Category Archives: Global News

Celebrating 50 Million Life Books!

Over 3.6 million teenagers…let that number settle into your heart and mind. It represents the number of current student missionaries involved with The Life Book. Today, as students all over the nation gather around their flagpole and pray, we celebrate 3.6 million students who have distributed over 50 million Life Books to their peers! While these are incredible numbers, we must remember the numbers represent real teenagers who all have a name and a face heading towards an eternal destination.

The Birth and Mission of The Life Book

For decades, school doors throughout the USA were wide-open for Gideons to distribute Scriptures to students. As culture shifted, those opportunities grew more challenging to find. Yet, Gideons still had a passion to reach students with the Gospel, and students have always been able to reach other students. This reality sparked the question: What if we could help local churches mobilize their student missionaries to put the power of the Gospel in the hands of every student?

“What if we could help local churches mobilize their student missionaries put the power of the Gospel in the hands of every student?“

By the fall of 2009, a small team had been assembled, The Life Book was created, and a unique strategy was in place to help churches mobilize their students to share Christ with their peers. During the first test distribution in late 2009, students from several churches gave 20,000 Life Books to their peers. Lessons were learned, systems were streamlined, and was launched in 2010 for churches across the country to request Life Books. The Lord moved, and over 500,000 Life Books were given out in just two years.

It was clear that God’s hand was at work as the distribution numbers increased significantly year over year. God moved in the hearts of many pastors and youth leaders who were excited for their students to be involved in this simple approach to evangelism.

Pastor Mike from Arkansas finds The Life Book is an excellent tool for reaching out to those all around who need to know about the love of Christ. He says, “The simplicity of the Gospel is written so that young people can receive the knowledge of salvation in a simple way, yet at the same time, acknowledging the seriousness of finding a hope that is much needed in today’s time.”

Still Growing Strong


Today, with over 3.6 million students having been involved in distributing over 50 million Life Books, God is still changing hearts and lives. In this same amount of time (since 2010), 35.5 million Youth Testaments have been distributed by Gideons in the United States. Praise God for the growth of the Life Book and the impact it is having on students nationwide! Ralph, a youth pastor from California, is excited about how God will use The Life Book in the days ahead. He says, “Our teens intentionally handed out 2,500 Life Books…I’m grateful for additional copies we will give them to hand out during this next school year.”

Each time Life Books hit the hands of a student, God accomplishes His purpose through it as Isaiah 55:11 (ESV) guarantees, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” One student named Jacqueline from Georgia says, “It has helped me know Jesus better and go out and be a disciple for Him!

“It has helped me know Jesus better and go out and be a disciple for Him!“ –Jacqueline

“What If the Book He Gives Me Changes My Life?”

Rina is a student from Maryland who was impacted significantly by The Life Book. She shares: 

On the first day of my new school, I felt like an outcast and was desperate for hope. I just wanted to kill myself.

The next day, a classmate asked me who I was cheering for in the World Series. I never noticed how glad I was to be asked a normal question instead of hearing rumors or things that hurt me. He gave me hope, and my entire life centered around figuring out why he was so nice.

I finally got the courage to tell him about feeling like an outcast and just a waste of oxygen. He said he wanted to give me a book. I decided not to end my life because I had this thought: What if the book he gives me changes my life?

He was talking about The Life Book. At first, I scoffed at it because I was an atheist. I thought to myself, “God can’t help me, even if He is real.” But I decided to read The Life Book anyway because he gave it to me, and I wanted to know why he was so nice. While reading it, I learned about Jesus—God’s Son who lived a perfect life to die on the cross for my sins. For the first time in my life, I felt hope, not from an ordinary person, but in a God that loves me. My classmate invited me to his youth group, and I learned more about Jesus and how He had a purpose and plan for me. That day, I decided to become a follower of Jesus.

I carried The Life Book around in my pocket—there is still a hole in that jacket where I kept the book. While it was hard to let go of my suicidal and depressed lifestyle from before, I came to know more about the Lord over time. I started regularly attending church, serving at church, and expressing more of my faith. I started praying and spending time in the Word. I still keep my Life Book to this day—knowing it helped me learn God’s Word while I was a broken and hopeless person.

May we faithfully reach more people like Rina before it’s everlasting too late.

Servants of the Lord

The Gospel of Matthew captures an incredible moment between Jesus and men who would later become His disciples. Jesus saw two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, doing what they knew well as fishermen—casting a net into the sea. Jesus then said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) The Savior took what was familiar and translated it into Kingdom influence. For Todd Lowe, he would have his own “fishing for men” moment, bringing about experiences he never saw coming.

Early Years at Home and Church

Todd grew up on a farm in Anderson County, South Carolina, filled with greenhouses and apple orchards. He says, “It was a busy life, but a good life—everyone knew their neighbors, and you were busy with your neighbors.” He was blessed to be raised in a home with parents who loved the Lord and ensured the family was active in the local church. When the doors of Shady Grove Baptist Church were open, you would find the Lowe family present. Todd recalls, “It was the only church I remember growing up, and many Gideons were a part of it. I was always impressed with the Gideons who were passionate about going out sharing God’s Word, no matter the circumstances.”

After several years of church services, Bible studies, vacation Bible schools, and many other church-related activities, Todd realized he needed Jesus to be his personal Lord and Savior. At 12 years old, the Lord continued stirring his heart at a youth retreat. The Lowe’s pastor came to their house to visit and talk with Todd, and he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ.”

