Gideons International

God’s House supports our local chapter of Gideons.

The organization, an early American parachurch organization dedicated to Christian evangelism, was founded in 1899 at the YMCA in Janesville, Wisconsin by two traveling businessmen who met by chance when they shared a hotel room in Boscobel, Wisconsin and refined their idea in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.[2] It began distributing free Bibles, the work it is chiefly known for, in 1908, when the first Bibles were placed in the rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana.[3] The local railway station at the time was named Iron Mountain, causing confusion as to the name of the town.[4]

The organization describes its link to the story of Gideon:

Gideon was a man who was willing to do exactly what “God” wanted him to do, regardless of his own judgment as to the plans or results. Humility, faith, and obedience were his great elements of character. This is the standard that The Gideons International is trying to establish in all its members, each man to be ready to do God’s will at any time, at any place, and in any way that the Holy Spirit leads.

In keeping with this symbolism, the symbol of the Gideons is a two-handled pitcher and torch, recalling Gideon’s victory over the Midianites as described in Judges, Chapter 7.

In addition to their well-known hotel-room Bibles, the Gideons also distribute Bibles to members of the military of various countries, to hospitalsnursing homesprisonsMPs and students. A typical Gideon Bible or New Testament contains:

  • a short preface;
  • a pamphlet suggesting Bible verses that may be of assistance in various sorts of trouble;
  • translations of John 3:16 into a variety of languages and scripts;
  • 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);
  • a short description of Biblical salvation, with Biblical quotations, and a place for the reader to sign and date his confession of Jesus (this is especially common in the shorter editions the New Testament and Psalms).

The Gideons principally use the King James Version for their Bibles.[5] The Gideons also distribute New King James Bibles and Testaments, which they refer to as “Modern English Version” (MEV) Bibles and Testaments. According to the Gideon Guidebook, these MEV Scriptures are used as a supplement to the KJV Bibles. Typically, MEV Bibles are allowed to be distributed only when either the Bible purchaser, Hotel, or the recipient specifies a desire for a modern Bible.

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