Posted by: stpowen | October 15, 2013

Great Blessing at Gideon Outreach

Mark 4:14. ‘The sower sows the word.’

I may have mentioned in a previous article that I am a member of Gideons International. Last week I had the joy of helping to distribute large quantities of God’s word at Exeter University.

I suppose that many readers will know who the Gideons are, but for those who don’t, Gideons International is an organization of Christian Business and Professional men and their wives who believe the Bible to be the very word of God throughout, and who are members in good standing of a Protestant church {1}. The aim of Gideons Int. is to ‘win men and women, boys and girls to the Lord Jesus Christ’ by the grace of God, and we seek to do this by prayer, by personal witnessing, by placing Bibles in hotels, prisons, retirement homes, hospitals and elsewhere, and by presenting Scriptures to school children, students, police officers, the armed services, doctors and nurses. Gideons place and distribute around 85 million Scriptures worldwide each year and the total number given out since its inception now approaches 2 Billion in 196 countries.

Exeter University is one of the most prestigious universities in Britain after Oxford and Cambridge. It has a goodly number of foreign students and a large centre for Islamic Studies, funded by some Sheikh or other from Saudi Arabia. The Gideons had negotiated with the Chaplaincy and with the Christian Union to take a stand in the Forum, a thoroughfare much used by students, and to offer Scriptures to those who passed by.

There had been some indication that God might be ahead of us and that we might be pushing at an open door because the big evangelical churches in Exeter were reporting large number of students, especially Chinese ones, coming along to services. In the event, we found hundreds of students, especially, though not exclusively, the foreign ones, eager to receive the copies of the New Testament and Psalms that we were offering. Some would take the Testaments almost en passant and hurry on with just a brief word of thanks, while others would pause for a moment giving us time to explain about the ‘Bible Helps,’ a kind of topical concordance, which are placed in the front of all Gideon Scriptures. A few would engage in conversation, giving us time to explain something of the way of salvation. It was a joy to see students sitting down outside in the sunshine reading the Scriptures. Even Moslem students were prepared to receive the Testaments when we explained that they would tell them about the prophet ‘Isa.’ By God’s grace may they soon discover that He is indeed a prophet, and a great deal more beside.

On the first day, we gave out around 850 Scriptures and felt that we had gone pretty much flat out the whole time. However, when we returned for the second day we were informed that our distribution had been a huge talking-point among the students, and there was an even greater interest, with many young people coming up to us and requesting Scriptures. That day we gave out 1,350 Testaments. Some of the older Gideons (several were aged over 80!) were utterly exhausted by the time we finished, but at the same time we were all buoyed up by the sense that God had been with us blessing our enterprise. We were put in mind of the Parable of the Sower. We have sowed the seed, but on what soil has it fallen? Some without doubt has fallen on the pathway, some on rocky soil and some amongst weeds. But by God’s grace we believe that some has fallen on good soil, prepared by the Lord. His word will not return to Him void. Only time will tell, but we understand that there were around 200 students at the Evangelical Christian Union meeting last week, including several who have not come before. May God bless His work and give the C.U. and those Exeter churches where the Gospel is faithfully preached, a great harvest.

We were much indebted to St. Thomas Baptist Church and its minister, Stephen Couseley, for their prayers and encouragement and for letting us use the church as a base and a storage point for the Scriptures.

The next day, some of us were at Exmouth Community College, one of the largest Secondary Schools in Britain with 370 pupils in Year Seven (11-12 year-olds). We had the opportunity to speak to the children for 15 minutes at their Assembly, and then to offer each a New Testament and Psalms as they filed out. As we prayed together before the Assembly, I was moved to pray that there would not be any refusals. This would be an unlikely occurrence since there are always pupils whose parents’ religion requires them to decline. God however, graciously over-ruled and every single child accepted the Testament as it was offered.

The Gideons are in urgent need of new members nation-wide. If anyone reading this complies with the membership qualification outlined above, why not find out more at http://www.gideons.org.uk It is a great way of reaching the lost and playing a small part in fulfilling the Great Commission. At a time when so many young people know absolutely nothing about the Lord Jesus Christ, we need to get the Scriptures into their hands.

NOTE.

[1} Gideons must also have trusted in Christ for salvation, believe in the eternal punishment of unrepentant sinners and not be a member of a secret society (e.g. Free Masons) or a church minister.

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