“God doesn’t waste anything in your life.”

Gifts He Couldn’t See

As Todd continued to grow, he developed a love for farm life and agriculture. In 1991, he graduated from college with a degree in Agronomy, later followed by a master’s degree in Agricultural Education. These years would be formative for Todd’s spiritual development and calling.

God gave Todd the opportunity to serve as an agricultural evangelist in Haiti for two years. As a technical advisor, instructor, and resource manager, he helped over 500 farmers maximize their natural resources to improve their farms, homes, and communities. Most importantly, he shared the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ with those farmers and their families. ”

Todd returned to the United States and worked as a temporary college instructor for an Agricultural Education Department. Afterward, he moved to North Carolina to accept a position as an extension agent. He assisted county farmers and homeowners with horticultural/agricultural issues, coordinated volunteer projects, conducted weekly radio spots, and produced weekly newspaper articles.

Towards what would be the end of his tenure in this position, Todd began to really wrestle with a call to full-time ministry. He was attending a Bible study at the time, led by a pastor who made a life-changing statement to him, “Todd, everyone can see these gifts in you…why can’t you see them?” Todd struggled to see how all his agricultural experiences had led him to this pivotal moment. The pastor encouraged him with, “God doesn’t waste anything in your life.”

Todd met and married his wife, Donna, in North Carolina in May 1997. He committed to full-time ministry and began seminary in August 1998. Soon after, God opened doors for Todd to serve first as an interim pastor in North Carolina, then as an associate pastor in South Carolina. The Lord then moved the Lowe’s to Georgia for his first full-time senior pastorate. In September 2008, God called Todd to serve as the senior pastor of Cedar Springs Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he currently serves.”

Servants Together

 Cedar Spring Baptist

Pastor Todd was never far removed from the influence of The Gideons International. His college roommate’s dad was a Gideon, and his congregations have had several active Gideons. At Cedar Springs Baptist, they welcome Gideons to share about how God is using the Association. Each Christmas, the congregation takes an active role in Birthday for Jesus, and Pastor Todd encourages his congregants to send GideonCards when loved ones pass away because it is “a gift that always gives.

One of God’s greatest gifts is His Word—and it shows the ultimate gift—salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ. Pastor Todd cheers on members and their influence when he says, “Be encouraged, Gideons and Auxiliary, you are presenting the Word of the Lord. There will be people in Heaven because of you. You may never see your efforts on this side of things, but we know people are spending eternity with their Heavenly Father because of you and your faithfulness.

The idea of agriculture is growing crops to provide needed substance such as food to survive. God never wastes our experiences and the things we learn in different seasons of life. From developing crops to developing people, Pastor Todd’s calling from what he knew in the agricultural sciences taught him the necessary lessons he still uses in ministry today. Alongside his wife of 25 years and their two children, Chapman and Isabella, they are excited to continue in this calling in the days ahead.

“When I see the Gideon emblem, I think of servants of the Lord. I know they are men with a calling from God to share His Word across the globe and will be an incredible asset to me as a pastor.“ – Todd Lowe

An Accident That Changed Everything

An Accident That Changed Everything

Our lives can change in a single moment. Daniel and Gaby Blanco were on their way to sign paperwork for their new home when they ended up in an unexpected circumstance. What happened next can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit’s moving.

Open Doors to Go

Gloria and her husband, John

What breaks our hearts often leads us to act. John, and his wife Gloria, have been members of The Gideons for over 50 years. Their passion for helping people find Jesus Christ through the truth of Scripture has fueled some of their greatest moments in life and ministry.

A Pardon for Their Sin

In 1976, after hearing the testimony of Mary Kay Beard, God began leading Gloria toward jail ministry. She listened to some training from other Auxiliary and started preparing to go. “What pricked my heart about jail ministry was when I read verses about God cleansing us from all iniquity. I knew God could give these women a pardon for their sin. Even though they may have to remain behind prison bars, I wanted to tell them they could be forgiven,” says Gloria.

She started training other Auxiliary in her camp and encouraging them to join her in jail ministry. Around that time, John came home from a Gideon prayer meeting and said, “Gloria, the Gideons have obtained permission for y’all to go to the parish jail.” The door was open. Gloria was reminded of Isaiah 65:24, “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” And so, they started to go once a month to the parish jail in Shreveport, Louisiana, and God gave them excellent opportunities to share about Him.

“I knew God could give these women a pardon for their sin. Even though they may have to remain behind prison bars, I wanted to tell them they could be forgiven.”

When John and Gloria moved to Texas in 1991, the Auxiliary told Gloria, “We’re going to continue the jail ministry.” They knew that was a concern of Gloria’s—she didn’t want to leave those women without having someone coming, sharing the Good News with them.

A Call to Faithfulness

Jail ministry hasn’t always been easy or fruitful for Gloria. “At times, I tell God, ‘I quit…I’m not doing this anymore.’ Then He reminds me He didn’t call me to be successful but to be faithful and leave the results to Him.”

She will never forget meeting Ginger in a county jail. “As I talked with her, she told me she was a prostitute,” says Gloria. “She didn’t accept the Lord during that first visit. But as I would see her from time to time, she finally accepted Him as her Savior.” She would get out of jail, and then she would get drawn back into the old lifestyle. “I can remember when she saw me pass by, she wanted to hide from me. And I said, ‘Ginger, is that you?’ She finally came to the bars to talk because she was so ashamed that she had fallen back into the old pattern of life.”

