Last year Mary and I joined the Southampton branch of the Gideons. Gideons are probably best known for distributing Scriptures in what the founders called the “The traffic lanes of life” ie. hotels, hospitals, care homes, schools, prisons and the armed forces.
We see ourselves as an extended arm of the church, with our aim to see men and women and children come to faith in Christ.
The work is interdenominational, worldwide and now in 220 countries. In the UK last year ( May 2015 to May 2016) 821,000 Scriptures were distributed by Gideons. Gideon Scriptures were given out worldwide in 102 languages.
Here in Southampton ( 2016) 8,342 Scriptures were given out by the Southampton branch. Of these 3,810 went to school children and a further 2,003 to 2 universities and 6th form colleges. 650 individual personal testaments were given out. Meeting a plumber, a washing machine man, and visitors to our home were opportunities to give testaments!
The school visits, we believe, are very important, take Yasmin’s story for example,
Yasmin is a young lady in her early twenties who lives in Southampton. She had quite a difficult upbringing and during her teens was taken into Care. But when aged 12, at Alderman Quilley school in Eastleigh, she was given a little red New Testament by a Gideon from this branch. In her own words, “I would read a passage every day to keep me hopeful. Thanks to the Gideons it was the only source to God I had for a long time. I have kept my Gideon bibles to this day and have been fortunate to meet and thank the Gideon members for being an important part of my journey.
Some of our Gideon members were able to be present for her baptism and one of our members who attends the same church as Yasmin gave her a full Gideon bible.
The Gideons are involved in serving throughout the world! Here is a story from a town in northeast Brazil. 3 families were killing each other because of a 30 yr feud. The authorities could not stop the continual bloodbath. During a meeting in Recife one Gideon member was led by the Holy spirit to arrange a Scripture distribution in the town, although it was 450 miles away. The members bathed the ditribution in prayer.
On arrival, the police told them that the area was under a kind of martial law because of all the deaths. The Gideons explained who they were and showed them the New Testaments and were allowed to enter the town. That day God’s word was distributed in schools where students were mourning the loss of friends and relatives. Copies were also given to members of the feuding families and to many townspeople.
As a result a church arose where many of the younger generation became christians and stopped killing their neighbours. Three other churches arose from this one and some of the young people have gone to bible college. Today there are 3 pastors, 4 missioniaries and several others are preparing to help the churches in this region. The town that once exported killers now sends out missioniaries and peace reigns in that area because of the power of God’s word.
The Southampton branch would value your support and prayer. You could become a Friend of the Gideons. If you are interested please contact us.
Tony and Mary Lewis