While a child in the primary school, I had a firsthand encounter and experience of whom the Gideons are. Generally speaking, the Gideons are group of people, who spread the gospel of Christ by sharing Bibles and placing them in strategic locations.
While in the primary school in Nigeria, the Gideons team visited my school twice and gave out free copies of the blue color New Testament Bibles. They preached to us and prayed for us before leaving.
We had the privilege of owing copies of the New Testament at a very young age, courtesy of the Gideons. In the same way, almost all the schools in our neighborhood were visited by the same team of the Gideons and giving out free copies of the bibles to them. They place bibles in strategic places like, hotels, motels, hospital, prison and many other places.
The Gideons International is an evangelical Christian association with the vision of sharing free bibles to as many people as they are privileged to. They have their presence in about 200 countries where they share free copies of the New Testament bibles. The New Testament bible they distribute is made up of the 27 books of the New Testament with psalms and proverbs included.
According to Wikipedia, The copies of bibles distributed by Gideons International are printed in over 100 languages. The association is most widely known for its Bibles placed in lodging rooms.
The Gideons also distribute to hospitals and other medical offices, schools and colleges as well as jails and prisons. The association takes its name from the Biblical figure Gideon depicted in Judges 6.
History of the Gideon
From the information provided on their official website, here is a brief history of the Gideons.
In the autumn of 1898, John H. Nicholson of Janesville, Wisconsin, arrived at the Central Hotel at Boscobel, Wisconsin, for the night. The hotel was crowded, but he was offered a bed in a double room with Samuel E. Hill of Beloit, Wisconsin.
The two men soon discovered they shared a common belief in Christ, and they decided to have their evening devotions together. During their prayer time, both felt the call to begin developing an Association.
On May 31, 1899, the two men met again at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, where they decided the purpose of their Association would be to band Christian commercial travelers together for mutual recognition, personal evangelism, and united service for the Lord. They decided to call a meeting in Janesville, Wisconsin, on July 1, 1899, in the Y.M.C.A.
Only three men were present at the meeting in Janesville: John H. Nicholson, Samuel E. Hill, and Will J. Knights. They organized with Hill as president, Knights as vice president, and Nicholson as secretary and treasurer.
When it was time to decide the name of the Association, the men held a special prayer time to ask that God might lead them to select the proper name. After, Mr. Knights arose from his knees and said simply, “We shall be called Gideons.” He then proceeded to read the story of Gideon from the sixth and seventh chapters of Judges.
The Gideons International was established in 1899. The founders realized that Christian men needed to be continually strengthened in their walk with the Lord, and that by standing together in faith, they could accomplish great things for God’s Kingdom. Those formative years focused on who a man was before God and the strength and power of his personal testimony.
Through associating together for service, Gideons challenge each other to strengthen their testimonies for Christ and fulfill their God-given responsibilities as spiritual leaders in their homes and churches.
We believe distributing copies of God’s Word plants powerful seeds God can use according to His own timing (I Corinthians 3:6), allows many to read the truth for themselves (John 8:32), provides a lasting witness (Hebrews 4:12), and makes it easier for those we reach to boldly spread the Good News (II Timothy 2:2).
Members of The Gideons International personally witness and distribute God’s Word to police, fire and medical personnel; prisoners; military personnel; students in the fifth grade and above; and to those with whom they interact on a daily basis.
Scriptures are also placed by Gideons and Auxiliary in key locations, including hotels, motels, hospitals, convalescent homes, medical offices, domestic violence shelters, prisons, and jails.
Impact of the Gideons
The Gideons International began distributing the Word of God in 1908. Today, there are more than 269,500 Gideons and Auxiliary – and an untold number of supporters – in some 200 countries, territories, and possessions across the globe.
These dedicated individuals have given their time and money to make it possible for others to learn about the love of God by giving them access to His Word. They have successfully placed and distributed more than 2 billion Bibles and New Testaments around the world.
According to wikipedia, The Gideons began distributing free Bibles, in 1908, with the first Bibles were placed in the rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana. Members of The Gideons International currently distribute over 80 million Scriptures annually, and the numbers are growing, especially in places like Brazil, India, and Asia.