Ginger was finally able to go to a Christian women’s job corps where she was trained and doing well, she was giving her testimony at churches, and Gloria connected with her again. “She was living for the Lord! We brought her home, and she lived with us for a year. She was like a daughter to us but was drawn back into her old ways.”

Throughout her years of ministering to women like Ginger, Gloria has seen many accept the Lord. “Some of them do well, and then sometimes they do well for a time, but that’s not my responsibility. Jesus commands us to go and tell. And that’s what we must do.”

I Know You!

In 2015, Gloria and some fellow Auxiliary were on a distribution at a rehabilitation facility. “When I walked in, I saw the name Vera printed on a lady’s name tag. I recognized her because she had made a great impression on me when she was in the county jail.” Gloria recalls her story:

I remember going up to the cell, and I asked the women, ‘Do you know if you died tonight that you would go to Heaven?’ Vera knew that she wouldn’t but told me she would sure like to. The other women in the cell said the same thing and accepted the Lord that day. The following week, I was at another cell, and there was Vera. She began to tell the girls what had happened the week before. It seemed like every week that I went, Vera was in a different cell, and she was telling people about Jesus and how He had transformed her life. When she was sent to state jail, she asked me if I would pick up her clothes and belongings. For 14 years, I had a box in my storage room with Vera written on it.

Vera and Gloria had a joyful reunion that day at the rehabilitation facility. The administrator said, “We couldn’t do without Vera around here.” Vera replied, “I couldn’t do without this place—it holds me accountable.” God is effectively using her as she shares her testimony with others going through drug rehabilitation.

They are women who are broken and need to know Jesus. “They need help and love, which I like to give them,” says Gloria. “Being an Auxiliary provides us with tools to use with these broken women. It also provides us with the confidence that we need as we approach them—it opens the door for us.”

Gospel Transformation in Zambia

“Each time a person hears the Gospel, it has the potential for a transformative effect in their life.”

On the heels of a decade-plus rise in Christianity’s popularity throughout Zambia, a former Zambian president declared the country a Christian nation in the early 1990s. Today, Zambians practice many religions, which opens the door for occult practices. According to Operation World, few believers “know the Word of God, or how to live a Christian life.” Knowing this reality, a team of Gideons passionately shared the hope of the Gospel in over 90 institutions in Luanshya during the 2022 Zambia International Scripture Blitz.

Profoundly Interested

Luanshya is an area that was once a thriving industrial center producing copper and other minerals. The mining company in the area has long since changed hands to foreign interests but has not been a sustainable driver for the economy. Spiritually, most residents in the area are either familiar with Christianity or classify themselves as Christians. Most institutions are very receptive to the Gospel, which led to many open doors for the blitz team in hospitals, clinics, schools, and guest houses.

Team members were able to gift Scriptures to five hospitals during the week. One man named Edwin was curious about the team’s presence at the Chaisa Medical Clinic. He watched intently as they met with the clinic administrator. Edwin was profoundly interested in receiving his own copy of God’s Word. One of the Gideons spoke with him for a while about his work at the clinic and then asked him about his Testament. Besides it being a gift, he was unaware of what he had been given. The Helps on the front pages drew his attention to the value of Scripture in guiding his everyday life, while the verses in the back also made an impression. Edwin acknowledged his need for forgiveness from his sins and indicated his trust in Jesus Christ for his salvation.

While the team was visiting a guest house, one of the Gideons met Mutambo and Reagan. They began a conversation about why Gideons were in Luanshya for the week. The discussion led to the Gideon offering each a copy of God’s Word. They listened, with Reagan paying close attention and Mutambo appearing less interested. When asked, both acknowledged being unsaved and uncertain of their eternal destination. As they considered the remaining verses, it was evident from their responses that they were ready to consider following Jesus. After confessing their sins and accepting God’s gift of salvation using the sample prayer on the back pages, they signed their Testaments.

Each Time

Zambia Scripture Blitz team

A local Gideon named Simon served as the chairman for the blitz, and the team did an excellent job organizing the daily work for local members and the five Gideons who traveled from other countries to participate. The primary opportunity to distribute Scriptures during the blitz was in public schools. Team leader David, a Gideon from Pennsylvania, says, “We were well received in each school, with an opportunity to speak to each class and give them a brief presentation of the Testament and the Gospel. Nearly everyone we encountered knew John 3:16. Yet, each time a person hears the Gospel, it has the potential for a transformative effect in their life.” In the team’s interactions, they emphasized trusting Jesus Christ as a personal choice that everyone must make. The team was blessed to see students follow along in the back of the Testament and sign the back page, indicating their decision to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

“We were well received in each school, with an opportunity to speak to each class and give them a brief presentation of the Testament and the Gospel. Nearly everyone we encountered knew John 3:16, yet each time a person hears the Gospel, it has the potential for a transformative effect in their life.” —David

Local members arranged presentations to be given at church services with several team members sharing how God is using the Association worldwide to win the lost for Jesus Christ. Each church they presented in was a home church for a local camp member. In addition, during an event for pastors, the testimony speaker shared how a Testament guided him to Jesus. After losing his mother, he went to live with his aunt and uncle. He stumbled through a pile of books his aunt had for school. In doing so, he found a small white book that ended up being a Testament provided by The Gideons. He remembers, “While reading the back pages, I realized that even though I went to church my whole life, I needed to receive Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I found Scriptures that spoke to me.”

