There were a number of Bibles that were tossed into the bins and even ripped up by my fellow class mates. But not mine...
I was born again in Grade 11 of high school and as the first Christian of my household found the initial months of my salvation very difficult. I was being educated in a state school which in many ways was a very hostile environment to the things of faith and even in my own home I was met with suspicion, misunderstanding and at times, discouragement.
I am incredibly grateful to the ministry of the Gideons, however, in their provision of free red New Testaments to every student of the two senior year levels. I distinctly remember their presentation at the school and their plea that these books that were 'red on the outside would also be read on the inside.'
There were a number of Bibles that were tossed into the bins and even ripped up by my fellow class mates. But not mine... I remember reading it on a daily basis during my lunch hour. I remember turning to the index which directed me to helpful Scriptures when I was feeling various things and facing various trials. I remember highlighting memory verses, underlining promises that the Lord was illuminating to me, and I also remember using my little red Bible to share my faith with my friends. It was my most prized possession. I carried it in my pocket along with my wallet and keys everyday. I did not go anywhere without my red New Testament Gideons Bible. In fact I still have it as a keepsake along with some other memorabilia from high school, now 17 years later.
I remember, soon after the Gideons visit, my pastor preaching one Sunday night on the Great Commission, evangelism and our charge to boldly go and share our faith. I was radically inspired by that message and began to boldly share my faith in the high school. I remember approaching the administration office to ask if there were any more Red New Testaments left over from the Gideons distribution day and, to my great excitement, the vice principal pulled out a box with about 30 red New Testaments.
I shared my faith with my fellow students at every opportunity over the following 18 months. I was highly infuential during that time and was eventually voted in as the student vice principal of the school. During those 18 months I led 23 fellow students to Christ, and I presented every one of them with one of the red Gideons Bibles that I had received from the vice principal and subsequently stored in my school locker. It was an incredible time of fruitful ministry.
I would love the Gideons to know, and especially any that might have been involved in the Caloundra High School donation of Bibles in 1996, that their finances were not wasted—but contributed towards two dozen decisions for Christ—including mine.
The year after I left, there had been so much interest in Christianity stirred within the school by myself and a few of my friends that I had led to Christ, that the school administration decided that they should employ a school chaplain. I served as the student representative on the school chaplaincy committee in my senior year. I am grateful to God for his grace and empowerment during those years, and also to the ministry of Gideons which helped to resource that wave of salvation amongst the students.