Celebrating 2.5 Billion Seeds Sown

This fall, we officially surpassed 2.5 billion Scriptures placed and distributed worldwide. Today, join us in praising God for this milestone! We are grateful for His provision that allows us to continue sharing the Gospel through His Word.

Beyond Our Imagination

This journey began when Samuel Hill and John Nicholson met at a crowded hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin, in 1898. They shared a room with double beds, and before retiring for the evening, Mr. Nicholson asked Mr. Hill if he wouldn’t mind if he prayed and read his Bible. This was a practice he promised his mother he would do as a young boy. Mr. Hill was a Christian and asked Mr. Nicholson to read aloud, and the two men started a strong friendship.

An idea started to take root that would later become The Gideons International. The mission was simple—to win the lost for Jesus Christ. A significant method to accomplish this mission started in 1908 when Scripture Distribution efforts began. The ministry was growing, and thousands of men were leaning into God’s call to serve in this Association.

At the 1923 Annual Convention, Samuel R. Boggs was elected national president. Under his watch, the target to place more than 100,000 Bibles in one year was set. The goal was reached nearly three years later on June 30, 1926, with 100,195 Bibles placed in a single year.

The one-millionth Bible was placed in January 1929—months before the crash of the United States stock exchange. It was the start of one of the most trying times in the nation. Association President Jason M. Averill stood before the Memphis Convention in 1930 and said, “Through it all, God, in His infinite wisdom, has blessed our ministry far and beyond that which we have any reason to expect.”

More growth would come in the early 1940s when one member had the vision to reach the men and women who serve in the United States military. Charles Pietsch of the first Honolulu Camp in Hawaii came to the International Cabinet with an appeal for pocket-size Testaments for the Pacific Fleet, which was based at Pearl Harbor. Mr. Pietsch asked the Cabinet to sponsor the suggestion, and he personally paid for the first 10,000 Testaments. The days of war that followed were dark and hard. Yet, in the aftermath of these events, it was discovered many soldiers who were killed had previously signed the back page of their Testament indicating a decision to follow Christ.

We plant, and God gives the growth in His perfect timing.

More Seeds Sown and Counting…

By June 1953, 25 million Scriptures were now in hotels, schools, and the military. God was using His Word to change lives. By the early 1970s, The Gideons reached the milestone of the 100-millionth Scripture. President Richard M. Nixon received a commemorative copy. At the time, an estimated one million Scriptures were being distributed every 46 days, while it had taken 21 years (1908 – 1929) to place the first million.

Scriptures went out at 75,000 per day in the mid-1980s, and total membership topped 150,000. While the numbers were important, former International President Scott Myers challenged all members, “Let us never forget that ours is a spiritual ministry, and it takes spiritual people to carry it out. Our real strength is not in the numbers but in our devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Gideons crossed another milestone as the 500-millionth Scripture was distributed soon after the turn of the century. President George H. W. Bush was presented with a commemorative Bible on July 30, 1990. On September 10, 2001, the one-billionth Scripture was distributed by The Gideons International. Former Executive Director Jerry Burden said, “Who would have thought our world would be irreversibly changed by the catastrophic events of 9/11? Personal security and assumption of safety have been replaced by anxiousness and fear.” Yet, the Association moved forward trusting in the Lord.

The first billion took 93 years, from 1908 to 2001. The second billion was attained in less than 14 years. God has given the increase.

We celebrate 2.5 billion seeds sown so men, women, boys, and girls may have the chance to continue experiencing the life-changing message of Jesus Christ through His Word. In response to this incredible achievement, former International Auxiliary President Cindy Davis says, “Praise God for every Gideon and Auxiliary, prayer, Scripture, and especially for every soul saved!”

While we celebrate what God has done, we know there is more planting and watering to be done. Many people will go to bed tonight without knowing the Savior that gave His life for them. May we all, by His grace alone, continue to reach a lost and dying world with the truth of God’s Word until Jesus returns.

“All glory and praise to God our Heavenly Father and to His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for blessing and guiding this great ministry since the first Scriptures were placed in 1908! God has used faithful Gideons and Auxiliary to place, distribute, and personally share His precious and powerful Word these many years. We praise Him for the 2.5 billionth copy that has been placed in the highways and byways of life!” — International Chaplain Kim Powell

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