Jan 7, 2009

Gideons International Celebrates A Century Of Ministry

By Chuck Missler

It's a familiar sight that you can depend on. If you are traveling and stop at a hotel or motel, you can find a Gideon's Bible in that drawer next to your bed. For 100 years now, the businessmen of Gideons International have been distributing Bibles in hotels, and through the years have expanded to hospitals, prisons and military bases. One hundred years, and the ministry continues strong to this day.

Gideons International is a group of businessmen from many Protestant and Evangelical denominations who long to reach the world for Jesus Christ. Those who join the Gideons must affirm certain foundational beliefs - that:

"The Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God" and
"The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God."

By making Bibles readily available in major venues like hotels and hospitals, the Gideons offer access to a Bible at least some point in most people's lives.

The Gideons do not make the news very often; its members do not make a big show of their offerings. However, since a few traveling salesmen started leaving Bibles in hotel rooms for the benefit of themselves and others in 1908, the Gideons have distributed almost 1.5 billion scriptures. In 2008, the Gideons handed out nearly 76.9 million scriptures in over 80 languages in 187 countries.

Hotels and hospitals are not the only places people can find a Gideon's Bible. Military bases, prisons, and schools are also major distribution points. The Gideons love to focus on the youth, and colleges account for nearly one-half of all Bibles handed out by the Gideons in the United States. They not only distribute New Testaments at universities and junior colleges, technical colleges and business schools, but also give New Testaments out at grade schools. For the most part, they must stand in public areas outside of school grounds, but they regularly hand out thousands of New Testament books to children 10-years-old and older.

Testimonies come in regularly. According to the Associated Press:

Elliott Osowitt, 59, pastor at Faith Fellowship in Jefferson, N.C., said when he used to work in the tourism industry, the life he led "involved loose living and immorality." His wife eventually kicked him out of the house on Christmas Eve in 1996.

His daughter had also been sent to prison during that time, and Osowitt felt he'd failed as a father and husband. He was going to shoot himself in his motel room that night, but before he did, he saw a Gideon Bible lying on a television, he said…

"It caused me to stop. It caused me to cry. When I read it was Jesus, I had a hard time with it," said Osowitt, who converted from Judaism to Christianity and became a Southern Baptist minister.

"It literally began a process of healing that eventually led to the reconciliation with my entire family. I just thank God for saving me and the Gideons for being so faithful."

Praise God for the 100 years of service from the Gideons and for their hard, silent work that brings the message of salvation to countless millions.

Related Links

Gideons Celebrate 100 Years Of Bible Distribution - AP
Gideons Frequently Asked Questions - Gideons International
Changed Lives Video - Gideons International