Gideons pass out the Word at KSU

Abbey Stirgwolt

Once upon a time, a New York gang acquired several Gideon Bibles. The Bibles’ pages proved excellent for rolling joints of marijuana, and were thereafter used by the gang for this purpose.

One day, as the ringleader was rolling a joint, he opened his Bible and read John 3:16. He gave his life to Christ and, by a year later, all but one of the other gang members had done the same.

Lyle Austin, president of the Wadsworth chapter of the Gideons Organization, told this story with a smile on his face.

The Gideons are part of an an international organization whose mission is to spread the Gospel by passing out Bibles and sharing their faith.

“(We) hand out testaments at colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels and professional businesses,” said Roy Burns, a self-proclaimed Gideon “newbie” who attends a Friends church in Wadsworth.

Burns, Austin and several of their fellow Gideons visited the campus yesterday to pass out Bibles and spread the message of the Gospel to all who would hear them.

“We make sure everyone has a copy of God’s Word so the Holy Spirit can work in their hearts and they can become His children,” Austin said.

The Gideons International, founded in 1899, is comprised of men across the world who are sponsored by churches to take the Gospel to the masses.

Burns said the Gideons are not affiliated with any particular denomination. Any man who desires to be a Gideon must find a sponsor and be approved by the organization to make sure he is spiritually prepared to share the Gospel.

“There are guidelines, of course,” Burns said.

The Bibles the Gideons hand out, all New King James Version, are purchased by donations from sponsoring churches. Each Bible contains a special section in the back with information about what a person can do to accept Christ.

Burns said the Gideons use the Testaments and personal witnessing to spread the Gospel to college students and the other organizations they visit.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said junior English major Mike Thompson, “but I think it would be better if they had someone more youthful doing it. It’s kind of hard to talk to some 67-year-old guy standing on the corner handing out neon green Bibles.”

Of the more than 250,000 Gideons chapters worldwide, 130,000 are located in the United States.

“We visited (The University of) Akron a month ago and handed out 5,000 Bibles,” said Gideon Levi Miller.

Contact religion reporter Abbey Stirgwolt at [email protected].