A Child Of God Whose Life Touched Many

by The Gideons International on May 6, 2016

On April 17th, Mary Kay Beard passed into the presence of the Lord. As a frequent speaker at events of The Gideons International, she shared the powerful testimony of how Jesus changed her life. And there’s no doubt her story will continue to inspire those who hear it.

As a notorious safecracker and bank robber, Mary was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list by the age of 27.

On September 22, 1972, the law caught up with Mary and she was arrested. While awaiting trial from her Alabama jail cell, she noticed one of the Bibles placed there by Gideons.

When Mary opened that Bible, she read the following passage:

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27

Lying restless in her bunk in the middle of the night, Mary began reviewing her life. The memories were painful.

She had left home at the age of 15 after suffering a nervous breakdown brought about by her intense hatred of her alcoholic father. A few years later, she married a man she had only known for nine days. She later discovered he was a criminal and eventually she became one, too.

Reflecting on her poor choices while behind those prison bars, the passage from Ezekiel echoed in her mind.

Desperate and broken, Mary slid down from the metal bunk and onto the cold, cement floor. Kneeling she prayed, “Lord help me. I’ve made such a mess of everything. If your promise is true, and if You love me as John 3:16 says, then take my life and make it whatever You want it to be.”

Mary later recalled what happened after that prayer. “As tears streamed unchecked down my face, a flood of joy filled my whole being. I felt light, as though I’d been loosed from a mighty anchor.”

“Since becoming a child of God, I have learned that many people out there in the free world are prisoners in way that is worse than my confinement,” Mary wrote from her prison cell in 1978. “They’re prisoners of lust and greed, of drink and drugs, of hatred and selfishness, and of a thousand other things. They are slaves of their own passions, neither happy nor free. I know because I have been one.”

Mary’s experience behind bars also helped her to understand the loneliness of those in confinement. After she was released from prison, she founded the Angel Tree ministry to help prisoners and their families draw closer together by drawing them to Jesus. For more than 25 years, she served in ministry, reaching the lost by showing God’s love.

As we praise God for Mary Kay Beard’s testimony, our thoughts and prayers are with her friends and family.


Ecuador Quake Gideon Scriptures

A young woman at an emergency shelter in Ecuador reads her copy of God’s Word, received from Gideons.

As faithful Christians, Gideons and their wives are dedicated to telling people about Jesus, no matter what the circumstances.

So when a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck Ecuador in April, The Gideons International implemented the Disaster Scripture Distribution Program. Members of The Gideons in Ecuador responded by placing copies of God’s Word into the hands of those impacted by the disaster. Since the earthquake, Gideons and Auxiliary have distributed over 19,000 Scriptures in Portoviejo, Manta, Bahia, and Chone.

Vanessa, one of the earthquake survivors who has decided to follow Jesus after receiving a Scripture from The Gideons

Vanessa, one of the earthquake survivors who has decided to follow Jesus after receiving a Scripture from The Gideons

Vanessa was one of the earthquake survivors to receive a New Testament from Gideons. She and her husband escaped piling rubble from their building’s collapse through the doors of a meat packing shop on the ground floor. Those doors are always padlocked but at the time of the quake, the locks were not in place. Vanessa acknowledges only God could have known the people living in her building needed those doors unlocked to escape. With God’s Word now in her possession, she has decided to follow Him in her everyday life, and thanks God for His protection. Please keep Vanessa and her husband in your prayers as they are among the many who lost their homes to the quake.

Ecuador earthquake April 2016

A young man finds rest at an Ecuador emergency shelter as he reads a New Testament received from The Gideons.

We thank the Lord for our members in Ecuador and for their faithful service in reaching out to share the love of Jesus in the midst of these devastating events. We thank all our supporters whose donations provide for Scriptures to help the lost and hurting find the everlasting hope that comes only from a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Please keep praying for the families of those who died in the earthquake, as well as for all who have lost homes and other personal property.

If you would like to give to The Gideons International, please click here.