Addicted to the Word

by The Gideons International on September 16, 2014

In middle school, I remember a Gideon handed me a New Testament after class. I was raised in a Christian home and thought I knew all there was to know about being a Christian, so I set the book aside for several years.

At age 19, I became involved with drugs and alcohol. I drank every chance I could find and went through ten different jobs before landing a full time position at a clothing factory. I was assigned the late shift, and found I had a lot of time to myself during work hours. So, I decided to read the Bible.

The orange New Testament I had received in high school was the perfect size to carry to work. The more I read, the deeper my convictions became. I knew my substance abuse was holding me back from developing a full relationship with God. Once I made the decision to quit abusing drugs and alcohol, I became addicted to the Word, and my life began to change.

Pastor Nace Howell reads the orange New Testament he received from a Gideon many years ago.

Pastor Nace Howell reads the orange New Testament he received from a Gideon many years ago.

Soon, I felt God calling me to become a pastor. I graduated from Lancaster Bible college with a Bachelor of Science, then finished with a Masters in Divinity at Luther Rice Seminary. Today, I serve as the Senior Pastor at Harrisburg First Church of God, in Pennsylvania.

God’s Word is infinitely life changing. What I find most exciting about knowing Jesus is the discovery and ownership of truth. As a younger man, I listened to the Gospel of John on an iPod during work until I nearly memorized it. John’s emphasis was the truth of Jesus—He was the Son of God. Showing the historical Jesus is the truth, is where my pastoral passion lies.

I still have the New Testament that proved so instrumental in my life, though now the pages are worn and the binding is held together with tape. If I could talk to the Gideon who gave me this book when I was a kid, I would thank him and encourage him to continue the Lord’s work. Like so many others changed by the power in the conviction of the Word, I am the fruit of labor for many faithful Gideons who are consistent in distributing the Gospel.

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From the Inside Out

by The Gideons International on September 12, 2014

My name is Ramona, and this is the short version of how God saved my life:

My mother loved God and tried her best to guide us in the right direction. My father, on the other hand, was an abusive alcoholic.

I ended up marrying multiple times, always to abusive men who used alcohol and drugs. When I finally escaped, instead of choosing the path my mother had tried to show me, I chose the path of destruction. I harbored anger, hate, and unforgiveness and masked it with drugs and alcohol. I built up so many walls to protect myself that one day I discovered I was trapped inside and did not know how to break free. However, God was using this as a way to turn my life around.

Hotel Bible Sept 11, 2014One night about 30 years ago, while I was out drinking with several other friends at the Pagoda Hotel in Hawaii, I saw a Bible in one of the drawers. For whatever reason, I took it home. I didn’t actually read it for a couple of years. When my heart was desperate, the only Bible in the house was that hotel Bible placed by a Gideon.

Of course I did not know where to begin reading, but there were a lot of helps in the front, so I started there. After a while, it was like the words on the pages came to life, and my eyes were opened. God began to cleanse me of the anger and unforgiveness. He set me free from the things that bound me.

In John 20:23, Jesus told His disciples, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

In my pain and unforgiveness toward my father and those who had abused me, I retained those sins and became that which I hated—an alcoholic and abuser. Reading the Bible, I cried out to God, forgave those who had hurt me, and discovered God’s love gave me new life. He loved me in spite of knowing every horrible thing about me. He changed me from the inside out.

My parents are deceased now, and I am eternally thankful for my mother, who was consistent in her love for God. She was a light in a very dark place. During my father’s last few years, I became his caregiver. God restored our relationship and allowed me to love and care for him. One month before his passing, I was able to led him to Christ. God can turn what the enemy intended for evil into something wonderful!

This was a turning point for me. I grew to have a deep compassion and love for the senior population, which eventually lead me to become the Director of Activities for a senior living residence.

I am thankful the local Gideon camp recently came to the senior living home to provide Bibles to our residents. I am able to share the power of God’s Word with the men and women here, as I continue to witness to and pray for them. And it all began with a Bible taken from a hotel.

—Ramona K., Carmichael, California

Edited by The Gideons International

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