Church Donations are Vital to the Work of The Gideons

The Old Testament book of Judges tells of a time when, because of their evil, the Israelites were subjected, for seven years, to the oppression of the people of Midian. Finally, in response to their pleading, the Lord sent an angel to a farmer’s son named Gideon who, after a lot of convincing and filled with the power of God, became a mighty warrior who led the battle that freed his people from the Midianites. What could possibly have been a more appropriate choice of name for the modern-day army of businessmen and professionals known as The Gideons International?

Armed, not with swords of steel but with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, its members have been waging a campaign to deliver the Bible’s message of hope and salvation to men and women for more than a century, beginning first in America and, in time, spreading to every corner of the globe. Not a church itself, but heavily reliant upon the donations made by congregations of evangelical and protestant ministries with whom its works closely, the formation of the association was inspired by the experiences of two devoted Christians, both travelling salesmen, whose job frequently left them alone and isolated from the company of those who shared their faith.

Their response was to arrange a meeting at the local YMCA in their home town in Wisconsin. Although, sadly, only one other man actually turned up on the appointed day, the determined trio went on to found an organisation which, today, consists of more than 270 000 members. Though their role is an evangelical one, these men don’t actually preach the Word of God. Instead they carry it in its written form, depositing Bibles and new testaments at no charge and in places where those who might otherwise never learn of the new covenant of forgiveness and salvation are given the chance to read of it for themselves. The Gideons don’t make use of courier companies, postal services or even a church to undertake the job of distribution. While they must rely on donations to pay for the Bibles, the association’s members undertake the task of distributing them in person.

The first delivery of free Bibles ever made by the association was in 1909 to a hotel in Superior, Montana and for most of its existence, the bedside tables and drawers in hotel rooms around the world have remained a prime target. In recent years, however, deterred by fears of extremist reactions many leading hotel chains will no longer accept them. This change of heart, however, has done little to deter the determined efforts of The Gideons and their continued placements in educational, medical, and military facilities, as well as in prisons, have seen the number of free Bibles now in circulation soar to a total of more than 2 billion copies and continuing to grow at around a quarter of a million per day.

The testimonies of tens of thousands whose lives have been transformed by a chance encounter with a Gideons Bible are the only justification necessary for the association to continue its crusade. Only, however, with church donations and the unselfish efforts of its members will it be able to do so.