THE HISTORY OF THE GIDEONS INTERNATIONAL
In the autumn of 1898, John H. Nicholson of Janesville, Wisconsin, came to the Central Hotel at Boscobel, Wisconsin, to stay for the night. As the hotel was crowded, it was suggested that he take a bed in a double room with Samuel E. Hill of Beloit, Wisconsin. The two men soon discovered that they were both Christians. They had their evening devotions together. On their knees before God, God inspired them to make a difference in the lives of other travelers. These thoughts would later develop into an association.
On May 31, 1899, the two men met again at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, where they concluded to bind Christian commercial travelers together for mutual recognition, personal Evangelism, and united service for the Lord. They decided to call a meeting in Janesville, Wisconsin on July 1, 1899.
Only three men were present at that meeting: John H. Nicholson, Samuel E. Hill, and Will J. Knights. They organized with Hill as president, Knights as vice-president, and Nicholson as secretary and treasurer. Much thought was given to what the name of the association should be. After special prayer that God might lead them to select the proper name, Mr Knights arose from his knees and said, “We shall be called Gideons.” He read the sixth and seventh chapters of Judges and showed the reason for suggesting that name.
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. 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
Our Vision so far
The vision comes from Philippians 1:27 and is called Striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel, in One Spirit, One Mind, and One Vision, or simply called One Vision.
One Vision empowers us to effectively and joyfully win others to the Lord Jesus Christ. One Vision grounds us on the association’s founding principles, focuses us on the Great Commission, and empowers us to serve in one spirit and one mind.
As members we have been called by God – brothers and sisters in Christ, husbands along with our wives – striving together to effectively and joyfully reach the world with the Good News through associating together for service, personal testimony, personal work and distributing God’s Word.
70 YEARS IN 2020
The first Gideon camp in South Africa was formed at Pietermaritzburg in October 1950. The next camp was formed in Johannesburg. In 1951 camps were formed in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
The first placement of Bibles in a hotel was in 1952 at the Hotel Edward in Durban, and in 1954 a camp is established in Durban. The first annual general meeting takes place at the Carlton hotel in Johannesburg in 1955, and in 1958 a camp is established in Pretoria.
In 1962 camps are established in East London and the West Rand. In 1964 Kimberley and East rand camps were established.
The Gideons in South Africa attained National Association status in 1964 and the first annual National Convention is held in Bloemfontein the same year. Since 1950 close to 44 000 000 Bibles have been placed in South Africa
Distributing God’s Word can and does lead people to faith in Christ, and those new Christians then grow by studying their Scriptures and even use them to share their faith with others.
For this reason, we focus on distributing complete Bibles, New Testaments, or portions thereof. These copies of God’s Word are printed in more than 108 languages and are either given directly to certain individuals or placed in selected public locations where large numbers of people, who may be searching for answers, will have the opportunity to encounter the Word of God.