Saturday, March 04, 2006

Gideons International

This morning I attended a men's breakfast that was organized by men from Trinity Baptist Church in Burlington and Pilgrim Baptist Fellowship in Ancaster. Not only did I enjoy a wonderful breakfast of eggs and bacon and toast, but I heard an inspiring presentation by representatives of the Gideons. The Gideons are a group of Christian businessmen and their wives that I am personally familar with because my father and mother have been part of the Burlington Gideon Camp for as long as I can remember. My father-in-law is also a Gideon and very active in that ministry in the Sarnia/Lambton County. In fact, I can remember going as a young boy with my father to the public school to hand out New Testaments to the students. Over the years I have always been impressed with the dedication of this group of men and women and especially with their passion for the word of God. In Sarnia where I ministered for many years I used to enjoy attending a pastor's breakfast hosted by the local Gideon camp each year. The food and the fellowship were great and I admired the willingness of these busy men to take time to encourage their pastors and to assure us of their support and prayers.

One thing that I have always enjoyed about the Gideon ministry are the stories and personal testimonies they love to share about what God has done through the Scriptures they are committed to distributing everywhere. This morning I heard one such testimony that moved me to tears. It was the story of Asif Hassan, a Muslim who immigrated from British Guyana to Canada at 10 years of age. It was a tragic story of a boy and then young man who suffered all manner of abuse before turning to the violence of gang life. Eventually he found himself in trouble with the law and he was sent to jail. When all seemed lost and he was all alone, an uncle from the United States, who was a pastor, came to see him in jail and gave him a Gideon Bible. At first, Asif was angered when he read about God's involvement in people's lives, wondering where God had been when he needed him so much. Asif was so angry that he threw his new Bible against the prison wall. But the next night he took it up again and began to read. And the same the next night until that Lord broke into his life and graciously brought him to himself.

As I listened to Asif I was reminded of the awesome power of God to save sinners. Sometimes amid all the silly fussing that goes on in churches about the most ridiculous things we can forget that this is what it's all about! Someone once said that the whole gospel can be summed up in three short words: God saves sinners. How true it is and how we need to remember the great debt of love we owe and the greatness of the treasures that are stored up for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. God is great and his word will not return to him empty. How we should rejoice in that and ask him to use us in whatever way he sees fit to build his kingdom. We should never underestimate the power of his word in the hands of the Holy Spirit to make human beings new creations in Christ Jesus.

The Gideons are always looking for Christians who want to serve the Lord by their personal witness and involvement in Scripture distribution. If you are looking for a challenge why not get in touch with them. The web address is www.gideons.ca. Again thanks to Gideons Laurie Chalk, Peter and his wife Kelly, and to Asif and his wife for sharing with us this morning. Also thanks to Bert Kooyman and Jerry Bargeman for organizing the breakfast. And as Asif reminded us this morning, we should view every Bible as a potential miracle!

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