GRANGEVILLE -- “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations….” -- Matthew 28:19.
Gideons International has been adhering to that Bible verse since 1899.
“The sole purpose of Gideons is to distribute the Word of God,” said Mark Imus during a presentation at the Grangeville Church of the Nazarene, March 10. Imus, who is a retired family nurse practitioner from Syringa Hospital and Clinics, is a member of the Grangeville camp of Gideons International.
Imus told parishioners the first Bible was distributed to a hotel in Superior, Mont., in 1915, and to a hospital in the Midwest in the same year.
In 2001, Gideons surpassed the one billion mark for Bibles distributed,” he said. “In 2015, that number was two billion.”
He explained since the group has grown throughout the years, it is able to print Bibles less expensively and that the New Testament is available in virtually every language and making its way to nearly every country.
Gideons members distribute Bibles to prisons, college campuses, doctor’s offices, hospitals and hotels. The auxiliary, the women’s portion of the group, helps in these various areas.
“We believe Gideons save lives – both literally and figuratively,” he said, telling the story of a soldier saved when a bullet hit the small Bible in his shirt pocket. Closer to home, he said, local minister Michael Gulotta (Christian Reformed Church) was saved through an encounter with a Gideon Bible.
Imus said he joined Gideons at a time when he was going through personal struggles.
The Bible verse he carried with him at the time was Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
“I do not think it was a coincidence that, at that time, George Vrieling asked me to join Gideons,” he said.
Imus said that of all the symbols that may define him – including his WSU sweatshirt and VFW hat – that the greatest would be the Bible.
The Grangeville camp of Gideons is a self-sustaining group and all money donated goes to the direct publishing and distribution of Bibles.