“Would You Like to Now?”

God led Gideons and Auxiliary to place and distribute over 29,000 Scriptures in Luanshya during the week. They stayed in a hotel in Ndola, about 45 minutes from the main blitz area. The hotel afforded excellent space for the team’s daily meeting for devotions and prayer as well as each evening’s wrap-up meeting. A recurring theme of their discussions was Proverbs 16:3, which reads, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

The Holy Spirit gave the blitz team sensitivity to opportunities throughout the week. Friday of the blitz took an unexpected turn when a former Zambian president passed away. Many schools ended up closing for the day. “Most blitzes are so fast-paced you barely have time to slow down. On this day, we were given the opportunity to take time and do a lot more personal witnessing,” says David.

Mark, a Gideon, with Edgar after he received Christ

One Gideon sat down at a table with three men outside a lodge in Luanshya. He asked if they knew Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Two of the three men said they did. The third, Edgar, said he did not. The Gideon offered him a Testament. Edgar accepted it and, when asked, read the verses in the back outlining the plan of salvation. The Gideon then asked Edgar if he had ever called on the name of the Lord for salvation. Edgar indicated he had not. “Would you like to now?” Mark asked. Edgar said he would. After praying to confess his sins and receive Christ, Edgar signed and dated his Testament, acknowledging his decision. A second Gideon, from the Ndola Camp, observed that the man next to Edgar was listening intently as the Gospel was shared. This man was Edgar’s friend Robby. The Gideon took the opportunity to witness to Robby, who also prayed to receive Jesus.

While many Zambians are at least familiar with Christianity, sharing the Gospel with people like Edgar and Robby gives them a chance for God’s Word to change them individually and personally. Gideons and Auxiliary were blessed to see God move during the blitz as His Word went forth. Continue to pray for the people of Luanshya who received a Scripture and are considering a relationship with Jesus. As they turn the pages of God’s Word, pray they would see how much Jesus loves them and move from knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus. After all, each encounter with the Gospel holds the potential to transform lives forever.

Sowing and Serving

If you drive through the scenic rolling hills southeast of Farmville, Virginia, you’ll come to the Sandy River Reservoir, part of the Bush River Watershed Project initiated in 1967. You’ll also see a marker there commemorating the dedication of that dam in 1994 to two men—one of those men is David Farmer Jr., who has been a Gideon for over 50 years.

David grew up on a farm in Vernon Hill, Virginia in Halifax County. Growing up, he attended church and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior at the age of 13.


From an early age, David took a great interest in agriculture. He went to college and received a B.S. in Agricultural Education from VPI (Virginia Tech) in 1948. The next year, he married Katherine. The couple settled in Farmville and are members of Farmville Presbyterian Church. They raised three children—David S. Farmer III, Allen B. Farmer, and Ann F. Richardson. In addition, they now have six grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.


Sowing Seeds for the Kingdom

David spent his career with the USDA Soil Conservation Service, serving as the District Conservationist for Prince Edward, Amelia, and Nottoway Counties. He has also spent a major part of his life sowing seeds for the Lord’s Kingdom with The Gideons.


“The first time I remember hearing of The Gideons was sometime in the 1960s when they came and gave a presentation at the church I was attending.” David was later invited to the Farmville Camp’s new member event. It was at that event in 1972 where he felt God’s call on him to become a part of what The Gideons were doing and joined. Katherine joined the Auxiliary at that same time. 


David says serving in The Gideons strengthened their marriage and their family relationships.

“Since joining The Gideons, Katherine and I have read the entire Bible through each and every year and had our prayer time every night,” says David. “If something kept us from our Bible reading one night, we made it up the next night and tried to not get behind. The couple has been married 72 years. And while they always did things together as a couple, David says that after joining The Gideons, they found themselves doing even more together.

“Since joining The Gideons, Katherine and I have read the entire Bible through each and every year and had our prayer time every night.” —David Farmer, Jr.

Katherine, who spent her career in education, enjoyed many blessings serving in the Auxiliary. “I’ve always supported David in whatever he was doing. The Auxiliary would meet and have prayer times. We prayed for many things for our husbands, including that they would have good relationships with the churches.” She recalls many times when God would deliver on their prayer requests in greater ways than they could have ever asked. She also enjoyed when the Auxiliary would visit local doctor’s offices to place Scriptures. “Over the years, I met so many good Christian ladies in the Auxiliary who made such an impact on me.”

Membership in The Gideons opened the couple’s eyes to the opportunities around them to help people going through problems. They also served as volunteers for 16 years at their local hospital. “That was very rewarding for us, and we hope it helped our community, too.”

David and Katherine next to the marker commemorating the dedication of the dam in honor of David and another Gideon, Hugh Jenkins.

Serving with Like-minded Christian Businessmen

From associating together for service to personal witnessing and placing and distributing Scriptures, David has enjoyed the many activities conducted by Gideons. He has served in camp officer roles, engaged churches as a church speaker, and has seen the Lord could bless those moments in unexpected ways.

“I remember arriving at a church after a long ride to find only six people present for the meeting. I was initially a little discouraged by the small turnout and thought it was going to be a waste of time. However, it turned out to be one of the best meetings.”

David stayed after that meeting and visited with those who had come. It turned out some of the folks who were there had served in World War II. They shared with David that the Service Testaments they received from Gideons during the service had provided them great comfort.

