Don’t think your ministry can make a difference? Tell that to a couple of businessmen who met in a crowded hotel in 1898 and decided to create an organization dedicated to serving the traveling soul. Now celebrating its 100-year anniversary, the Gideons International, founded by John Nicholson and Sam Hill, has distributed an astounding 1.5 billion Bibles since 1908, when the group began placing Scripture in hotel rooms.
“I think there’s an untold number of people that have had their lives changed as a result of reading the Gideon Bible or New Testament,” said Steve Smith, director of communications and development for the Gideons. “We’ve been blessed to learn the details of many of those and are confident there are still many more we have not yet learned about.” Last year alone the interdenominational ministry gave out nearly 77 million Gideon Scriptures, translated into 85 languages in 187 countries around the world.
“What it’s done is actually changed our culture,” commented Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. “People expect there to be a Bible in a hotel room. There’s hardly anything that’s parallel to it.” [AP, 1/1/09; gideons.org, 1/5/09]