New Biography Details The Soul-Winning Impact Of The Gideons International

by The Gideons International on March 4, 2011

Sons From Afar is the inspiring biography of Joseph Aaron Lessin, the son of a first-generation Russian Jewish immigrant.

Growing up on the poor, lower east side of New York City, Joseph believes in God, but only knows God through the lens of his Jewish heritage.

In conversations with his father and his uncle, Joseph becomes aware of God’s penalty for sin. He comes to recognize his sin debt and a need for something or someone to cover that debt.

He grows up and marries. After suffering a heart attack at the age of 30, Joseph moves his wife and two young sons to California. He starts to overmedicate on the drugs for his heart problems and also begins to emotionally abuse his family.

With his life spiraling out of control, Joseph finds himself at a Las Vegas casino hotel with his friend, Sam.

While standing at a dice table, Joseph hears a mysterious voice clearly say, “Joseph, get away from the table now.”

He returns to his room and finds a Gideon Bible in the desk drawer and begins to read it:

“A Bible!” he exclaimed out loud. Joe had never read a Bible¬—only the Hebrew prayer book he’d purchased years earlier in New York. An inexplicable quickening within him returned.

Propping some pillows up on the bed, Joe made himself comfortable, ready to look at his discovery. He saw that it had been placed in the hotel by the Gideons. Opening it randomly, he turned to Proverbs. . .

Joseph steals the Bible and continues reading it.

The storyline thickens after Joseph accepts Christ. As he becomes more and more devoted in his walk with Christ, his Jewish mother and father reject his proselytizing efforts and even disown him. His wife divorces him. And his two sons want nothing to do with Christianity.

Another conversion story begins to unfold when Joseph brings his youngest son, Roy, to an International Convention of The Gideons International.

During his testimony at the convention, Joseph requests prayer for his son who has yet to accept Christ. The prayers of the Auxiliary then were set in motion for Roy.

Sons From Afar combines themes of mankind’s yearning to know God along with man’s need for a Savior.

It is in fact, Roy Lessin, who commissioned the writing of Sons From Afar. In a recent interview, Roy shared that it was those prayers of the Auxiliary from that International Convention of the Gideons that really began to have an impact on him and prepare his heart for God’s work.

After he came to Christ, Roy went to Bible college and eventually went into evangelism. It was during this period that he received a letter from a woman. In the letter, the woman asked if he was the same Roy Lessin that God had burdened her to pray for at a Gideon convention.

The woman revealed that immediately following that convention, she went through a tremendous time of intercessory prayer for Roy, and in response, was attacked by Satan, to the point that she became physically paralyzed.

Roy still has that letter from the Auxiliary prayer warrior.

“That’s one of my treasures,” he says.

As for his father’s coming to know Christ through a Gideon Bible, Roy says, “He was just amazed to discover ‘the Book.’ He didn’t know where else he could find one. He had no idea that you could get one at a library or buy one at a bookstore. He had become so taken by what he was reading, that he didn’t want to quit, and he didn’t know if he left it there if he’d ever see one again. That was his motivation for stealing it.”

Roy Lessin (left) and his late brother Don.

After becoming a Christian himself, Roy and his father grew close, and Joseph actually became Roy’s Christian mentor. Roy, his father and his brother would all eventually go into ministry.

Given how the Gideons have touched the lives of Roy, his late father and the many, many people to whom they have both ministered, Roy offers some words of encouragement to Gideons:

“There’s nothing more powerful than the Word of God. There couldn’t be any more significant way for using your life for than bringing the Word of God into people’s lives.

“In a way the Gideon ministry is a hidden ministry-like the person who put the Bible in the Las Vegas hotel room, did he go home that day feeling discouraged? I’m sure there were times when that person felt like, ‘I’ve been doing this for so many years and I don’t know if I’m doing any good or not.

“But that person was faithful to see that a Bible got into that hotel room in Las Vegas. I just don’t know if that person ever found out how that Bible was used.”

We’re thankful that God has used The Gideons International to touch the Lessin family. And we’re thankful that they have gone on to spread the Gospel through their personal ministries.

Sons From Afar is available from Dayspring, the company founded by Roy Lessin. For more information, click here.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Porter March 5, 2011 at 12:12 pm

A beautiful testimony of the power of God’s Word to be its own silent witness. Thank you from a Gideon of 27 years.


David Tiffany March 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Let’s remember to extend the thought beyond the Gideon, “…that was faithful to see that a Bible got into that hotel room in Las Vegas. I just don’t know if that person ever found out how that Bible was used…”, to the person who purchased that very Bible. At some point, perhaps while hearing about the ministry during a presentation at their local church, considered providing support for The Gideons International. In that moment, a potential partner was moved to action and reached for their checkbook or wallet, despite the realization they would likely never know the full impact of their gift for the Kingdom of God, not at least while still on this Earth. May God richly bless them!


