It was 1899; social unrest was rife, racial tensions were high and technology was revolutionising the way the American people lived and worked. Against this backdrop of change and instability, three business men met together at the YMCA in Janesville, Wisconsin to make a commitment to encourage each other and share Jesus with everyone they met, no matter what.
These three remarkable men, John H. Nicholson, Samuel E. Hill and Will J. Knights, became known as The Gideons, taking their inspiration and their name from the faithful Old Testament leader. Within a year, more than 600 others joined their ranks, each committing to do God’s will at any time, in any place and in any way that the Holy Spirit led.
In those first few years, the majority of Gideons were commercial travellers, supporting one another as they spent months on end in hotel rooms the length and breadth of the country. When one of their members, Fred Woodcock, took a trip to Scotland he encountered the work of the British-based Commercial Travellers’ Christian Association who placed Bibles in British hotel rooms. The idea was simple and effective, so Fred proposed that The Gideons do the same in hotel rooms across the USA.
They began by placing 25 Gideons Bibles in the Superior Hotel, Iron Mountain, Montana in November 1908. They were the first of more than 2 billion Scriptures that have been distributed by The Gideons since. That trip to Scotland also set The Gideons on track to become an international organisation, as they signed up their first member outside the USA.
The movement they started continues to impact lives across the world more than a century later. With 300,000 members in 200 nations, The Gideons work closely as a non-denominational organisation with the financial, physical and prayerful support of the global Church. Our members remain committed to humbly, obediently and faithfully doing God’s will at any time, in any place and in any way the Holy Spirit leads them.