“I feel that, because of this more personal interaction, we were able to make a greater impression on this smaller group than we might have if it had been larger. It was a real blessing.”

 Katherine and David Farmer, Jr.

The community of like-minded Christian business and professional men striving side by side in The Gideons for the faith of the Gospel helped increase David’s commitment to The Gideons. “In my professional life, I worked with many people who were Gideons,” says David. One of the Gideons he served with was the late Hugh Jenkins, who also was a member of the Farmville Camp. Hugh was the other man honored in the dedication of the Farmer-Jenkins Dam back in 1994, as he was chairman of the Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District for much of the project.

David and Katherine are no longer able to get out to attend camp meetings and place Scriptures like they could when they were younger. However, they know the difference they can still make by praying for the ministry and renewing their memberships each year. Much has changed in the world since the Farmers joined The Gideons 50 years ago. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the supreme need of every individual for a Lord and Savior—a need that can only be filled by Jesus Christ. And throughout the world, members like David and Katherine are committed to reaching the lost before it’s everlasting too late.

Bringing Hope to Ukraine

“Today is the 47th day of the war, the day on which we are still together, grateful to God that we are still alive and blessed by Him!” This expression from a Ukrainian Gideon in mid-April echoes the hearts of more than 2,100 Gideons and Auxiliary in Ukraine. Nearly three months have passed since the Russian invasion. An estimated 14 million people have fled their homes seeking stability in Western Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Armed with the Gospel

This isn’t the first time Gideons have experienced war. We presented Testaments to the United States military during the Second World War under the motto: Arm them with the Gospel, too! In 1941, Gideons put Service Testaments into the hands of sailors just five days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Half a century later, Gideons were at the Gulf War distributing over one million Service Testaments by the end of the conflict. Then there were political and social wars in Rwanda, the Congo, and Kosovo. Following the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001, the safety of many Americans was replaced with anxiousness and fear.

However, the spirit of the Association continues moving forward in faith and trusting that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 ESV) For over 120 years, God has faithfully opened doors for His Word to be shared. It’s the heartbeat of The Gideons International—to help people discover lasting hope found only in Jesus Christ.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” —Psalm 46:1 ESV

United by a Common Purpose

Gideons and Auxiliary in Western Ukraine and bordering areas are assisting with the practical needs of refugees. Many members have opened their homes, and God is giving them opportunities to share the hope of the Gospel. One field representative is housing 22 people. Each night, he holds a prayer meeting with fellow Gideons, Auxiliary, and non-believing neighbors.

“On the very first evening, our neighbors and relatives knelt and began to ask God for forgiveness and cry. The daughter of our neighbor wept and regretted she had not come to God for so long. Tears of repentance flowed down her cheeks, the heaviness fell from her heart, and relief came,” he said. “Our guests received Scriptures from The Gideons—the saving Good News of Jesus Christ. The time has come when people have to stop and think about what awaits them in eternity.”

Gideons in Russia and Ukraine are staying in touch and encouraging each other as united family in Christ. The associate national director for The Gideons in Russia expressed the following to Gideons in Ukraine:

It is difficult for us to understand the pain that you are experiencing. But we pray for you all the time. I believe that our Lord has everything under His control and will not allow testing beyond our strength. I believe that under these conditions, your testimony and preaching of the Gospel will grow. We must become a response to the spiritual demand of people who find themselves in these difficult circumstances.

Ukrainian Gideons and Auxiliary have shared 300,000 Testaments with people who have fled to remote parts of the country. An additional 200,000 are being printed amidst a limited supply chain and transportation routes closed due to the vast destruction in many parts of Eastern Ukraine. Such challenges do not stop members from fulfilling their ministry. They know God has uniquely positioned them in these circumstances to point people to Him, to bring the light of His Word into their darkest hours.

“We must become a response to the spiritual demand of people who find themselves in these difficult circumstances.”

Even more Scriptures are needed for refugees seeking comfort and hope. Association leaders in Ukraine and surrounding countries are working diligently to get additional Scriptures ordered, printed, and delivered to members. As B. Don Johnson, former international president of The Gideons, stated in 1950, “Satan knows his time is short. We, as Gideons and Auxiliary, also have the understanding that our time is short on what we can do for the Lord.”

Prepared for Tomorrow

Despite all the horrors of the situation, the people of Ukraine are gratefully accepting any help and are very open to hearing the saving message of the Lord. “People thanked us, cried, and kissed God’s Word, seeing that it is in their native Ukrainian language. Now in Ukraine, more than ever, there is fertile ground for witnessing about God, about His saving love,” said one Ukrainian Gideon. Continue praying for peace and for many to come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Gideons and Auxiliary in Ukraine are grateful for the ongoing support of believers worldwide. Consider the challenge given in 1945 by former Gideon Charles Pietsch, “The question before all of us today is not about what was done in the past, but what will be done in the future. There are still spiritual battles to fight and wars to be won.”

May we remain confident in the hope of eternity and our calling to stay in the trenches.

Partners in THE Truth

The Bible is God’s most complete and reliable revelation. Its pages show us who God is, His excellent plan for salvation, and how we should live in response to Him. Those who read God’s Word and adjust their lives to Its truth are living on a solid rock that will withstand the storms of life—but only if they understand it correctly.

Throughout his early years, Kent Edwards was surrounded by Christian influence. Yet, it wasn’t until he learned the importance of comparing what religious people were teaching with the truth of God’s Word that he discovered God’s purpose for his life.

