Enduring and worthwhile thoughts from the 2017 Gideons National Convention
Created by Jon Taylor - Friday 19 May 2017
Jon Taylor
I arrived at the conference feeling already tired before the first meeting, although I returned greatly encouraged and refreshed. It was an especially full and excellent itinerary which was incredibly well planned and administered.
The theme of the weekend was memorably introduced by watching a clip of Jim Peters attempting to run the last lap of the marathon at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver. Though he was literally miles ahead, his only mistake was failing to pace himself in a race where the temperatures soared in unbearably inclement conditions.
It was an emotionally charged and sombre experience seeing a man who was severely dehydrated and had given his all, known by some as the greatest marathon runner ever, staggering bewildered like a drunk man in plimsoles, trying to run in a straight line and complete what would have been his victory lap. Peters was eventually stretchered off and soon announced his retirement. He was awarded an honourary medal for his courage, though never fully recovered from that race.
And so the theme of the long weekend was taken from Hebrews 12:1 and the application was purposefully obvious yet insightful and was centred on running the race of faith by running with perseverance which inevitably means pacing oneself. The keynote speaker Jeremy McQuoid explained that in our walk with the Lord there will always be a necessary tension in balancing our Christian activity and ministry with devotional time alone with God. We need to spend time in His presence and feed on God’s word before we can feed others. We also need to keep reading diligently to continue feeding others. Prayer was rightly prioritized as imperative towards our evangelistic pursuits.
Helpful applications were given in how to enable people from all cultures to receive God’s word. Since 1908 the Gideons have distributed almost 2.2 billion Bibles and New Testaments although the figure only surpassed 1 billion in 2001. However quality is every bit as important as quality and specific testaments are given out often accompanied by much prayer following serious and purposeful discussion. The ‘where to find help when’ section has proved invaluable to many people who may not have given their Bibles a second thought for too long and who often are immediately convicted and encouraged through reading it, since it explains God’s revealed truth concerning the Saviour.
The use of Bible apps on phones has increasingly proved to be incredibly useful, particularly in predominately non-literate societies. The listeners were sometimes ecstatic upon hearing God’s word and strangely excited about hearing lists of genealogies. This spoke of authority and identity and was of great interest to those inhabiting tribal backgrounds.
Lastly an excellent seminar on Biblical headship was delivered focussing on taking responsibility and making the important distinction between patriarchy for its own sake and complementarianism and being a male leader and role model that is worth submitting to.  Honouring wives was encouraged so that prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).  
All in all it was a timely and useful weekend of guidance and spiritual exhortation spurring all of us to press on but not to burn out. At the same time it provided a comprehensive overview of this valuable ministry. During the weekend I took heed of the advice given so I didn’t attend all of the many seminars on offer, but took time to enjoy exercise, reflection and time alone with God.
Friday 19 May 2017