by The Gideons International on October 21, 2014

Recently, we received an email with the following testimony:

My name is Ravi. I was raised in an orthodox upper-caste family in India. My father was very strict and controlling. I was a devotee of Hindu and read most of the eastern religion books, careful to follow all the rituals with utmost dedication.

As a young man, I was accepted into the engineering program at one of India’s best universities. I remember always feeling lonely and depressed. I was mean to others, never enjoying any true friendship and always suspicious of people.

My heart held great hatred for God, for His Word, and for His people. My radical Hindu friends at the university and I used to destroy the New Testaments distributed on campus by Gideons. I strongly believed and stated many times, “We have 30 million gods and there is no place for Christ in India.”

Divine Intervention On A Train Ride Toward Destruction
By the third year of my studies, I had become very depressed and isolated. I still remember the place I was sitting on campus when I made the decision to kill myself. Because I did not want to bring shame to my family or have them read about my death in the newspapers, I determined to carry out my plan in the city of Goa, a two-day train ride, on the other side of India.

On the train, the Lord provided a stranger beside me for a short period of the journey. He was a Christian. He presented me his Bible, which was from The Gideons International, and explained the Gospel to me. He also told me I would soon meet some unknown people and that it was the Lord’s plan for me to follow them.

When I arrived in Goa, true to the exhortation I had received, I met some people who spoke the language of my home state (Telugu) and who also were followers of Jesus. They were very poor, but very loving, and rich in Christian faith. I spent three weeks with them. Through them, the Lord taught me the purpose of living.

The Lord used a Bible from The Gideons to get my attention. He spoke to me through Isaiah 41:10 and assured me He would help me, lead me, strengthen me, and take care of me the rest of my life: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Growing In The Faith
I prayed for God to lead me where He would have me serve, and one day His answer came loud and clear. I had stopped at a church to pray, and there on the steps was a U.S. dime. It was the first time I had seen American currency. As I picked up the coin, I read “In God We Trust.” Immediately, I started applying for jobs in America, and within a few months, I landed a job in Philadelphia.

I was baptized shortly thereafter in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. God anointed me with His Spirit, and I dedicated my life as a testimony to His mercy. God provided me a Christian wife, and a baby boy, Jonathan, a year later.

Ravi's baptism

Ravi moments before his baptism.

I do not forget where I come from. God has placed a burden for India on my heart. There are over 1 billion non-Christian souls in India, including my relatives. My hope is to live a life in obedience to the Lord as I pray for my family and trust God to reveal himself to them as He has done for me.

Today, I am living a Christ-centered life. He is the ultimate meaning of my life. I am a living testimony of Christ and I love to witness. I am an active member of many Christian organizations, including The Gideons International, working to distribute the same Scriptures I once destroyed.

Edited by The Gideons International

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Through the Windy City

by The Gideons International on October 17, 2014

2014 Chicago Metro Blitz University of Chicago

A Gideon offers copies of God’s Word at the University of Chicago campus during the recent 2014 Chicago Scripture Blitz. © 2014 The Gideons International

Chicago is the third most populated city in the USA. With a culture of many different people groups, the Chicago metro area is filled with opportunities for God to work among the nations–all within this single city.

The eight-day Chicago Scripture Blitz began September 29, 2014. Around 150 Gideon and Auxiliary members participated, which allowed for a wide expanse of Scripture distribution throughout the city. Major colleges and universities, middle and high schools, nursing homes, hotels, hospitals, and many fire and police stations received the Word of God thanks to your prayers.

God Works On Hearts At Chicago Schools
At the University of Chicago, students streamed out of classrooms, and Gideons were met with so many opportunities they struggled to distribute Scriptures fast enough to meet the demand. Blitz team member Gunard Polite from North Chicago was overwhelmed by the response, as he quickly emptied a box of New Testaments and called for more.

One student, Michael, received his New Testament and just stood there looking at it, turning the book over in his hands nervously. A Gideon began to explain to Michael the Helps in the front of the book and the Plan of Salvation in the back. He shared the Gospel message of God’s love for the world and His plan to send His Son to die for our sins. As if a light were suddenly turned on, Michael’s face lit up. “That is wonderful,” he said. The young man was not ready to make a commitment at that time, but he promised he would read the New Testament.

God continued to protect Gideons as they shared copies of God’s Word at inner-city schools. By God’s grace, at one school, Gideons were in position to give Scriptures to students who had just left the scene of a fight.

One scheduled school distribution was cancelled due to weather, and Gideons again prayed for a “heavenly umbrella” so they could complete the work. The team continued their distributions in the surrounding area schools. The students were very open to receiving Scriptures. As the last two New Testaments remaining were handed out, the rain poured. God was at work at Chicago schools, and just like the rain, His Word began to saturate the campuses.

An Amazing Jail Visit
Saturday, a group of Gideons walked into Cook County Jail, the third-largest jail in the USA with over 12,500 inmates. The building was separated into 14 large rooms, each containing rows of bunk beds, tables, and sinks. The inmates were gathered in groups, playing cards, lying on beds, or watching television. As a guard stood watch, the door opened to the cell and a group of Gideons stepped in, praying for protection and boldness as the eyes of hardened criminals followed their steps.

Dave Youmans, a Gideon from Illinois, opened a box of Bibles and stated in a loud voice, “We have a free gift for everyone. If you could turn off the television, and everyone gather around, we have great news for you!” The guards were amazed at the boldness of this Gideon as well as the inmates’ instant interest in hearing what the Gideons had to say. Dave then began to proclaim the Gospel as the prisoners stood attentive.

When offered an opportunity to receive Christ, a group of the prisoners wept. It was like the Spirit of God was rushing in as wind through that cell.

Those same men, who only a half hour earlier appeared so intimidating, were now joining hands with the Gideons in prayer. You could hear the echoes of the sinner’s prayer bouncing off the walls, as they prayed in unison.

“Imagine a circle of criminals, rough looking men tattooed with gang symbols, joined hand-in-hand asking the God of creation to forgive their sins and change their lives. The air was thick with the Holy Spirit—you could just reach out and touch it.” one member added.

The Impact Of The Chicago Blitz
To our members, donors, pastors and others who support us through prayer and giving, thank you for helping make the Chicago Scripture Blitz a success. At latest count, the team distributed nearly 100,000 copies of Gods’ Word that week.

We praise God that in this day and age, the Word of God continues to get out into our inner cities.