Saturday, January 13, 2007

Gideon's for today

Gideons are not associated with innovative, emergent, exciting ministries. Instead, they are the stereotype of old white guys in suits and white shirts handing out Bibles to students, service persons, hotels and hospitals. I have endured a lot rubber chicken dinners in bland hotel ballrooms where testimonies are offered about the power of distributing Bibles all around the world.
So when I was invited to yet another pastors' appreciation breakfast, I went with little sense of adventure or anticipation. I went in honor of one of our members, a long-time Gideon. But something happened to me this morning as I listened to a husband and wife presentation team from Burbank, California. They gave witness to the incredible, life-transforming power of God's Word in the hands of spiritually hungry persons.
Maybe I listened with more interest because of my experience at the County Jail last Sunday. Before we were shepherded into our class-rooms one of the guards reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a dogeared lilttle white Gideon New Testament. When I asked him if he wanted me to get him a new one, he smiled at me and said, "Nah, this is a good old book!"
Quietly, regularly and sacrificially the Gideons keep handing out Bibles. Bibles they pay for. Bibles they deliver. They are not particularly hip or cool. But they make a difference. I wish they had a more egalitarian view of women in ministry. I wish they used better translations of the Bible. I wish they did not exclude tradespersons, insisting on professional men. But I was convicted that they are a vital part of the body of Christ.


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