A Sidewalk, a Youth Testament and a Funeral

by The Gideons International on February 8, 2011

During a sidewalk Youth Testament distribution at an elementary school in Tennessee, the principal came outside and marched back and forth in front of The Gideons while telling students to refuse the Testaments, taking them away from the children.

She then called the police. When the officers arrived, they asked the Gideons to leave. Although it is within the constitutional rights of the Gideons to distribute Scriptures from public sidewalks, they obeyed the police request.

Fortunately, many of the students had already received Testaments before the police arrived. One of those students was Russell.

The next fall, Russell was arriving to school late and dashed in front of an oncoming school bus. He was struck and killed only a few feet from where he’d received his Gideon Testament months earlier.

At Russell’s funeral, the minister showed the Gideon Testament, and shared how Russell loved and read it. He then showed the inside back cover, where Russell had written, “I love God,” and signed his name on the decision page.

Praise God that this copy of God’s Word got into the hands of a young boy. While his life was short, his testimony lives on.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Robinson Candelario February 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I praise God, for his power shown through his holy Word this day that Gideons were sent for God to give a wonderful message to Russell and now he is with our lovely father God for everlasting. To God be the glory.


tom putman February 15, 2011 at 4:33 am

Praise God for Russell (and children like him) who have gone to be with Jesus. They leave a testimony to the rest of us to be careful what we worship in this life. It’s only what we do for Jesus that has a lasting affect on others.

Tom Putman


Tim Thomas February 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I have been preparing a presentation for the upcoming speaker qualification, and was praying for the “perfect” opening testimony. Praise the Lord that Russell received that Testament, and God’s Word did the rest. I live in Tennessee; and God, through Russell, has given me the testimony I will use to further spread the message.

Praise HIM!


jim lott February 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Why did the Gideons back down? If we have the right to distribute we should take a stand.

It is going to be easier the next time and the next time until we will not be able to distribute at all. Bad decision made.


Ken February 21, 2011 at 8:50 pm

You are correct in that a bad decision by the authorities needs to be challenged but there is a time and place for everything. A confrontation with the principal and a police officer there on the sidewalk in front of the children would not be appropriate. Before the next distribution, the authorities would be notified beforehand of the intent to distribute on public property and be presented in writing the basis for their right to do do. Better to loose a battle than create a scene that would cause us to lose the war!
Thanks for your prayers, Brother. There is no easy way to reach young people with God’s Word and our campuses are a great unreached mission field.


Luther February 24, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I hope the principal knew that this was one of the children that she did not get to take the Testament from. I pray for that principal – she will be accountable for what she did. How did she have the right to take the Testaments from the children? I guess I understand that she could stop other children from receiving but to take the Testament from those who already had them??


Mike Edwards February 26, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Wow, that is one of those testimonies that chokes me up. Praise God!!!!


Luis Gustavo March 1, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Durante una distribución en la acera de Testamentos para jóvenes en una escuela primaria en Tennessee, el director vino fuera y anduvo en derredor de los Gedeones mientras decía a los estudiantes que rechazaran los Testamentos, arrebatándolos a los niños.

Luego llamó a la policía. Cuando los agentes llegaron, pidieron a los Gedeones que se retiraran. Aunque estaban dentro de sus derechos constitucionales para distribuir las Escrituras en aceras públicas, los Gedeones obedecieron la solicitud de la policía.

Afortunadamente, muchos de los estudiantes ya habían recibido su Testamento antes de que llegara la policía. Uno de los estudiantes fue Russell.

El otoño siguiente, Russell llegó tarde a la escuela y pasó corriendo frente a un autobús escolar que se aproximaba. Fue atropellado y murió a sólo unos metros de donde había recibido su Testamento Gedeón meses antes.

En el funeral de Russell, el Ministro mostró el Testamento Gedeón y compartió cómo Russell amaba leerlo. Luego mostró la pasta interior, donde Russell había escrito, “Amo a Dios,” y firmó su nombre en la página de la decisión para aceptar a Jesucristo como su Salvador.

Gracias a Dios que llevó esta copia de Su Palabra a manos de un joven. Aún que su vida fue corta, su testimonio vive.


Edward Van Valkinburg March 3, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Our children, the future of the free world. We must make every effort to give them the opportunity to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. School distributions at every chance. To God goes the glory!



Arnold Rollins March 3, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Thanks for the testimony about Russell. It will add a new one for my church presentations. It is important to let the authorities know about the court order allowing the distribution of God’s Word at schools. I try to carry a copy of that order with me when I go on a distribution.


david pipkins October 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm

bro. Arnold, I’m a gideon in miss. where do you get that court order at?