Sarah R March 8, 2011 at 1:32 am

What an amazing and powerful story! We remember Roy telling us this story when were in a Bible study with him in Arkansas. The gospel story never gets old, though. Thanks for sharing this.


Elizabeth Kay March 8, 2011 at 4:43 am

From a past Auxilliary Member of Gideons, what a joy to read Roy’s story and hear him tell how the prayers of Auxilliary Members are answered. Thank you for the faithful work of The Gideons International, especially in today’s world when the resistance against the Gospel is so evident.


allison olivier March 8, 2011 at 4:56 am

My first Bible I received…was at my one classroom school house, at the age of eight, shortly after immigrating from Holland to Canada. I loved that little red Bible so much, that I carried it with me wherever I went. I accepted Christ as my Savior some years after. I’m not sure what happened to my precious little Gideon Bible, but now I have a large one. I live for my Lord everyday. I thank Him everyday for dying for me on Calvary’s cross and washing away all my sins with His precious blood. Everyday I write Scripture verses on FB. That’s my way of witnessing for Christ!


Luis Gustavo March 8, 2011 at 6:20 am

“Sons From Afar” (Los Hijos De Lejos) es la inspiradora biografía de Joseph Aaron Lessin, hijo de la primera generación de un inmigrante judío ruso.

Creció en la zona mas pobre en el lado este de la ciudad de Nueva York, Joseph creía en Dios, pero sólo conocía de Dios a través de la lente de su herencia judía.

En conversaciones con su padre y su tío, Joseph tuvo conocimiento de la pena de Dios por el pecado. Llegó a reconocer su deuda por el pecado y una necesidad de algo o alguien para cubrir esa deuda.

Creció y se casó. Después de sufrir un ataque cardíaco a la edad de 30, Joseph se mudó con su esposa y dos hijos pequeños a California. Comenzó a sobre medicarse con las drogas para sus problemas de corazón y también comenzó a abusar emocionalmente de su familia.

Con su vida girando fuera de control, Joseph se encontraba en un hotel casino de Las Vegas con su amigo, Sam.

Al estar en una mesa de dados, Joseph escuchó una voz misteriosa decir claramente, “Joseph, aléjate de la mesa ahora.”

Regresó a su habitación y encontró una Biblia Gedeón en el cajón del escritorio y comenzó a leerla:

“!Una Biblia!” exclamó en voz alta. Joe nunca había leído un Biblia – sólo el libro de oraciones hebreas que había comprado años antes en Nueva York. Un inexplicable temblor interno le invadió.

Acomodó algunas almohadas en la cama, y Joe se puso cómodo, listo para examinar su descubrimiento. Vio que había sido colocada en el hotel por los Gedeones. Abriéndola al azar llegó al libro de Proverbios…

Joseph robó la Biblia y siguió leyéndola.

La trama se complica después de Joseph acepta a Cristo. Como se vuelve cada vez más dedicado en su andar con Cristo, su padre y su madre judíos rechazan sus esfuerzos proselitistas e incluso le repudian. Su esposa se divorcia de él. Y sus dos hijos no quieren tener nada que ver con el cristianismo.

Otra historia de conversión comienza a desarrollarse cuando Joseph lleva a su hijo menor, Roy, a una Convención Internacional de la Gedeones Internacionales.

Durante su testimonio en la Convención, Joseph pide oración por su hijo quien todavía necesita aceptar a Cristo. Entonces se pusieron en marcha Las oraciones de las Auxiliares, por Roy.

“Sons From Afar” combina temas del anhelo de la humanidad para conocer a Dios junto con la necesidad del hombre de un Salvador.

De hecho, es Roy Lessin, quien encargó la redacción de “Sons From Afar”. En una entrevista reciente, Roy comparte que fueron las oraciones de las Auxiliares de esa Convención Internacional de los Gedeones que empezaron a tener un impacto sobre él y preparar su corazón para la obra de Dios.

Después de que vino a Cristo, Roy fue a la Universidad Bíblica y finalmente entró en la evangelización. Fue durante este período que recibió una carta de una mujer. En la Carta, la mujer le preguntó si era la misma Roy Lessin por el que Dios le había puesto carga en su corazón para orar en una Convención de Gedeones.

La mujer reveló que inmediatamente después de la Convención, ella pasó por un gran tiempo de oración intercesora por Roy y en respuesta, fue atacado por Satanás, al punto que ella quedó físicamente paralizada.

Roy todavía tiene esa carta, de aquella Auxiliar guerrera de la oración.

“Es uno de mis tesoros”, dice.

