Days Before Bombs Dropped At Pearl Harbor, Gideons Placed New Testaments There

by Kevin Mcintosh on December 7, 2010

Charles J. Pietsch returns to Hawaii in March of 1942 to present New Testaments from The Gideons International to Chaplains of the U.S. Navy.

December 7th, 1941. As the U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said in his December 8th address to the the U.S. Congress, it was “a date which will live in infamy.”

And while the tragedy of the Pearl Harbor attacks will forever be a dark moment in world history, there is comfort in knowing that days before bombs dropped at Pearl Harbor, New Testaments were placed in the hands of many of the servicemen and women there.

In 1940, Charles J. Pietsch, a member of The Gideons International felt led to contact the Chief of Chaplains of both the U.S. Army and Navy. He was seeking permission to give a copy of the New Testament to each man and woman in the U.S. Armed Forces who wished to receive one.

Navy Chief of Chaplains, R.D. Workman, met with Mr. Pietsch in Washington D.C. and immediately granted approval to the proposal to offer Testaments to Naval personnel.

So in January of 1941, the International Cabinet of The Gideons International approved the decision to supply the Armed Forces with copies of God’s Word. Acting wholly in faith, the Cabinet ordered 50,000 Testaments.

On December 2, 1941, some of the first Service Testaments were distributed to the U.S. Navy Personnel at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Who, other than our Lord, could have known that only 5 days later, Pearl Harbor would become the site of what, at that time, was the deadliest attack ever on American soil.

In an article titled, “Lamps Are Going Out” in the February 1942 edition of The Gideon magazine, Mr. Pietsch wrote:

“How glad we Gideons should be that God laid it on our hearts to get the Word of God on our Naval Ships, and Testaments in the hands of our Armed Forces only five days before Pearl Harbor was bombed! On December second, it was the writer’s privilege to place in the hands of our President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, an exact copy of the Bible placed on our Navy Ships, and a copy of the Testament and Psalms bound in white, similar to those placed on the ships…”

Following the attack, there were reports of servicemen’s bodies being pulled from the waters with copies of the Gideon-placed Testaments in their pockets, with the decision pages signed and dated.

Also, amazingly, a shipment of 5,000 Service Testaments reached the military base at Corregidor on the Bataan Peninsula of the Philippines on Saturday before the war began on Monday morning, December 8 (Philippines’ time). Later, hundreds of American soldiers, many of whom would die in prison camps, received Christ when reading these Testaments.

As God’s Word continues to go out today from The Gideons International into more than 190 countries at the rate of over 1 million Scriptures per week, it brings to mind these words of Mr. Pietsch:

“. . . now in this present crisis, as Christians, ‘Let our lights so shine before men that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in Heaven,’ Matthew 5:16. What more substantial work could we do for the Lord than to give His Word, for the very entrance of His Words ‘giveth light,’ Psalm 119:130.”

Related Stories:

A U.S. Military Chaplain’s Plea: Share In Our Lord’s Great Commission

Remembering Our War Veterans

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy Foss December 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm

My Dad had, I now have, a publication by National Publishing company, original copyright 1941.His copy is 1943.Same pocket size.Interesting but especially because of things in it. On the cover it states ATTENTION by special request of the U.S.Military and Naval Authorities you are instructed to place your NAME ONLY on the fly leaf, nothing more. It goes on and says it info written could be valuable information to the enemy.Has hymns and a letter from he then President of the U.S.My Dads intials are printed on back cover.Very interesting!

Is this valuable?Never saw anything like it!


TINA January 31, 2012 at 9:24 am

I have the 1941 issed & was wondering the same thing. If you get an authentic proessional reply will you email it to me? I will do the same for you. Thanks in advance.


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