When The Gideons held their Annual Banquet in Wetaskiwin, they shared news about an exciting open door they currently have to help provide Bibles for the rapidly growing church in China. Of course, there was also the delicious dinner, greetings and words of appreciation and encouragement by elected officials from all levels of government, and music. It is also one of the opportunities for people from the different churches to come together in unity.
The special music this year was brought by Brian Dumont of Camrose. His exceptional solos were enjoyed and appreciated by all, especially the songs that told stories most appropriate to the Gideon ministry.
The guest speaker was DeWayne Fliss, the Board Chair for the Gideons International in Canada. He lives in Sherwood Park. At the time of the banquet, he had been back from a Gideon trip to China for less than two weeks, and was very excited about the present opportunity for the Gideons to help get Bibles into the hands of the rapidly growing church in China. At this time, the Chinese Government has a ministry to oversee the five religions that are legally allowed to meet: Tao, Confucian, Islam, Catholic, and Christian. The ministry requires that a group of Christians larger than 12 must have a place to meet and must have a trained pastor. The same authority decides who goes to seminary. Some pastors oversee as many as 30 churches, with elders leading the individual congregations. Only churches (pastors) are allowed to buy Bibles, and the Bibles must have been printed in China. However, Gideons partner with churches and with an organization with a good track record of working with the churches to buy and distribute Bibles. Especially in the rural areas, the people flocked to see a white, English speaking Christian. After decades of growing underground deprived of Bibles, there is a huge need for Bibles in the rapidly growing Chinese Christian church, and at this time we are privileged to be able to help fill that need.
Fliss also told of the positive outreach achieved when gospels were handed out during the World Soccer Cup in Brazil. He talked about Jesus’ compassion, the need for Christians to show that compassion and become people of influence for Jesus, and quoted Billy Graham when he said that every generation is strategic, and we need to fulfil our responsibilities to this generation.
The Gideons base their work on the recognition that the Bible is God’s Word and speaks for itself, bringing love, wisdom, guidance, and the experience of God’s transforming power.
Pictured: Gideon’s guest speaker, Chair of the Board for Gideons International in Canada DeWayne Fliss, and soloist Brian Dumont with the signature arrangement of New Testaments forming a cross. Photo by Margaret Chegwin