The Search for Something more

Kent Edwards was born in Toronto, Canada, into a Christian home with three siblings. His parents were thoroughly evangelical and sat under the ministries of A.W. Tozer and Charles Templeton. Kent surrendered his life to Jesus Christ at The People’s Church in Toronto at twelve years old.

Before his high school years began, his mother became dissatisfied with the religious status quo and grew interested in “finding something more.” This led her to an exciting, widely endorsed, supposedly evangelical organization that Kent would later learn was twisting Scripture.

After his junior year of high school, Kent’s parents encouraged him to spend the summer at the organization, during which time their influence grew, and he considered joining the organization. “It was the kind of thing that drew you in, and before long, you felt like there was no way out,” remembers Kent.

However, he returned for his senior year by God’s grace and began leading the InterVarsity chapter in his high school alongside his future wife, Nola. Being godly and wise laypeople, her parents began to ask simple, penetrating questions about the organization his parents were involved in. They were questions he could not answer.

At the end of Kent’s senior year, his future mother-in-law, who had been listening to the devotionals he had been giving at the InterVarsity meetings, said, “Have you ever thought of going to Bible school? I think I hear gift.” Kent was blown away. “Hearing these words completely changed my life,” he says.

Have you ever thought of going to Bible school? I think I hear gift.

Scars Teach Important Lessons

The seventh chapter of Matthew teaches us to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) Kent took this advice, changed direction, and enrolled at a Bible college. He started to understand how to interpret the Bible accurately. What he found stunned him and changed his perspective. Not only did he discover his parent’s group was twisting Scripture for their own purposes, but also the dangerous consequences of doing so.

“Sometimes, God uses scars to teach us important lessons,” he says. His eye-witness experience of the terrible consequences of people misusing God’s Word gave Kent a passion for accurately communicating Scripture. He knows that the only source of truth, the only book we can trust our souls to, is God’s Word—a truth that is near and dear to the heart of Gideons and Auxiliary.

“The only way I can protect God’s people from false prophets is to teach leaders in the Church how to understand and effectively communicate the Bible.” Kent’s love for studying Scripture has led him to over 25 years of serving in pastoral ministry (both pastoring and church planting), gaining three theological degrees and a Ph.D. in intercultural education.

“Sometimes, God uses scars to teach us important lessons.”

It’s also the reason he founded CrossTalk Global—a non-profit ministry that seeks to “equip Biblical communicators, so every culture hears God’s voice.” When talking about CrossTalk Global’s purpose, Kent reminds people that an estimated 95% of Christian workers have no formal training—“This is why we do what we do,” he says.

In 2000, Kent was asked to serve on the faculty of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked with Dr. Haddon Robinson. In 2004, he and his family moved to Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology on the West coast, where Kent currently serves as a tenured professor of preaching and leadership. Alongside him and Nola are their two children, Nathan and Jonathan.

A shared Passion

 Dr. J. Kent Edwards

Kent’s purpose remains consistent—“to change people’s lives with the Word of God and help others do the same.” A similar passion exists with Gideons and Auxiliary worldwide.

When Kent sees the Gideon emblem, the first thing that comes to mind is the word partner. He says, “God calls all believers to minister in different ways. Some people translate the Bible, others place that Bible in someone’s hands, while others are skilled at helping people understand what the Bible teaches. We all play a part in the Kingdom of God.” He continues, “The most significant thing we can do to impact our world today is getting the Word in people’s hands and heads.”

“The most significant thing we can do to impact our world is the getting the Word in people’s hands and heart.”

Pursuing the Good Work

In John 15:5, Jesus taught, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” The truth of this verse of Scripture was powerfully revealed in the life of each team member who participated in the 2021 Côte d’Ivoire International Scripture Blitz.

Through abiding in Christ each day, the hearts of the men assigned to this blitz were woven tightly together by the first day in Bouaké. Located in West Africa, this city of approximately 850,000 people was the focus of the blitz team. Interestingly, forty-two percent of the 27 million people in Côte d’Ivoire are under the age of 15, making it an incredible place to reach young people with the Gospel. The international team partnered with the four camps in Bouaké. As team leader,  David, said, “It was a joy to work with the local Gideons and Auxiliary who love the work of this ministry.”

Just the Beginning

God provided amazing opportunities for Gospel conversations during the week. One blitz participant shared, “These salvations and testimonies are just the tip of the iceberg; some of the ones that we could see. I am confident there are more yet to come that we’ll never see until we arrive in Heaven.”

Two Gideons with students at a high school in Côte d’Ivoire

At one high school, the students came in waves as classes were beginning and ending. Gideons from the United States and Côte d’Ivoire handed them French Testaments quickly as they passed. In between waves, there was downtime. Seeing a group of students gathered in the shade of a tree, one Gideon named Jim urged two others to join him in witnessing to those students. With the help of a local Gideon translating, Jim asked the students to show him their Testaments and to “please read from this book every day.” He knew it would give them wisdom from God. “Follow what you read, and you will become a spiritual champion,” he encouraged them.