Samuel G March 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Praise God for Russell, who has gone to be with Jesus. It’s a good testimony and a wonderful message in His time…


John Lane April 22, 2011 at 2:05 am

I found it interesting to read some of the comments about the confrontation outside the school. I am a member of the Joondalup camp in Perth Western Australia. Every year we have been going to the Edith Cowan University campus in Joondalup to distribute God’s word to the students at their orientation day. This year we were informed that unless we were aligned with a particular religious group we would no longer be able to distribute at the campus. We prayed long and hard about this asking for God to soften the hearts of those in charge of the ecumenical group there. God answered our prayer and we were advised that we would again be able to distribute. We were faithful to God’s leading and that day we distributed 800 scriptures. Prayer works much better than confrontation.

Yours in Christ


Tim Hammond May 6, 2011 at 1:41 am

Amen Brother John. Prayer is something we need to do before every distribution.


Prem Sarkar July 1, 2011 at 5:38 am

“At Russell’s funeral, the minister showed the Gideon Testament, and shared how Russell loved and read it. He then showed the inside back cover, where Russell had written, “I love God,” and signed his name on the decision page.”

Many of us give away the Word and never get to know if the recipient received the Lord. When we go home many will come forward and say, I remember you for you gave me the little book for which reason I am saved . Russell will acknowledge the Gideon on that day. As Gideons you will see many who have been saved! The Lord will say, “Come my faithful and humble servant you have done a good Job, here are your rewards, all these men and women received the Word from your hand during their school and college days and have been saved.”

Let’s keep up the Good work of giving away the Word.


Haitian Baptist Church of RI July 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Children and youths need to know the world of God. Only one way to know God by distributing bibles throughout the world. Though Haitian baptist Church of RI needs 5bibles for children and youths. they come to Sunday school without bibles because their parents are unemployed. But these youngsters are starved to know the world. Please, send 50 bibles to those youths. May God bless you.
Marguerite Jolicoeur


The Gideons International July 18, 2011 at 10:34 am

Thank you very much for your inquiry regarding availability of Scriptures through The Gideons International. As an association, we place or distribute Scriptures in carefully defined venues, such as hotels, schools and universities, prisons and jails, armed forces, and medical facilities. Gideons do not provide Scriptures outside of those defined areas since we otherwise may be viewed as overlapping with other ministries or in completion with Christian publishers and booksellers. We suggest that you contact one of the Bible societies as a possible source for your needs. Again, thank you so very much for your inquiry and may God bless you and your ministry.


Biabak Dieudonné July 19, 2012 at 2:48 am

Je ne sais pas quoi dire à la lecture de ce témoignage de Russel, Si les etres humains pouvaient avoir une toute petite idée du mal qu’ils font, en refusant la Parole de Dieu à eux-meme et aux autres, Hooo!!! Seigneur, s’il te plait pardonne encore, et accorde leur une graçe spéciale.


jim December 31, 2012 at 3:13 am

Russel’s salvation was clearly choreographed by his Saviour…many a time the less we insert our own professional opinions, the clearer the hand of the Holy Spirit is seen for the glory of God. Praise God for this wonderful story!!


Steven Woo February 4, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Our Nation is facing the same situation, sidewalk distribution becoming more n more difficult. I am much encourage by Russel testimony. The coming Penang Blitz early March will be a challenge for us to distribute 50K N/T.


Bill Ellis April 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm

During the Detroit, Mi blitz I have seen such a display by school officials. We complied with their requests and moved across the street. Several cars observing the move drove by and asked for a copy of the New Testament for their children. The word of God is going out and will accomplish great things.

At a local college distribution, the manager of the college came out and asked us to leave. We complied and coordinated with the main campus and the next distribution went smooth. Coordination and permission along with prayer are key elements to successful distributions. One side note: God removed the obstinate manager and provided one that is very willing to have us come…praise God! Bill


John titman March 7, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I truly hope every camp in America will soon be using the Life Book to get Gods Word into the schools legally,by students sharing their faith with their fellow students.As I am posting this comment,Gideons International has distributed well over 13,200,000 copy’s at 1/3rd the cost of PWTs. Praise God!


DrFrank Ratnakumar March 19, 2014 at 5:43 am

Russel was not defeated by death; he died to tell a story.


Jens Nielsen March 25, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Here in Greenland. We have not reached the point of distribution yet, but this Camp was first generated last year (may 2013) BUT now the Scriptuers i Danish are being printet, 250 kg soon ready to bee shiped off. We hopefully will have a Good Aim for getting into the 5 primary schools here in the Nuuk area, one of us have a work-relation to the Headmasters. Thank’s for All Your Prayers.

God Bless


Lee Henderson January 11, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Can you give us an update? Were you able to distribute the Scriptures to the primary schools in Nuuk? I (and I’m sure many, many others) prayed for your efforts in Greenland.

May the Lord multiply His work through you mightily!


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