Category Archives: Global News

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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Ministry Behind Bars

With the highest population of incarcerated men and women of any country, Gideons and Auxiliary across the United States work to take the Word of God to inmates.

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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.

Live Sent

Jesus calls all believers to be His hands and feet—to live sent. This principle, which echoes Jesus’ words in John 17:18, describes the spiritual urgency that drove a team of Gideons and Auxiliary to serve the people of Hermosillo, Mexico, earlier this year.

Hermosillo is located in the northwestern part of the state of Sonora and is a large metropolitan area with close to one million residents. Most people consider the area to be affluent—mainly due to a large, successful automobile plant. Hermosillo is also one of the hottest cities in the country as it has a desert-like atmosphere. The team found the mornings to be a little chilly and the afternoons to be relatively warm. In the evenings, the city lights filled the night skies.

Spiritual Preparation Leads to Fruit

The team found there were already solid connections formed with local business leaders in schools, hospitals, police stations, and hotels. Michael, a Gideon from Ohio, was in the hotel lobby excited and ready for God to use him to reach people for Jesus. He had no idea what was about to unfold next. As he sat in the lobby waiting for his local team to arrive, he noticed a hotel employee who had just finished cleaning the floor close to the front desk. When he approached her with a Spanish Testament and tried to explain what it was, she could not understand him. Much to his relief, a young Spanish gentleman saw his dilemma and came over to help. He was bilingual and translated for Michael as he shared the Helps section and the Gospel message. They discussed her beliefs. She believed in God but had never surrendered her life to Him. Michael led her in prayer to ask for God’s love, forgiveness, and salvation. After she finished praying and signing the back of her Testament, the young man translating asked if he could sign his because he had prayed the same prayer. God was not done yet. The desk clerk had overheard them talking, and he wanted a Testament as well. He asked Michael to lead him in prayer. Michael was overwhelmed, “In my first 15 minutes, God had provided me with an interpreter and then welcomed three new Christians to His fold.”

Knowing Jesus

The local Gideons in Hermosillo also took advantage of the excellent working relationship with school administrations. In this area, they only have access to Christian schools; the rest of the distributions are done on sidewalks, much like other parts of North America. Chuck, a Gideon from Florida, recalls an experience with a security guard at a school gate. The man was fluent in English and lived in the United States as a young child. “We spoke for about a half-hour, as this young man poured his heart out to me. Christian was struggling to turn from his sinful desires. He knew who Jesus was, but he didn’t ‘know’ Jesus,” remembers Chuck. “He now knows Jesus more intimately and has committed to follow Him.”

“We spoke for about a half-hour, as this young man poured his heart out to me. Christian was struggling to turn from his sinful desires. He knew who Jesus was, but he didn’t ‘know’ Jesus.”

Mitch, a Gideon from Arizona, had the pleasure of being on the sidewalk just outside a school entrance. Local Gideons and Auxiliary joined him. Together, they met a young lady, Alejandra, who looked sad when she was offered a Testament. She began asking questions in Spanish. Mitch knew Erika, one of the Auxiliary close by, was fluent in Spanish. Erika introduced Alejandra to Jesus and explained to her the only way to new life. The next few minutes, as Mitch and the team silently prayed, Alejandra chose to follow Jesus. “All of us were teary-eyed as we watched Alejandra walk off to class,” remembers Mitch.

While Gideons distributed Scriptures at a middle school, three boys joyfully received a Testament as all of them held their new gift to their nose to smell the little blue book. One of the students was a Christian. He said, “It’s new,” with an excited voice. Another one of the young boys explained to his friends, “When you go to church, read the Psalms…” He then explained to them about Jesus. The third boy had never seen a copy of God’s Word. This was the first time that he held a Testament in his hands.

God continued to move at other middle schools. One boy was already inside the school when Gideons began the distribution. When he realized that the Gideons were giving out free Testaments to the other students, he went back outside and called out, “Sir, can you give me a Bible?” The Gideon went to give him a copy of God’s Word, and the boy said, “Please wait, I want to call my friends; they also need one!” Then another six students came to receive a Testament. The Gideons were blessed to see boys and girls so hungry for the Word of God.