“These salvations and testimonies are just the tip of the iceberg; some of the ones that we could see. I am confident there are more yet to come that we’ll never see until we arrive in Heaven.” —Jim

After having them turn to the last two pages in their Testaments, Jim had some of the students read the verses until they came to the point of decision. A student read the prayer on the last page aloud. Pointing to himself, Jim said, “I have sinned.” Pointing to them, he asked if they had sinned. Several nodded yes. “The consequence of sin upon death is an eternity in hell. But there’s good news: Christ died on the cross to assume the punishment for our – your – sins,” he told them. He then asked all the students to consider the prayer carefully and then join in praying in unison. “I wish you could have heard the beautiful sound of their voices.” When he asked who prayed that prayer, 22 hands were raised. Jim had time to answer a couple of the students’ questions before leaving to resume handing out copies of God’s Word to the next wave of students.

Gideon Teddy shares with students using a Testament

Teddy, a Gideon from Kentucky, had the opportunity to share with boys ranging in age from 10-15 years old at a local school in Bouaké. One of the boys came to him speaking French, and Teddy asked him if he spoke English. He smiled and said, “Yes.” Teddy asked him if he was a Christian, and he said, “No.” Teddy then felt led to ask him if he knew what would happen to him if he died. At that time, a younger boy walked up very interested in their conversation, followed by another young man. Teddy started going through the plan of salvation, and all three boys accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and indicated their decision by signing their names in the back of their Testaments.

David, a Gideon from North Carolina, witnessed hundreds of children receiving Testaments as they passed through the school gate. As the crowd thinned, he handed a Testament to a young man who replied, “Thank you.” When David asked him if he spoke English, he said, “A little.” David then asked if he knew Jesus. The young man paused and said he wasn’t sure. David explained the plan of salvation in the back of the Testament, asking the young man to read the verses. When they finished, he asked if he would like to ask Jesus to come into his life and give him eternal life. Praise God, he said yes and prayed to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Why We Do What We Do

This was the first international Scripture blitz for Ron, a Gideon from Oklahoma. “What a blessing it was to be a part of God’s work—several salvations were witnessed by the team. To plant the seed of the Gospel and see students’ faces as they took a Scripture from me and others was humbling. They listened intently as we repeatedly went classroom by classroom telling them about Jesus,” said Ron. “I also enjoyed meeting and working alongside the Gideons and Auxiliary in Côte d’Ivoire, many of whom I will remember for years to come.”

Russell greets students and staff at a secondary school in Côte d’Ivoire

One afternoon, two teams headed out to a large public secondary school. When they arrived, several of the local Gideons had gotten there ahead of them and started distributing Testaments at the main entrance. One of the local Gideons then asked Terry, a Gideon from Missouri and Russell, a Gideon from Indiana, to go across campus to the back gate and help with distributions at that location. As they walked across the campus, Terry saw one of the local Gideons enclosed by many students as he was handing out Testaments. They quickly walked over to the boxes, grabbed a large handful, and started distributing. “Several students quickly surrounded me, and all I could see was a sea of empty hands reaching out for their very own copy of God’s Word. As I stood there, the Holy Spirit impressed on me that this is why we do what we do,” said Terry.

The blitz certainly stretched Russell. Fatigue set in early, but he remembered the words of John 15:5—“for apart from me you can do nothing.” He knows every student represents a person who does not have to spend eternity without God. “Something that will forever stay with me is the beautiful faces of the students who received the Testaments. When I would hold up a copy of God’s Word, several hands would grasp for it. Several students signed their names in the back of the Testaments, indicating they had received Jesus Christ as Savior,” he recalls.

Another impactful memory for Russell was the image of one of the estimated 74 firefighters in formation as they presented each person with a Testament. After receiving them, the firefighters resumed their posture looking straight ahead, but one stood with his head focused downward as he read his Testament for an extended time.

“I also enjoyed meeting and working alongside the Gideons and Auxiliary in Côte d’Ivoire, many of whom I will remember for years to come.” —Ron

I Have Set Before You

Each day, physical strength was needed in the prevailing hot and dry climate. Interpreters made the ministry work possible and enjoyable throughout the week. Pastors and church leaders welcomed the team and encouraged their congregations to give and pray for the work of the Association. By week’s end, Gideons and Auxiliary participating in the blitz had hearts overflowing with gratitude to God for the incredible privilege to see His hand so clearly at work in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire.

Students hold up Scriptures they received during the blitz

A goal of 100,000 Scriptures was established for the blitz. The local Gideons and Auxiliary compiled a survey listing distribution opportunities in advance of the blitz week. This survey included a large university where it was planned for 30,000 Scriptures to be distributed. However, early in the week, they found out the staff at the university had called a strike, which canceled classes. It appeared the distribution goal would be significantly impacted without this large college distribution. However, God opened doors in 124 schools and nine colleges leading to more than 132,000 students accepting a copy of His Word. Several school administrators opened their school doors and, in most schools, the classrooms for a brief presentation of the Gospel. The blitz team leader concluded, “I could not help but think of Revelation 3:8, which reads, ‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.’”

Along with distributions at schools and universities, members had opportunities to share God’s Word at a local hospital, 52 medical facilities and clinics, 17 hotels, two prisons, and seven police and fire stations. Praise God for the open doors He provided for His Word to go forth. Continue praying for the many students and adults who made decisions for Christ, for without Him, they can do nothing.

Why I’m a Gideon: Danny Woolman

The Gideons International is an Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives who seek to win others to Christ through associating together for service, personal work and testimony, and placing and distributing Scriptures.

As Men of God who pursue Christ-centered integrity, Gideons build mentoring relationships with one another. Through membership in The Gideons for over 25 years, Danny Woolman has experienced the blessing of being mentored by leaders in this ministry, and he has extended the blessing by mentoring others while striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel.

