued her to read more. A subsequent series of events paved the way for her to embrace God’s love and grace. Her story is a powerful witness to how God works miracles in our everyday lives.