Planting, watering, reaping

Gideons also found access and open doors at local universities. Bill, a Gideon from Texas, was used by God to share the plan of salvation with a University of Sonora student, even though he did not speak Spanish. Bill saw the Holy Spirit move through the Word in the form of a Spanish Testament that the student understood. “This is the greatest Scripture distribution experience I’ve had since becoming a Gideon nearly 20 years ago. The Spirit of God moved, and I have never experienced this kind of tremendous desire to share God’s Word as I did this week,” he says.

Dr. Bill Bryant, a Gideon from Kansas, had the opportunity to meet a young university student named David, who approached him and showed him he already had a Testament one of the other Gideons had given to him. He spoke broken English, and Bill was able to discuss the contents of the Testament. Bill learned David went to church on various occasions. “As we walked through the plan of salvation, David appeared to lack confidence in where he would spend eternity. We talked and prayed together, and at the end of our time, David willingly signed and dated his Testament. What another sweet example of one planting the seed, another watering it, and God reaping His harvest,” said Bill.

For His Renown

The Gideons stayed sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading throughout the week—this act of obedience led to more than 94,000 people being reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God continued to move, even as the team traveled home. One of the Gideons encountered Heidi, an airport employee, in the Phoenix airport. After speaking with Heidi, she told him she “thought” she may be going to Heaven but now, through his witness, “knows for certain” she will spend eternity with her Heavenly Father. 

The team visited over 100 schools, more than 25 universities, 30 hotels, and 15 hospitals. Why? Because Jesus calls us to go—to live sent for His name, renown, and glory.

Partners in Ministry—Serving Together with Pastors and Churches

The Gideons International delights in being a missionary arm of the local church. Throughout our history, members of this Association have locked arms with pastors and churches to reach more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter what circumstances may arise across the globe, this mission will never change.

For four pastors from four unique parts of the world, serving alongside local Gideons and Auxiliary has resulted in fruitful ministry. May their experiences inspire other Christ followers to keep sharing the Gospel and encourage pastors to faithfully continue equipping the body of Christ.

Pastor Jose (Colombia)

As Pastor Jose prays and thinks through the ways he and his congregation can best impact families with the Gospel in Bogotá, Colombia, The Gideons International comes to mind. Twenty-six years ago, in the city of Cali, he encountered the Association when a church member invited him to a meeting with The Gideons. “I very much enjoyed the testimonies, and I liked what I heard,” Pastor Jose affectionately recalls. Since becoming a pastor, he has stayed in close contact with The Gideons. In fact, a Gideon frequently comes to his congregation to share how God is using the Association. His congregation also invited local Gideons to train, equip, and help them share their faith. He knows The Gideons provides an opportunity for those in his church to participate in expanding the Kingdom by adding new believers. “When I look at the Gideon emblem, I immediately think of reach and impact. I have had a long admiration for the work God is doing through The Gideons International,” says Pastor Jose.

Pastor Raja (India)

Pastor Raja in India has also been ministered to on a personal level by The Gideons. He first learned about The Gideons while working for Lufthansa. Every hotel he stayed in had a Bible placed by The Gideons. “There were times when I felt low, and I used to open the Bible in the hotel for comfort. I don’t know whether you can comprehend what you have done to save lives. This ministry has been influential in so many people’s lives. It has been in my own life,” says Pastor Raja. Another connection to The Gideons has been through a spiritual figure in his life—a woman he now calls Mom. She has family members who are Gideons and mentioned the Association as a great ministry partner. Through her influence, his church now partners with The Gideons to provide more Scriptures. Raja looks forward to a continued partnership and hearing about the many people changed by the Gospel. He knows with the truth of the Gospel, a significant impact can be made for the Kingdom.

