Getting the Word Out

  • Religion
  • 1908

In 1898, two traveling businessmen found themselves sharing a room in an overbooked Wisconsin hotel. On discovering that they were both Christians, they studied the Bible together and knelt in prayer. Encouraged by their fellowship, a year later these businessmen met with another friend in Janesville, Wisconsin, and formed a ministry for travelling businessmen. Calling themselves the Gideons—after the Old Testament judge who did whatever God called him to—they came up with an additional strategy for reaching their fellow travellers: placing a Bible in every hotel room in America. With the philanthropic support of their members and members’ home churches, the Bible project launched in 1908 became the Gideons’ signature outreach. Today, with 290,000 members in 190 countries, the Gideons have distributed 1.7 billion Bibles, stocking most hotels in the U.S. and many other countries.