Danny and his wife, Shanda, are members of First Baptist Church in Frostproof, Florida. They have three grown children: Amanda, Chase, and their oldest, Heath, who was recently appointed as chief of staff for the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Their seventh grandchild was born in December 2021 to their daughter, Amanda.

Danny joined The Gideons in 1995 after being invited to a new member event. The table host who signed Danny up at that meeting 27 years ago was a Gideon named Guy Sanders. Danny and Guy were actually members at the same church.

Using God-Given Talents to Help Build God’s Kingdom

Guy mentored Danny in the various responsibilities of leading a camp. “The neat thing was, Guy didn’t just tell us what we were supposed to do. He also told us the ‘why’ behind what we were doing.” That kind of relationship helped Danny to grow in his service and impact.

Guy emphasized to Danny that the promise of Isaiah 55:11 is key to keep in mind when doing the work of the ministry. Knowing that God’s Word “will not return void” is an encouraging reminder that the copies of God’s Word shared by Gideons have purpose, which God ultimately honors in His own way.

Today, Danny mentors other Gideons who serve with him in the Lake Wales Camp in Florida. He has recently been mentoring a retired dentist, training him to set up the GideonCard displays in churches and keep them stocked.

Danny has spent his career in sales. Serving in The Gideons, he has leveraged opportunities to further develop his God-given talent of communication to be a church speaker, sharing the story of The Gideons with church congregations who partner with the Association. “While I always communicate the key points, I speak from my heart.” He says sharing testimonies of lives changed as a result of the ministry of The Gideons always brings a tear of joy to his eyes.

Gideons also go into their communities sharing God’s Word and giving witness to Its truths. Danny has helped get God’s Word placed in hotels and jails, as well as distributed Scriptures on school sidewalks.

He recalls one instance when he was a guest at a hotel in Venice, Florida. There wasn’t a Bible in his suite, so he let the hotel manager know he could help them get Scriptures through The Gideons. While the manager was grateful for his offer, she responded, “We don’t have Bibles because people steal them and we have to pay to replace them.”

Danny responded, “No, ma’am. You don’t have to pay to replace them. In fact, hotels don’t pay for them in the first place. Bibles are placed by The Gideons at no charge to the hotel. And if they are stolen by guests, Gideons simply replace them at no charge, as well.” The manager was delighted to hear this news and accepted the offer.

Danny reached out to a local camp to let them know they could place Bibles at the hotel. The camp officer he contacted was astonished. “Praise God. We’ve been praying for that opportunity as that is the only local hotel we’ve not been able to get into with Scriptures.”

The memory stirs Danny’s heart to this day. It showed him how the Lord can move through circumstances to open doors that seem permanently shut. “It truly was a work of the Holy Spirit.”

Danny is both humbled and inspired by the passion he sees other Gideons demonstrate in serving the Lord. Being around other Gideons also helped Danny become bold in personal witnessing. He frequently shares copies of God’s Word along with a personal word of witness as he encounters others in his work and travels.

Being around other Gideons also helped Danny become bold in personal witnessing.

An Invitation to tour the History of The Gideons

Recently, Danny received a call from the International Headquarters of The Gideons. The timing of the call was providential—it turned out Danny was preparing to leave out the next day for Nashville, Tennessee, where the Headquarters is located. “International Headquarters never calls me,” he says. Only the Lord could have arranged this kind of incredible timing. The staff member invited Danny to visit the Headquarters and tour the newly opened Heritage Center while he was in town. Danny accepted the invitation.

Upon arriving at International Headquarters, Danny was greeted and personally guided through the Heritage Center by a staff member. Seeing the collection of artifacts, photographs, and other antiquities exclusive to The Gideons left a very strong impression on him.

“You feel like you’re walking through history. The way it’s laid out, it’s almost like you’re experiencing all the stories.”

In the middle of the tour, Danny came upon a multi-media exhibit that featured an image of a familiar face—it was a picture of his mentor, Guy Sanders. “It was a total joy to see Guy’s image,” says Danny. Guy had presented a Scripture to President Ronald Reagan on December 22, 1983. Seeing the image brought back many cherished memories. “I do remember Guy telling me about getting to give President Reagan a copy of God’s Word.” After Guy passed away, Danny met with his widow. She gave Danny a commemorative edition Scripture from Guy’s office library celebrating the 100th anniversary of The Gideons International.

Guy Sanders and Gideons presenting a Bible to President Ronald Reagan

“That personal tour of the Heritage Center and the rest of the Headquarters will be embedded in my memory as one of my favorite experiences as a Gideon,” says Danny.  He encourages people to schedule a tour of the center and experience what it is like to walk chronologically through the history of The Gideons, and to see actual relics from the ministry.

Danny says seeing the Heritage Center’s displays featuring key milestones of the ministry over the past decades was a reminder to him of the different milestones in his own experience as a Gideon and of the Lord’s faithfulness. “When you see how far this ministry has spread over the years, it makes you realize that God had to totally be involved.”

“As a body of believers working for the same ultimate purpose, we can all do what we can,” says Danny, reflecting on the legacy of so many Gideons. “Even if you can only occasionally attend monthly meetings or prayer breakfasts; or can only occasionally speak in a church or participate in a Scripture distribution­—we all have to do what we can. Together, we make up The Gideons and complete the Association as a whole..”

“When you see how far this ministry has spread over the years, it makes you realize that God had to totally be involved.”
—Danny Woolman