Pastor David (Florida)

Pastor David Delph, who leads First Presbyterian Church in Plant City, Florida, treasures the worldwide impact his congregation and Gideons make together. He has welcomed Gideons to share with his congregants about the work God is doing in and through the Association. “I began to learn more about The Gideons by having lunch with the members who came and shared with us. After the worship service, we would eat, and I heard the stories and passion for getting the Word out. I got a grasp of what God was doing through these interactions.” Pastor David also loves The Gideons’ passion for coming alongside him and his congregation as an arm of the Church. It’s a phrase he has heard many times over the years and has experienced firsthand as a pastor. “One of the desires of Gideons is to be a tool that your church can use to send Scriptures to a place that, perhaps, your church can’t physically get to, but together we can get the Word out.” He loves the healthy relationship he has with Gideons in Plant City. “They come beside us and don’t ask for anything of us. Never once have Gideons put pressure on me to do anything. They simply want to be there as an arm of the Church—to get the Word that changed my life and the lives of many others out into the world.”

Pastor Derek (Colorado)

Pastor Derek Jones serves as the lead pastor at Applewood Baptist Church in Wheat Ridge, Colorado—a 60-year-old congregation known for international missions, intentional discipleship, and reproducing/funding church plants. Within the 750-member congregation, nearly 20 faithful Gideons serve as key leaders in the church. Not growing up in church, Pastor Derek had previously never met a Gideon. Yet, he quickly became a huge supporter of the Association’s vision and ministry reach. “I have gotten to know these godly men in our church as we serve together,” says Pastor Derek. He continues, “I think about Gideons like Bob in my church who always has a Testament with him and is faithfully sharing Jesus with others. That is the type of example I desire to see in all our members—that is what I want to see reproduced.”

“There is no better time to get the Word of God in people’s hands,” he says. “The church grows when it gets persecuted. The passion of Gideons for Jesus Christ needs to continue to change the culture of the local church. I’m excited about what the Lord will do in the days ahead.”

Ministry Continues

In 2 Timothy 4, Paul gives his young protégé timely instruction. He teaches Timothy to “…always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5 ESV) These past several months have been challenging for pastors and churches. However, God is faithful, and The Gideons International is extremely thankful for the countless men and women called of God to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We applaud how God uses you to fulfill your ministry, and we stand beside you as partners to fulfill the Great Commission.

Offering Hope Through Reach Responders

Daily life during 2020 continues to change. What began as fear, panic, and uncertainty for many believers has also produced a renewed sense of peace and thankfulness for every present moment God gives us. It seems this year has been a stark reminder to make the most of the influence we have as Christ-followers…as men and women who understand the lasting hope found only in the Gospel.

In late July, Gideons and Auxiliary began leaning into God’s direction to take action. While many of our normal ministry activities were put on hold, we knew God had a unique assignment for us. Following His leading, we launched an effort called Reach Responders—a simple way to show appreciation to those in our communities and neighborhoods worldwide who are helping others during this time. These men and women often feel empty and drained after pouring into others. Such exhaustion is the perfect place for God’s peace, love, and comfort to intervene. In addition to expressing appreciation, Gideons and Auxiliary are taking this opportunity to pray for these individuals, and offer a Testament, explaining how Scripture gives lasting hope during our toughest times.

So, how is Reach Responders working? We’ve gathered some recent success stories to show how God is at work through this effort.

Rockford, Illinois

Gideons and Auxiliary in Illinois knew it was time to act after one Gideon had an interaction with a frontline worker at a local hospital who was exhausted and discouraged. This opened the door for them to distribute Testaments to over 50 frontline workers. In addition to the free gift of Scripture, they also provided lunch as a way to let the workers know they are appreciated. Members in Illinois continue to look for opportunities to reach others who may be searching for the light of Jesus Christ.

Dominican Republic

Adolfo, a Gideon from the Dominican Republic, shared the following recap from Reach Responders efforts in his region:

Reach Responders is a gift from Heaven. Our members are shoulder to shoulder and face to face with these men and women, working to win the lost for Christ. Seven people came to know Christ in the Dominican Republic in just one Scripture distribution to first responders. Reach Responders is encouraging our camps to work—to fight the good battle of faith. Thanks be to God for what He allows us to do. We are working under all the protective guidelines to take care of our members’ health. We are blessed to know the Lord and declare His great name!

