Gideons reach out to community, set up booth at Covered Bridge

By Allison Berry

STAR STAFF

   For the first time, the Gideons of Elizabethton set up a booth during the Covered Bridge Days celebration.
   During the festivities, the Gideons set up a table to distribute Bibles, testaments, and tracts. A display rack was also set up, allowing people to take a card and place a Bible or testament in someone's name.
   The Elizabethton chaplain saw the Washington County Gideons' booth at the Appalachian Fair, spurring the Elizabethton Gideons toward the idea of having a booth at the Covered Bridge Days. After making contacts, the Gideons were given a spot to set up. This provided them with a wonderful opportunity to reach out to our community.
   Founded by three Wisconsin businessmen nearly 103 years ago, the Gideon organization is the oldest Christian professional men's association in the United States. The organization extends internationally, dispersed in 175 countries and 80 languages. Each week, two million people read the Bibles and testaments that the Gideons have placed.
   The purpose of the Gideons is to win the lost to Christ through personal testimony and the placement of Bibles and testaments in hotels, doctors' offices, high schools and colleges. Annually, 56 million Scriptures are distributed worldwide, averaging over one million copies every seven days, or 107 each minute. Bibles placed in hotel rooms have a life expectancy of six years and the potential to reach 2,300 people.
   Across the nation, over 140,000 people are members. Elizabethton's chapter alone has 57 members, with 26 auxiliary members. A non-profit organization, the Gideons give presentations at churches by way of invitation and collect offerings for the purchase of more Bibles and testaments.
   Auxiliary members are wives of Gideons who wish to be involved as well. These ladies are prayer warriors, and their main stream of contact with people is in nursing and the distribution of Bibles and testaments at doctors' offices.
   The name's origination is that Gideon was a man who made himself willing to do exactly what God wanted him to, regardless of his personal judgment. He exhibited traits such as humility, obedience and faith.
   Jim Perkins has been a member of the Gideons for many years, first introduced to the organization by a friend at his church. To Perkins, many memorable and indescribable experiences have come from being part of this organization: seeing people come to know Christ as their personal Savior, the fellowship with other Gideons, getting to place Scriptures around the world, and being part of the organization with his wife, Clara.
   For more information, visit the Gideons International web site at www.gideons.org or write the Elizabethton chapter at P.O. Box 1951, Elizabethton, TN 37644.