Editor’s Note: This article about the Gideons International has been divided into two parts published on March 24 and March 31. Here is the story in its entirety.
Gideons. We’ve all heard of Gideon's organization and probably even seen the Bibles they place in motel and hotel rooms. Who are these people?
“The Gideons International is an association of Christian business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through associating together for service, sharing personal testimony, and by providing Bibles and New Testaments,” The website stated.
Local Gideon, Jack Hardcastle said, “While we are often recognized for our work with hotels, we also place and distribute Scriptures in strategic locations so they are available to those who want them, as well as to those who may not know they need them.”
What effect does this world-wide organization have on Boone County? It only takes a few moments of speaking with Hardcastle to see his heart for getting God’s Word into the hands of boys and girls, men and women — in all stages of life. The Gideons have a very active ministry passing out Bibles in schools, jails and prisons.
There are encouraging stories after stories of people whose lives changed because someone handed them a Gideon New Testament. The latest printings have a “help” section listing where verses are located to address specific needs.
Gideons function as small groups of men called a “camp.” There are two groups, or camps in Harrison. Hardcastle is a part of Boone County North. The men meet once a month and host a pastor appreciation meal annually. There is also a group of businessmen who meet once a week for a time of prayer at 7 a.m. on Wednesdays.
Most Gideon members give generously to the organization so additional New Testaments can be purchased and distributed — world wide. Hardcastle said there are many people who like to make a donation “in memory” of a friend or loved one who passed away.
Gideons also love to make presentations in local Bible believing churches to raise awareness and accept donations for additional Bibles. Local Gideons pay monthly dues which supports the functions of the Gideons International Headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. So when a church or individual makes a donation it goes directly to printing more Bibles.
“Our purpose is to win the lost all over the world,” he said. “Our fiscal year goes from June 1 through May 31. Our New Testaments are printed in 109 languages and distributed in 200 countries. Last year we hit a big milestone and 2.5 billion testaments or scripture portions were distributed.”
Most Gideons purchase a case at a time of New Testaments to have them ready to pass out “in the traffic lanes of life,” as Hardcastle says. He keeps some in his vehicle and a few in his pocket, ready to share with someone in need.
“We are fortunate and blessed to live here and pass out New Testaments to fifth graders in area public schools and North Arkansas College,” he said.
Gideons often pay their own way to visit a third world country and be a part of a Bible distribution project. “The poverty in some areas around the world will just break your heart. But the people are so thankful to be handed a portion of the Bible.”
Each New Testament can be printed for $1.50 a Bible. Gideons have been known to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money at a time for the international project trips.
With more than 54,000 USA Gideon members, 7,619,310 New Testaments were distributed in the US last year. World scripture placements were 45,986,931. Restricted access nations had 160,000 scriptures distributed.
Lifetime world scripture placements are at 2,482,838,400.
To make a donation the address is Gideons International, P.O. Box 2846, Harrison, AR 72602. For questions or information about becoming a member call Hardcastle at 870 391-1168.
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