Somerset, Kentucky

Don and his wife, Brenda, from Somerset, Kentucky, recently reconnected with a young man they knew from Sunday School, who is now a police officer in Somerset. Don and Brenda could tell this season has been hard for him and his team. Don wanted to do something, so he went to his fellow Gideons with a plan. Together, they visited the Somerset Police Department for a time of Scripture distribution and prayer.

“Our members are shoulder to shoulder and face to face with these men and women, working to win the lost for Christ.

The local officers were grateful for the Gideons and their ministry efforts. These Gideons hope to reach all local fire departments and emergency medical services over the next few months.

Bradford County, Pennsylvania

Eager to embrace Reach Responders, Dale, a Gideon from Pennsylvania, decided to contact police stations and emergency services personnel in his community. He began by thanking these men and women, then he asked if he and fellow Gideons could come by for a visit. The responses were unanimous: yes! The Gideons spent three days distributing God’s Word and expressing words of appreciation to local responders.

Because He First Loved Us

As Christ followers, we are called to love one another, just as Christ first loved us. John 13:35 (ESV) tells us, By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Scripture distribution and personal witnessing are just two of the tangible ways that Gideons and Auxiliary worldwide love others in their communities.

As Christ followers, we are called to love one another, just as Christ first loved us.

We are thankful for the ways God is allowing us to remain active in ministry and present in local communities by opening doors to share the Gospel with medical personnel and first responders. It has been and continues to be a blessing to put the Word of God into seeking hands. There is no greater gift or answer than the truth of Scripture.

We invite you today, and in the days ahead, to look for the doors God is opening around you. Let us together continue to seek first His Kingdom, His will, and His righteousness to bring hope to the world.

Witness to History–The Story of The Gideons International

The inspiring story of the birth, growth, and impact of The Gideons International.

When you think of The Gideons International, what comes to mind? Bibles in hotel rooms? Small pocket Testaments? Men speaking in churches about what God is doing around the world? These images may be iconic, but they are just a small picture of who Gideons are, our enduring purpose, and how God has used us for more than a century to take His Word to the world. 

Now you can get a more complete picture of what God has been doing through The Gideons in Witness to History—The Story of The Gideons International. This brand new book is now available at WitnessToHistory.org.

For the most part, the work of The Gideons has been accomplished without much publicity or fanfare. However, Witness to History provides a deep dive into the story of an Association that has endured for over 100 years. Witness to History presents a decade-by-decade account of The Gideons utilizing many never-before-shared photos, ministry records, first-hand accounts, and more. Each chapter covers events how members faithfully met the challenges and opportunities of their times.

Witness to History provides a behind-the-scenes look at how Gideons adapted, interceded, labored, and triumphed through the decades as they faithfully and diligently accomplished the work God placed before them. The milestones and personal stories are astounding and inspiring.”

So how did The Gideons International—an Association in which hundreds of thousands of men have served around the world—begin? Small. Like so many lasting endeavors, it started with a strongly felt, tightly focused, determined effort to make a difference.

In the late 1800s, the three founders of The Gideons International sought to meet a need among their peers. They wanted to create an Association for Christian traveling men to identify and support each other when away from home. The effort to place Bibles in hotel rooms started a bit later, in 1908. Those Bibles were a great way to help traveling men avoid sin and temptation while away from their families. (Look for the full story in Witness to History starting on page 35.)

It’s fitting, then, that the iconic image of The Gideons may well be Bibles placed in hotels. These Bibles quickly became, and have remained, a comfort to travelers of all sorts. As Gideons check these Bibles for wear, we often find notes and messages left by those who interacted with them. Praise God for how the presence of His Word in a hotel room leads to an encounter with the Holy Spirit—sometimes just in the nick of time. Here is one of the personal stories from Witness to History (page 44):


A man went into a hotel in San Francisco, secured a room with the intention of committing suicide, and laid a vial of poison on the table while making preparations for the final act. When he stepped to the table, he discovered that accidentally he had put the vial upon a Gideon Bible. As he opened it, his eyes fell upon the reference: “If discouraged or in trouble, read Psalm 126 and John 14.” He read these two selections, threw the bottle of poison out of the window, knelt, and then and there gave his heart to God. He is today an active church member and a good citizen.