En cuanto a cómo su padre llegó a conocer a Cristo a través de una Biblia Gedeón, Roy dice, “Él estaba asombraron al descubrir “El Libro”. No sabía dónde más podía encontrar uno. No tenía idea que podría obtener uno en una biblioteca o comprarlo en una librería. Había quedado tan absorto por lo que estaba leyendo, que no quería dejar de hacerlo, y si lo dejaba allí no sabía si podría conseguir otro. Esa fue su motivación para robarlo”.

Roy Lessin (izquierda) y su hermano Don.

Después de convertirse al cristianismo, Roy y su padre tuvieron una relación más estrechas Joseph actualmente se convirtió en el mentor cristiano de Roy. Roy, su padre y su hermano eventualmente todos vendrían al Ministerio.

Dado que los Gedeones habían afectado las vidas de Roy, su padre y de muchas personas a quienes han ministrado, Roy ofrece algunas palabras de aliento a los Gedeones:

“No hay nada más poderoso que la Palabra de Dios. No podía haber una manera más significativa de utilizar tu vida que llevar la Palabra de Dios a la vida de otras personas.

“De cierto modo el Ministerio Gedeón es un Ministerio silencioso, la persona que colocó la Biblia en la habitación del hotel de Las Vegas, ¿regresaría a casa ese día sintiéndose desanimado? Estoy seguro de que hubo momentos cuando esa persona se sentía como, ‘ he estado haciendo esto durante tantos años y no sé si estoy haciendo algún bien o no.

“Pero esa persona fue fiel para ver que una Biblia fuese colocada en esa habitación de ese hotel en Las Vegas. No sé si esa persona supo alguna vez cómo se utilizó esa Biblia.”

Estamos agradecidos de que Dios ha utilizado los Gedeones Internacionales para tocar a la familia Lessin. Y estamos agradecidos de que van y difunden el Evangelio a través de sus ministerios personales.


James R. Cook March 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I am sure that The Gideons International would not consider that the Bible was stolen by Roy’s father. They would be encouraged that someone was so blessed by that Bible, that they took it with them to read, study and learn more about our Lord. That is what the Gideons are all about, putting God’s word into the hands of saints and sinners alike. May thousands, and even millions more Bibles be “slen” from hotel and motel rooms around the world. I thank God for the ministry of the Gideons.

Love In Christ,
James R. Cook


jay daniel March 9, 2011 at 3:43 am

I first heard of the Gideons when I was a small boy in the Philippines, where the church I used to attend celebrated Gideons’ Sunday. Because of their faithfulness, I became a missionary here in the Middle East. You may not know the full impact of those old men in small, local churches. Thank you Gideons, for your faithfulness to your calling!


Rui Da Silva March 9, 2011 at 8:05 am

Thanking Roy, for such uplifting words of wisdom and life that have lifted me up and made a change in my life. Through our testimony and the blood of Jesus we overcome anything.


jose martin cervantes dominguez July 28, 2011 at 5:11 am

im in a church that is berly growing we´re in guadalajara mexico and not all that come have bibles we really would like to have them to grow in the word .we´re dont have much resourses could some one help us get bibles if maybe not free at least so we can afford them?


admin August 1, 2011 at 8:15 am

What city and country are you in, Jose? (¿En qué ciudad y país donde se encuentra, José?)


Eligio Acabado, (Phil.) January 7, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I thank God for all those very encouraging testimonies and comments shared in this website. Its now 2013, another challenging year for the Gideon ministry which I joined in March 1984. As this new year starts, God led me to this Gideons website and I commit to open it more often so I will be more encouraged and also share to others my testimony which will also encourage others. In my long years of membership with the Gideon ministry, there is no more challenging way to share about Jesus Christ than this one. I will be 72 y.o. soon, and I commit to continue serving our Lord during my “bonus years” He has given me. Our camp in San Pedro, Laguna, Phil. almost always distributes Bibles within our area every Thursday of the week. We always pray for open doors in schools so that whenever a principal or teacher requests us to briefly explain in 5 mins. about the Bible and its message, we have a captive audience of 40 to 70 students (+ the teacher) listening to us. Praise God for such rare opportunities! I encourage my brother Gideons and sister Auxiliaries around the world to carry on in this wonderful sowing/soul-winning ministry which is a fulfillment of our Lord’s Great Commission.


eileen nyholm March 9, 2015 at 8:36 pm

I have just finished reading “Gone the Golden Dream”, a story of the immigration of the Lessin family from near Kiev, Ukraine to America. Once again, I am thankful for the ministry of the Gideons International, of which I continue, as a widow, in the Auxiliary ministry. The encouragement from the book is to KEEP PRAYING….God uses HIS WORD in His own time and His own way.


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