An Empty Hotel Room And An Empty Heart

Savannah, Tennessee. To Bob, it seemed like the ideal place to begin his family and his dentistry career. After all, his dad and brother already had a medical practice there. So he and his wife, Detra, moved there after he graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry.

Detra made it a priority to find a good church with a good music program. Bob, however, chose not to attend church with her. Instead, he sought fellowship in some of the local civic clubs. Sadly, some of the people he began to associate with in those organizations helped to re-awaken an old demon in Bob-an addiction to alcohol. And that opened the door for another vice-being unfaithful to his wife.

As the years passed, Detra remained faithful and continued to take their two daughters, Ashley and Lesley, to Hopewell Baptist Church each week. She also volunteered to help out with the churchs youth program and joined the choir.

A Road Trip Becomes Painfully Awkward

One day, Detra learned from her husbands employees that he was planning a weekend seminar at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. She persuaded Bob to allow her and the children to tag along.

On the drive down to South Carolina, Detra reached beneath the car seat and pulled out a case of audio cassettes.

“Whats that?” asked Bob.

“Oh, you wont mind this… its child psychology,” Detra replied coyly.

She hit the play button on the tape player, and the words began to boom from the cars speakers.

“First I want to speak to the dads. Dad, I dont care what kind of car youre driving. I dont care what kind of clothes youre wearing, I dont care who you run around with, or where you live. If you, sir, are not taking your children by the hand to Gods house on Sunday, and if youre not living a godly life in front of them during the week...then sir, no matter what those things I mentioned look, sir, are a total failure in life.“

Those recorded words from the voice of Pastor Dr. Charles Stanley hit Dr. Bob like a ton of bricks. He swallowed hard and said nothing.

A Familiar Bible Verse

The family arrived in Hilton Head and checked into their hotel. The girls quickly changed into their beachwear and hurried out to the beach with their mother.

And there was Bob. Alone in that empty hotel room-the finest hotel he and his family had ever seen. Yet the feeling inside Bobs heart was empty and lonely. He looked outside the window and saw his happy little girls and his beautiful Christian wife walking across the courtyard toward the beach.

He turned away from the window and something caught his eye. It was a Bible lying on the nightstand. “Great. Some idiot has left a Bible in my room,” he said to himself. Little did he know that the person who left that Bible in the room placed it there through The Gideons International.

Bob could not resist the urge to pick it up. As he did, a verse of Scripture he had learned as a boy in Vacation Bible School came to mind…

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

That familiar verse penetrated Bobs heart. He sat there, anxiously turning that Bible over and over in his hands. He finally realized what he needed to do. So alone in that hotel room, Bob knelt between the beds and prayed, \“Father I have sinned against you, please forgive me. I have totally messed up my life, and I need Jesus to be the boss in my life.“

When Detra came back from the beach, she could tell Bob had been crying. And then he told her his news:

“Honey, Ive been born again!“

However, he had lied to her so many times before. Could she truly believe what he was saying?

Reserving any sign of emotion, she simply replied, “Well, well see.”

A New Life, A New Hope

The first Sunday upon their return home, Detra and the kids went to church…and this time, Bob went as well. At the conclusion of the service, he shocked the entire congregation as he walked forward during the altar call. “Ive been saved and I want to be baptized,” he told the pastor.

About eighteen months later, Jim, a fellow member at church, approached Bob and said, “Weve seen what God has done in your life, Bob. We think you would do well serving with us in The Gideons International.”

Dr. Bob looked at him and said, “Jim, Ive tried joining all the clubs in town, and they didnt work out.“

“Bob, The Gideons International isnt a club,” said Jim. “Were a Christian organization of business and professional men.” And he went on to explain to Bob that one of the activities of The Gideons International was to place Bibles in hotel rooms-like the hotel room in Hilton Head where Bob turned his life over to Jesus.

Today, as a member of The Gideons International, Dr. Bob shares his testimony in churches, encouraging members as they enable more copies of Gods Word to be placed throughout the world by men and women serving in The Gideons International. All to help other husbands and fathers and countless other people like Bob come to receive the hope that is only possible through Jesus. All for the glory of God.

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