Ed Zacharko spoke on behalf of the Wetaskiwin Regional Public School Board for the last time as he did run not in the election held the same day. Barb Johnson, who was again a trustee by acclamation, stood with him in ongoing support of the Gideons. Photo by Margaret Chegwin.
The highlight of the Wetaskiwin Gideon Banquet this year was the information about the new and innovative ways that the Gideons are working to make Scripture more available to more people all around the world, including right here in Canada. One of these is “Hope Magazine,” a new publication of scripture which prints portions or all of 50 Psalms over or beside beautiful pictures, followed by the Gospel of John, all in a magazine format that fits right in with the other magazines in waiting rooms such as in the offices of doctors and others, in hospitals, anywhere that people have to sit and wait and are possibly stressed. The Psalm passages are chosen to emphasize that our true and greatest source of hope and strength is in God.
Another new outreach is the Gideon Bible app for iPhones and Androids. In fact, the app for Androids was released just before the Gideon Banquet in Wetaskiwin, so a number of people were downloading it as they learned about it from the speakers. The app includes information additional to the NLT text of the whole Bible. The app was released in Spanish and French in mid October, and will be released in Russian for the Olympics, in conjunction with 2,000 Russians and Canadians giving out Hope Magazines, Bibles, and app promotion cards with QR code on the streets of many many Russian cities. The offering from the Wetaskiwin Banquet is going to this Russian outreach.
Also interfacing with modern technology is the new SendMe program for youth. Once young people or youth pastors register on the website sendme.ca, they can order free Gospels of John and newlifeapp.ca promotion cards to give as tools in sharing the Gospel. A weekly blog is posted to encourage Christian young people in sharing their faith. Further social media access is available through facebook.com/sendmecanada or twitter.com/SendMeCanada. In a few short months, 11,000 Gospels of John, with their three newly designed and highly attractive covers, have already gone out to Canadian students through the SendMe program. This program to help Christian young people share their faith is one way to get Scripture to the next generation in areas where schools no longer allow the Gideons to distribute New Testaments with Psalms and Proverbs to the Grade Five students within the schools.
One of the next projects is Recovery Magazine for distribution in prisons, recovery centres and such. It will contain relevant articles and the Gospel of John.
Gideons in Canada are also involved in short mission trips to nations around the world. In Zambia, 300 Canadian Gideons with 300 national partners went onto the streets to share the Gospel and give out Scriptures. More than 75,000 people reported that they had committed their lives to Jesus Christ as a result of that contact and the Scriptures they had received. In the Philippines, teams were invited into schools where every child was given a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs and every teacher was given a complete Bible. A team has recently taken 10,000 Bibles into China, and it is expected that the Gideon Bible app will go viral when it is released in China where there are 34,000 new Christians every day. There are eight of these mission trips to different countries this year. The Scriptures given out are in the language of the people. Throughout the world, the desire for Bibles goes far beyond the numbers which are available to give out.
The Alberta Gideons President, Cam Treloar, made the point that the mission field is right here, right outside every church door. Casey Bjorndal , an enthusiastic young man who joined the Gideons' staff on January 1st, 2013, brought the information about new methods, new publications, ways of making the Word readily available and appealing to this generation around the world.
For over a hundred years, Gideons in Canada have been making Bibles and New Testaments with Psalms and Proverbs available to people wherever they are, such as in schools, hospitals, hotel rooms, and prisons. They know that God's Word is powerful, that God meant it when He said, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11NIV)