60 years of Bible distribution in Britain
In November 1908, 25 Bibles were placed in the Superior Hotel in Iron Mountain, Montana, USA.
This was the first Scripture placement carried out by the Gideons, the Association having been formed a few years earlier in July 1899. 2008 marked 100 years of worldwide Gideon Scripture distribution, with over 1.3 billion copies of the precious Word of God placed and presented around the world.
The United Kingdom became a ‘Gideon’ country in 1949, and by 1975 was a self-supporting National Association. Only 12 of the 188 ‘Gideon’ countries in the world today are ‘self-supporting’; the remainder rely on financial assistance from other nations to them to purchase the Scriptures they distribute. Each year Gideons in the UK helps in this way, with the generous support of many churches, fellowships, assemblies and Gideon supporters, known as ‘Friends of the Gideons’.
Working in partnership with local churches is vital to the Gideon ministry, both for prayer and practical support. As one supporting church said in its publicity material: ‘We support missionaries in 188 countries!’
37 million Scriptures
This year the Gideons International in the British Isles celebrates its 60th anniversary of Scripture distribution. More than 37 million copies of the Bible have been distributed in this country by Gideons, every copy with the potential to change many lives for all eternity!
The theme of the Gideon National Convention 2009 — held in Birmingham in May — was taken from Nehemiah 8.12: ‘Celebrate with great joy’, the focus of celebration being the Lord’s faithfulness to the Gideons International in the British Isles over the past 60 years. Nothing of what this ministry has achieved is through human ingenuity or organisation. Rather, as the Lord said to Paul, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12.9).
The objective of the Gideons International is to win men, women and young people for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is often evidenced through the many letters, emails, and telephone calls of testimony received in the Gideon National Office, or by individual members and local branches.
During 2008, 554,900 ‘New Testament and Psalms’ were presented to school pupils in the UK.
One school pupil wrote: ‘Without my Bible I wouldn’t be the person I am now. It has helped me through so many difficult situations and once when I thought there was nothing left for me I got my Bible and I remembered there was and always will be something to cling onto. It has silently got me through things that I found really hard to live with. Thank you again, you didn’t just give me a Bible, you gave me life and a way out. It’s the best present I have ever been given’.
In hospitals, many patients and visitors draw great comfort from reading the New Testaments placed in bedside lockers.
‘During my stays in various hospitals I found the “New Testament and Psalms” placed by the Gideons to be of enormous help and comfort. I used this Bible through my operation and my chemo treatment, which is how I got through my most depressing moments’.
In hotels, through reading the Bibles placed, suicides have been prevented, marriages saved, and comfort given in many difficult circumstances. One couple recently testified to the value of a Bible in a hotel bedroom: ‘I can’t thank you enough, for if it had not been for the Gideon Bible I don’t think our marriage would have survived and I know that we would not have come to know the Lord Jesus as we do. God bless you all.’
In prisons, prisoners are helped in many different ways through reading the Bibles placed in prison cells and the New Testaments given to them for their personal use. Pete, a former inmate, explained: ‘I was in and out of prison a lot, on remand, in detention in cells. All the anger at losing relatives and several disastrous relationships — the whole anger and rejection thing — mixed with alcohol, became a very dangerous mixture. There are people in wheelchairs because of me, and people scarred for life because of me, and I really struggled with that. I couldn’t believe God could forgive me. But he did!’
Receiving a Bible from the Gideons in Gloucester Prison was instrumental in Pete coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 20 years later, Pete is a minister, happily married with two children. His criminal, violent past is just that — in the past!
As we ‘celebrate’ we give thanks, honour and glory to the Lord! This ‘celebration’ is not about celebrating what the Gideons have done, but what he, the LORD, has done! These testimonies should humble us in the presence of Almighty God as we bow before him in worship and adoration!
We’ll praise him for all that is past
and trust him for all that’s to come.
For further information, please telephone 01455 554241 or visit http://www.gideons.org.uk