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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hotel/Motel (09/12/05)

TITLE: The Bible in the Drawer
By Brad Paulson


When John Nicholson was twelve years old, he promised his dying mother that he would read his Bible daily and, before retiring each night, would spend time in devotion and prayer. John kept his promise throughout his life and as job opportunities and obligations often took him away from home, he always had Godís word with him. The bars around the hotels where he stayed were filled with men who had left their convictions at home and were drowning themselves in every temptation available.

On a blustery fall evening in 1898, John Nicholson arrived at the front desk of the Central Hotel in Boscobe, Wisconsin. Tired from traveling and working he was looking forward to a peaceful nightís rest. He was a little put out when the hotel manager explained that there was a lumbermanís convention going on, that the hotel was full, but that an option might be to share a double room with another gentleman. The thought of trying to find another place to stay seemed more troubling than spending the night with a stranger, so John agreed. He headed up to his room. The noise from the adjacent bar was offensive to him, but in a way, he hoped that his roommate was down there, and perhaps John could fall asleep before his return.

Pushing open the door to room 19, John entered and noticed a man sitting at the table doing some paperwork. After a brief introduction and a few moments of unpacking, John got out his Bible and began his evening devotions. He was pleased when Samuel Hill, his new roommate, informed him that he was a Christian. That evening the two men shared devotional time together and while they prayed before God an inspiration came to them. A discussion followed regarding the possibility of forming some kind of a traveling manís Christian organization. They parted company the following morning, but promised each other they would meet again.

In May, John and Samuelís paths crossed again. Both of them had felt a conviction to pursue the idea for a men's organization. This time they set a time and place to meet again and on July 1st in Janesville, Wisconsin, the first official meeting took place. They were joined by a third man, William Knights, which gave them enough people to have a President, Secretary and Treasurer. Their organization was born. They decided their mission was to band Christian travelers together for mutual recognition, personal evangelism and united service to the Lord. The next step was to come up with a name. After a special time in prayer asking God to lead them to the proper name, William got to his feet and said, ďWe shall be called Gideons.Ē He then read the sixth and seventh chapters of Judges. Gideon was willing to do whatever God set before him. Faith, humility and obedience were all elements of his character that this new association wanted to reflect.

Although the beginnings of the Gideon Society were humble, by Godís grace the association has grown into the organization we all know today. I donít think I have ever been in a motel room that did not contain a Gideonís Bible in the drawer. What started as two men sharing their faith with each other, has turned into an organization that currently distributes more than 56 million Bibles a year. If either John Nicholson or Samuel Hill had chosen to keep their faith to themselves, none of this would have happened. Our faith is something we should share whenever we can. Sometimes people might dismiss us as a little strange or old fashioned, but thereís always the possibility that we might end up changing the world.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 09/21/05
Thank you for this very informative article!
Debra Brand09/21/05
Thanks for the background on the Gideons. I would tighten up the long sentences and try to eliminate so many 'ands'. Good work!
Phyllis Inniss09/26/05
Glad that I read this, as I didn't know the history of the Gideon's Bibles being left in hotel rooms. Very interestingly told and informative.