The Gideons International partners with churches in 200 countries, territories and possessions to reach lost men, women, boys and girls with God’s Word, so that lives may be transformed by the Gospel as they receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. One of the countries where Gideons place and distribute God’s Word is Uganda.
This June, Gideons and Auxiliary hosted the 2016 Uganda International Scripture Blitz in the cities of Hoima and Masindi. Gideons from the USA and the British Isles also came to Uganda to help carry out the distributions.
“When you talk about the uttermost parts of the world, this is it,” says blitz team leader Gary Richardson of the West Wilson Camp, Tennessee. “It leaves you with a sense of how far-reaching The Gideons International is.”
Gideons in Uganda did an excellent job of planning for the blitz. Transportation, which can be a big challenge in such rural areas, was in place and Scriptures were boxed up and waiting for distribution.
Some roads the teams drove on had not seen any automobile traffic in weeks or months.
“We encountered washed out roads that were virtually impassable by any standard in the USA or Europe,” said one Gideon on the blitz. “We can literally feel the prayers from people all over the world for us. There’s no other way we could continue to move forward under these conditions.”
Worshipping With The Uttermost
The first Sunday in Uganda, one team member presented at a local church that partners with The Gideons International. In these churches, it is not uncommon to see people bringing produce such as bananas or mangos as their offering.
A collection was taken for The Gideons International and the total amount was about 40,000 shillings, which equals about $15 USD. Given that the annual wages for 60 hours of labor a week in Uganda would likely be less than $500, the collection total was an example of people giving abundantly, even in their lack.
Going In Faith
Dwight Carter, a Gideon from Tennessee, ran into some early problems securing his visa. Someone asked him, “Aren’t you worried?” “Nope,” replied Dwight. “The Lord put this team together. I just follow through with what I’m supposed to do and let the Lord take care of the rest.”
Tim Thuemling is a Gideon from the Waukesha West Camp, Wisconsin/Upper Michigan. As a partner in a manufacturing company, he shifted his focus from his busy schedule to help out in this Scripture blitz.
One of the blessings Tim experienced occurred as the Word of God was placed at a large health clinic. By the end of the placement, 21 souls had received Christ. “What a joy, as these people came in search of physical healing, and instead left the clinic with the pure spiritual healing that only Jesus Christ can provide,” says Tim.
Early in the blitz, one of the distribution teams drove their truck into a huge mud hole. If the truck got stuck, it could create a serious dilemma in reaching many of the schools scheduled to receive Scriptures. After three attempts to power the truck out of the mud, the Gideon behind the wheel of the vehicle told the other three Gideons in the vehicle their best hope was to pray. The team prayed and the driver made one more attempt. “This time, it felt as if there were people from behind pushing the vehicle out of the mud,” said one of the Gideons. “We just drove right up onto the road.”
Gideons Sow And Witness The Harvest
Schools were just starting back for the summer, and for the first few days, student attendance was very light. By the end of the week, attendance was back to normal. As Gideons made their distributions, the students bowed after receiving their Scriptures as a sign of respect.
In Masindi, Gideons arrived at a military base to distribute Scriptures at two schools inside the base. When they approached the officials, the team was turned away because they did not have all of the required authorizations. That night at the hotel, the team shared their experience with some of the other Gideons. A Gideon employed by Uganda’s Department of Defense, accompanied the team the next day as they returned to the base. As the other Gideons prayed for an open door, the Gideon was able to speak with the military officials and secured the opportunity to distribute Scriptures. Those open doors allowed about 1,600 students and faculty to receive Scriptures that day.
At a prison in Masindi, Gideons distributed over 1,300 Scriptures to inmates and were able to deliver a full presentation of the Gospel. When they offered the prisoners an invitation to receive Christ, 44 inmates came forward ready to place their faith in Jesus.
Gideons saw evidence that other Gideons had been to Uganda’s uttermost areas years ago. They met one woman who received a Scripture at a school when she was a child. It led to her receiving Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Today, she is the director of a school. They also met another woman who grew up in a Muslim home in Uganda. As a child, she received a New Testament from Gideons. After reading it, she placed her faith in Jesus, and today she is a school teacher.
Gideons Return Home Eager To Continue Sharing Christ
Blitz participant John Coldwell has operated a travel agency for the past 20 years in the British Isles. While he has made travel arrangements for many other Gideons on International Scripture Blitzes, the Scripture blitz in Uganda was his first to participate in himself.
“I was greatly impressed by the children,” says Coldwell. “They were polite, courteous, obedient, joyful, and thoroughly charming.” At each distribution, Coldwell told the children how precious they were, how much God loved them, and how much He desired they love Him back.
“The experience has made a deep impression on me. The people and children in Uganda were, almost without exception, some of the kindest and most hospitable I have ever met, making it easy to witness to them.” Coldwell, who attends a church in the village of Dinnington, says it has also reminded him that the people of his homeland are just as precious to God, though they are not as easy to witness to. “I must redouble my efforts to reach them in whatever way I can. In a sense, I have received a gift from Uganda—seeing anew God’s love for mankind through these wonderfully gentle people.”
Blitz participant Tim Thuemling is a member of Highview Evangelical Church in Wisconsin. He says this experience left him with a deeper conviction and love for the lost in his hometown. “Sometimes we can forget about the people who live close to us, but this trip reinforced to me the truth that the Gospel must be shared with everyone and that my busy schedule should not hamper that.”
While Gideons rejoice that so many in Uganda received Scriptures and made public decisions to receive Christ, they also know many more lives need to be reached with the Gospel. That thought has been weighing heavily on one of the Gideons who shared, “We would be at a school giving out Scriptures to students in fifth grade. We would see some of the younger children watching us from behind trees or through school windows, wishing they were old enough to receive a copy of God’s Word. I just wonder, will someone be able to reach them with a copy of God’s Word in the years to come?”
By the end of the blitz, 80,717 copies of God’s Word were sown in Hoima and Masindi. We praise God for the open doors and receptivity the Gideons experienced during this blitz. We pray that as men, women, boys, and girls read the Scriptures received, they will place their faith in the Lord and continue to draw closer to Him. We thank the pastors, churches, donors, and others who supported this blitz through their prayers and donations.