If you have stayed in a hotel before, and happen to find a pocket-sized book or a Holy Bible in the drawer, chances are you have found a Gideon Bible placed by one of its members. So who are the Gideons exactly and why do they do this?
The Gideons International is an Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives known as Auxiliaries are dedicated to sharing Jesus through personal testimony and witnessing, using Personal Workers Testaments which is a pocket-sized New Testaments. While Gideons are often recognized for our placement of bibles in hotels, Gideons also place and distribute scriptures in strategic locations so they are available to those who want them, as well as to those who may not know they need them. As an international body, they can proudly say that they have many camps in Malaysia itself.
This is in accordance with the great commission which is:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19
On 29 Sept – 1 Oct, 2017 at Kings Green Hotel, Malacca, the Gideons had their annual gathering which hosted delegates from many camps of Malaysia, Singapore and a nearby country, with the presence of the Regional Director for Pacific Rim Region, Bro Allen Low and Bro Brent Elliott, Special Assistant to The Executive Director of The Gideons International.
The gathering was a time for Gideon members to get together again, as well as welcome new faces to the Gideons. But the meet was more than that. It was also a time to regroup and do some strategic planning. There was an air of professionalism, as well as corporate efficiency as each meeting discussed financial planning, leadership, new membership recruitment into the Gideon organisation. The Gideons themselves come from different denominations and regard themselves as an extension arm of the Church.
In fact, Gideons operate the ministry through its members’ individual gifts, and offerings received from churches. Pastors’ Appreciation Events which range in the form of breakfasts, lunches and dinners are organized with invited pastors of churches to hear the Gideons’ Ministry Report as to how the offerings from churches are being utilised solely in the purchase and transportation of the much needed scriptures worldwide with unending testimonies of salvation. As an arm of the churches, the pastors’ effort of encouragement is very much appreciated.
On the first night itself, a grand Pastors’ Appreciation Banquet was held whereby pastors and church leaders from Malacca were invited to have fellowship dinner with the Gideons and Auxiliaries to hear the Gideons’ Report with amazing testimonies of how the pocket-sized Gideon Bibles that were handed out to schools, hotels, and hospitals changed lives.
Many may think or even doubt that distributing the Word of God to random strangers may seem of little significance or even ineffective. But, time and time again this is proven wrong.
Among the most amazing testimonies was one from a Gideon camp in Tanzania, Africa. The Gideons had a Blitz team at a secondary school way out in the bush, making a distribution to 600 students when a young boy came back to the Gideons and shared that his Testament was not in Swahili, the national language, like all the others. He shared that while the cover of the Testament was in Swahili, the inside words were written in Portuguese. The Gideons quickly apologized and shared that they would be happy to replace the Testament in his hand with one that had Swahili on both the outside and the inside. But this young boy responded that he would keep the one he had because his father did not speak Swahili but Portuguese only! Upon further investigation the discovery was even more miraculous than initially thought. This was because, the Bibles printed in Swahili were done in Thailand, and the ones in Portuguese were printed in the America. Thus, making the mix up almost impossible as the factories were separated two continents apart.
Another amazing testimony was during a hotel distribution in Indiana, USA years ago. Years ago a local group of Gideons contacted a hotel on Highway 41 just south of Vincennes, IN. This hotel was contacted by the Gideons who offered to place a Bible in each of the rooms. The hotel owner politely refused saying, “No thank you.” The Gideons left and prayed to God that He would soften her heart. Several months later, these same Gideons made another contact with the hotel owner and again offered to place Bibles in her hotel. She refused once again, only saying, “No thank you.” Once again the Gideons prayed as they left that the Lord would allow her heart to be changed.
Sometime later, one of the Gideons was preparing to run some errands and felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to place 30 hotel Bibles in his car. As he finished his errands and headed home, the Spirit prompted him to stop at that same hotel. As he entered the hotel office, the owner recognized this Gideon and commented on his persistency. She told that Gideon that if he had exactly 30 Bibles with him, he could place one in each room. Praise the Lord!!
But the miracle did not just end there. Several months later, this same hotel owner shared a testimony of a lady who checked into that hotel one night obviously upset and distraught. Early the next morning, this lady came back to the hotel office with a revolver in one hand and the Gideon Bible in the other hand. She told the attendant on duty that she had come into that hotel intending to kill herself but instead had come into contact with that Gideon Bible and had changed her plans. She told the attendant that she was taking that Bible and leaving the revolver. The lady turned out to be the very sister of that hotel owner. Isn’t it amazing how the Spirit of God, takes the Word of God, and makes a child of God?
On the second day after a few training lessons and briefings, the Gideons delegates went into the streets, and shopping malls of Malacca to practise personal witnessing with strangers.
There were many who gladly accepted the Bibles and were interested to know more. Although some were reluctant it did not stop the Gideons with their passion on the mission for Christ. But the real value of the activity was that it gave every Gideon member confidence as they encourage one another in the sharing of the Gospel and the Word of God through the handing out of the pocket-sized Bibles.
On the final Sunday, all the Gideons went in different groups for church worship services. Each choosing which church he or she wanted to go to in Malacca and had fellowship with the local believers. One of the main groups happened to go to the iconic Christ Church of Malacca. The well-known red coloured building located in central Malacca square is also a listed UNESCO heritage site.
Other Gideon members headed to other churches. Each was led by a senior Gideon member, who would share the Gideons’ Report at the respective churches. This was also a way to encourage the recruitment of new Gideon members as well as collect scriptural fund as the church congregations felt touched to give.
At the end of the Conference, it was indeed a very rewarding and fruitful time in Malacca. With new ideas and directives, each Gideon could now return to their respective camps to build up and encourage their members back home. Each with the hope and belief that there would be an increase in participation and commitment for the next Gideon meet in 2018.
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