What will you discover as you read about the history of The Gideons International?

You will see how faithful men of God can listen, follow, and accomplish huge things by first achieving small things well. (Matthew 25:23) Founders of The Gideons did not initially have a powerful worldwide vision, but they did envision a powerful impact. Their vision quickly caught fire in the hearts of members. Former National President Samuel R. Boggs expressed it well: 

“A world-wide ministry! What a blessed thought. How it should take us to our knees in humiliation of spirit and we pray God that this may be accomplished.” (Full passage in Witness to History, page 67.)

And that’s key. Read Witness to History, and your vision of how diligent faith can be used by God to result in broader impact is sure to grow, as well.

Witness to History provides a behind-the-scenes look at how Gideons adapted, interceded, labored, and triumphed through the decades as they faithfully accomplished the work God placed before them. The milestones and personal stories are astounding and inspiring. For example, you’ll learn the answers to questions like these:

Who first proposed that churches assist in funding The Gideons efforts to provide God’s Word? (You might be surprised!)

When was the Auxiliary introduced, and how are they an integral part of the Association?

What amazing doors did God open to The Gideons just before the United States entered World War II?

 

What is the furthest a Gideon-provided Testament has traveled? (Hint: it happened during the space race.)

How quickly did Gideons respond and provide God’s Word to Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall?

What significant milestone did Gideons celebrate on September 10, 2001? When you learn what this was, we predict you’ll be praising God for the spiritual comfort He ensured was available around the world before that fateful day.

And how are the Gideons of today compared to those who came before?

About that last question . . . reading Witness to History will illustrate that the Gideons of today are not so very different from the Gideons of earlier decades. In fact, on page 82, we find leaders who attended the ministry’s 1934 International Convention claiming:

“. . . the entire party seemed to be more of one mind and one spirit to carry out the purpose of Gideons ‘evangelism.’ It seems to me that this convention deepened the conviction that each of us could do more to place God’s Holy Word than we have formerly done.” —C.T Grizzard, Secretary, Georgia

“. . . all of one mind, one body, one hope, one object, one Lord over all.” —W.M. Amderding, Vice President, St. Louis Camp

Today, Gideons still embrace a vision that says: One Spirit, One Mind, One Vision—Striving Side by Side for the Faith of the Gospel. The Gideons of yesteryear would definitely feel akin to the Gideons of today. 

Steadfastness may be an enduring trait of members of The Gideons International. However, the most crucial truth shared by Witness to History is not the efforts of Gideons, but how the growth of the Association attests to the constancy of God and His marvelous plan to use His Word to share Jesus with the world. He heard the prayers of three men who dreamed of helping their peers, fulfilled that prayer, and then guided them to begin a ministry that would one day span the globe.

. . . the most crucial truth shared by Witness to History is not the efforts of Gideons, but how the growth of the Association attests to the constancy of God and His marvelous plan to use His Word to share Jesus with the world.

A lesser-known truth about The Gideons International is that while some members travel extensively on behalf of the Association, most members live and serve in their own communities. This is actually one of our strengths. Who better to reach a culture than those from that culture?

Dive into Witness to History, and you’ll come away celebrating the fact that Gideons speak in hundreds of accents and languages. Yet, our voices are the same in ways that are most important—they are prayerful, praise-filled, and boldly sharing Jesus with those around us.   

So the next time you’re in a hotel, and you find a Gideon-placed Bible in the drawer, we hope you’ll smile and remember that the prayerful hope of three traveling men more than a century ago put it there to provide comfort and guidance for all those traveling, including you.

Visit WitnessToHistory.org to purchase your copy today.

The Power of the Word

The Power of the Word

“We’re going to worship Satan now. You should leave if you’re not interested in participating.”

Those were the words Roy Pate heard at 3:00 a.m. in a hotel in Saginaw, Michigan. At the time, he was studying to become a professional musician and was invited with a friend to network at a famous band’s after-party. The man who made this statement proceeded to pull out a book called The Book of Satanic Worship. “I didn’t even know such a thing existed,” Roy recalls.