On average, more than two copies of the Bible are distributed per second through Gideons International. In late April 2015, Gideons distributed their historic two billionth Scripture. The distribution of the first one billion Bibles and New Testaments by Gideon members spanned 93 years (1908 to 2001). The second billion was attained in less than 14 years (2002 to 2015).
As a result, Bibles has been placed in the hands of many who might not think it as important to purchase a copy with their own money. Children too now have the privilege of also having their own personal copy of the New Testament.
Criticisms Against the Gideons
Although, the spread of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be without challenges and oppositions. The Gideons International currently faces great criticisms from the non-Christian sect. An article was published on ThoughtCo with the caption “How to Counter Gideon Bibles in Hotels and Schools”. With this, it is clearly evident that the ministry of the Gideons are strongly unwelcomed in certain places by certain people.
Another article written by Dan Lake and published on Newshub had the title, “Is it time to take Gideons Bible out of hotel room”? Dan Lake stated the following;
1) In hotel rooms around the world, there’s a handful of things your room will have when you check-in – shampoo, soap, a hairdryer and a copy of the Gideons Bible. But there are calls to have them removed.
2) A Pew Research survey in 2006 showed that 95 percent of US hotels had a bible on-hand next to the bed. However, a survey from the same organisation in 2017 said that number had dropped to 79 percent, with “millennial apathy” being blamed for the decrease.
3) The Damson Dene Hotel – also in the UK – replaced its copies of the bible with copies of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Nevertheless, the Gideons do not in any way compromise their mission and vision, provided they work within the legal framework.
Future of the Gideons
The Gideons International may have no option than to move with the tide of technology available. Before now, they are fully involved in the distribution of hard copy bibles across hotels, military zones, hospital, school and various places. Although, the soft copy could be found online. But with the latest technology development, it is perceived that the Gideons may soon be left with no option than to go digitalized. This assumption is as a result of the current era we find ourselves in.
According to a news published on CNN, the InterContinental Hotels Group is modernizing that mission at one of its hotels, replacing the paper tomes with electronic versions of the Bible loaded on Kindle e-readers. Each of the 148 rooms at the chain’s Hotel Indigo in Newcastle, England, will be outfitted with a Kindle with Wi-Fi.
If it’s a success, InterContinental could expand it to other locations, and other hotels might follow its lead.
When asked on the impact and implication of this, a Gideons spokesman Ken Stephens said, “Anything to put the Bible in people’s hands is a good thing. It is a fascinating idea, and I’m sure somehow, some way, its time will come for us. But right now just the paper version is the best for what we do”.
Other information about the Gideons
A typical Bible or New Testament from The Gideons International contains:
1) A short preface
2) A pamphlet suggesting Bible verses that may be of assistance in various sorts of trouble.
3) Translations of John 3:16 into a variety of languages and scripts
4) The Bible text itself, without notes, references, or any other reference matter other than chapter and verse headings; this can either be the full Bible (typical of the copies placed in hotel rooms), or just the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs (typical of the copies handed out as gifts to individuals)
5) A short description of the evangelical understanding of salvation, with biblical quotations, and a place for the reader to sign and date their confession of Jesus as their savior (this is especially common in the shorter editions featuring the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs)
The covers of the New Testaments distributed by Gideons are color-coded based on which groups they are meant for:
I) Orange: Given in sidewalk distribution
II) Green: For college/university students
III) Red: For in-school distribution to Middle/High school students
IV) Digital Camouflage/Desert Camouflage: For the military
V) Dark blue: Printed in a language other than English
VI) White: For medical professionals
VII) Light blue: For distribution by the Auxiliary only
VIII) Brown: For facilities distributions, (for witnessing in prisons and jails by Gideons)
IX) Burgundy: Personal worker’s testaments (for individual witnessing by Gideons)
X) Periwinkle: Personal worker’s testaments (for individual witnessing by the Auxiliary)
The Gideons International has distributed more Bibles than any other group or organization in history. The ministry is funded by supports from churches and ministries and donations from individuals. Members are from the age 21 and above and must be born again. The wives of the Gideons are also allowed to be part of the Gideons.
The gideons has thrived for about 120 years and are still fully committed to the course of their ministry. The Gideons has personally influenced my life to the point that my second most favorite Bible translation after the King James Version is Gideons.
Their impact in my own life is much to the point that I named my first Blog Jecgid. The last three letters were taken from the first three letters of Gideon.