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This Day in History

World History

Wednesday, September 14, 1898. :   The Gideons Bible Association, responsible for placing Bibles in motel and hotel rooms around the world, begins.

     A chance meeting between two Christians on 14 September 1898, began an association that has endured to this very day. The Central Hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin, USA, was crowded due to a lumbermen's convention being held, and the manager asked two strangers if they would mind sharing a room. In that shared room above the saloon, travelling salesmen John H Nicholson of Janesville, Wisconsin, and Samuel E Hill of Beloit, Wisconsin, discovered that they were both Christians. The two men prayed together, and discussed starting a Christian travelling menís association.

Nothing further came of the idea until the two met up again unexpectedly the following May. They were joined by a third man, William J Knights, on 1 July 1899, and founded the Gideons Bible Association, the primary purpose of which is personal evangelisation conducted by Christian business and professional men. The name comes from the Old Testament book of Judges, and refers to Gideon, who was willing to do whatever God asked of him. Today, the association has over 140,000 members in 175 countries, and distributes over 56 million Bibles and New Testaments every year.

The Hotel Boscobel, where the men met, is considered the Birthplace of the Gideon Bible and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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