He decided to excuse himself from the room. No one else left, not even his friend.

Unexpected New Friends

 

Roy went downstairs to the hotel lobby, where he found a Gideon-placed Bible. He sat down and looked through the Helps in the front of the Bible, desperate to find something. When nothing on the list spoke to his specific situation, he decided to start reading. To this day, Roy doesn’t know the specific Scriptures he read, but he kept reading until he fell asleep.

“To this day, Roy doesn’t know the specific Scriptures he read, but he kept reading until he fell asleep.”

He woke up the next morning in the middle of the hotel lobby. Roy saw a conference room across from him where eight or ten men all had their heads bowed. He knew they were praying. He didn’t know how they would receive him, but after the night before, he had to talk to someone. He barged into the room with no knock or polite request to enter—he simply walked in.

“What are you guys doing here?” Roy asked. He expected them to call security and have him escorted from the room. Instead, they explained that they were members of The Gideons International and were having their morning prayer meeting.

One man asked if Roy was a believer. “I told him I wasn’t, but I was interested in learning more about Jesus,” remembers Roy. Just like that, the man reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a little book. He handed Roy a Testament and told him to open it to the back page. The Gideon told Roy that God loved him and asked him to read the Scriptures listed under that statement. “He had me read them for myself, rather than simply telling them to me,” Roy recalls. He read Romans 5:8 about God proving His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Jesus freely died for mankind. These words were good news to Roy, especially after the experience he’d had the night before.

Then the Gideon had him read Romans 3:10, which states, “None is righteous, no, not one.” (ESV) That verse struck a chord with Roy. He knew he wasn’t righteous. He knew the kind of person he was and what kind of life he had lived. “Even though I always thought I was a halfway decent person, I certainly wasn’t righteous. Yet, Christ died for me,” Roy admits. This man went on to tell him the remedy for sin was Christ, who died for our sins and was buried and raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). He told Roy he could be saved and accept Christ into his life. He had him read one more verse—Romans 10:13. Roy learned everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 

Roy vividly remembers what happened next. He recalls:


“I ended up on my knees with tears in my eyes beside that Gideon. The others in the room joined us in prayer as I accepted Christ. Jesus came into my life, and I was reborn. We opened to the back of that Testament again, and I signed my name. There’s no way to describe how great God is!”

In Just the Right Place

The road was difficult for Roy in the days ahead. The first thing that happened to Roy after he gave his life to the Lord was him getting arrested. He and his friend had left the hotel only to have his car break down on the way home. Angry and frustrated, Roy got out of the car. He was a new Christian, and he didn’t know how to handle this situation. He started crying out, “God, please help me.” Soon, the police arrived and charged him with disturbing the peace. Since no one could bail him out, he spent three days in jail. However, he found God—again, in a Gideon-placed Bible in the jail. Roy spent three days in jail immersed in God’s Word. 

Over the next few months, he read the entire Bible. He finally understood the Gospel and the need to proclaim it. He began to declare that Christ is Lord, who rose from the grave and conquered death. People around him thought he was mentally disturbed. They called the police and had him institutionalized for psychiatric evaluation. “I would answer every one of the psychiatrist’s questions the same way—I believe in the Lord. That’s what it amounts to,” says Roy.

“However, he found God—again, in a Gideon-placed Bible in the jail. Roy spent three days in jail immersed in God’s Word.”

While he was there, another patient started going into a rage over something. It terrified him and everyone else around them. Luckily, there was a Bible from The Gideons in that facility, too. Roy opened God’s Word and began reading aloud from the Book of Psalms. As he read, the raging man grew calm. Roy learned in that moment how the Word of God makes a difference in people’s lives. 

Today, Roy is a Gideon. He knows the work of fellow members in the Association is significant. How does he know this? Because in some of the toughest moments in his life, God used faithful Gideons to minister to him. “I am passionate about what we do as Gideons. We need to trust and have faith in God and His ability to continue helping us spread His Word.” This work changes lives—Roy Pate is one of them.