Earlier this week, UK-based Hotel Indigo announced that it is placing Kindle e-readers pre-loaded with a free copy of the Bible inside its rooms at a new location in Newcastle, England. According to the official Hotel Indigo press release, the move is inspired by Newcastle’s literary history.
This week, many have asked how this move at Hotel Indigo’s Newcastle location impacts The Gideons International.
Sharing God’s Word In The Digital Age
“The Gideons International appreciates that we live in a digital age and that more and more people are accessing information online,” says Craig Warner, Executive Director of The Gideons International. “In fact, 1 in 6 adults in the U.S. use an e-reader, according to a July 2011 survey by Harris Poll. And 24% of those who use e-readers said they use them to read what they classified as ‘religious’ books.”
We rejoice in the hotel’s decision to make God’s Word available free to guests at their Newcastle location. Similarly, Bibles placed in hotels by Gideons are made available at no charge to guests and at no charge to the hotels where we are permitted to place them. That is thanks to the generosity and prayers of our supporters, and of course, the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
But whether it’s e-readers or a printed Bible, anything that puts God’s Word into people’s hands is a good thing. As we’re told in Isaiah 55:11, God’s Word will not return void.
Many In The World Cannot Afford A Bible, Let Alone An E-Reader
With more than 294 thousand Gideons and Auxiliary members, The Gideons International places God’s Word in over 190 countries. How people access reading material is very different in many of those countries than in the U.S.
“We distribute Scriptures in schools in Africa where even the school itself cannot afford to purchase a single textbook,” says Warner. “When we arrive at those schools with a copy of God’s Word for every single teacher and student that wants one, we see teachers and kids alike rejoicing, even to the point of tears, because now, they actually not only have a physical book but they also a copy of God’s Word.”
We believe there is a need for the printed Word of God. Not every hotel can justify the cost of placing Kindles in the rooms. They can get copies of God’s Word from us at no charge, and if they wish, Gideons will even take care of placing them in the nightstands. If the guests take our Bibles with them when they leave, we have replacements for the hotel, again, at no charge to them. Also, we replace the Bibles when they become visibly worn with fresh, new copies. This helps the hotel maintain a fresh, clean appearance for its guests. We then refurbish the worn copies and place them in prisons, where they will continue to have an impact in reaching people with the good news of Jesus Christ.
An e-reader copy of the Bible would likely appeal to a hotel guest who is intentionally seeking to read a copy of God’s Word. But we have many, many testimonies of people who had little or no awareness of God’s Word, who by coming into contact with it through a copy placed through The Gideons International, came to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. And the result for each person who came to that saving faith was a dramatic transformation of their life and of course, their eternal destiny. In fact, we have received testimonies of people who checked into a hotel to commit suicide only to be confronted with God’s Word instead, and radically changing their lives.
The Need For Sharing God’s Word Is Global
Last year we distributed over 84 million printed copies of God’s Word, and every single one of those Scriptures was made available at no cost to the recipients.
We realize there are mobile apps featuring God’s Word online. But we still know that God is using printed copies of His Word to reach the lost. In fact, we see that through the testimonies that continue to pour into our headquarters.
We will continue to distribute copies of God’s Word in the printed form as that need remains great. In fact, our goal is to be distributing 120 million Scriptures annually by 2020, and we are on target to reach that goal.
Last year we placed more than 1.9 million Scriptures in hotels.
With an estimated more than 4 billion unsaved people in the world, the need for sharing God’s Word is greater than ever. Our mission today is the same it was when we were founded over 100 years ago. That mission is to share God’s Word so that men, women, boys and girls can come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
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