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Norman's Ministry with The Gideons International Outreach

Picture of Norman

I was invited to join The Gideons International in April of this year. After a formal interview with two longstanding members and on completion of a membership application form, my case was put before the Membership Committee at the UK Head Office in Lutterworth, Leicestershire. I was accepted into The Gideons.

The movement began on 1 July 1899 at the YMCA, Janesville, Wisconsin USA. The year before two men who were both Christians were booked into a hotel separately, met up and had their evening devotions together. The Gideon Bible ministry came about 1903 when a Chicago Gideon visited Britain. His noticed that Bibles had been placed in the rooms of British hotels by the Commercial Travellersí Christian Association. The decision toplace Bibles in every hotel room in the USA was taken in 1908. Gideon work in Britain began in 1949.

I arranged a visit to Basildon Lower Academy, Timberlog Close, Basildon on Tuesday 10 July 2012. It was previously known as Barstable School. We the Gideons were given a warm welcome. Formalities completed at Reception and Visitors Passes collected we were shown in and met by Head of Orange and taken to the auditorium. This was a new hall with posh tiered seating. There was a screen with projection and a laptop available for use. A table was set up on the stage on which we put up a Display of Gideon Bibles and NTs. There were two round tables set up just by the entrance/exit doors on which we placed some 240 Gideon Youth New Testaments and Psalms. The Year 7 students all filed in behind their teachers and took their seats. We were introduced and three of us made visual and PowerPoint presentations. The students were very well behaved and did answer questions when asked. When asked if anyone knew what a PROPHET was, one young boy put his hand up and said it was about making money, PROFIT. This brought a laugh.

Picture of Norman

The presentation completed we were thanked and applauded for the session. The students now filed out and Gideon Youth NTs were given to those who expressed a desire to have one. We handed out 166 left a further 10 with Head of the Year. We also distributed another 12 NTs to the teaching staff that were also present.

I have already been in touch with regard to a presentation in September or October to the new intake of Year 7 students.

On Wednesday 11th JulyI was at Tilbury Docks at 8.25 a.m. Paul Cave of The Lighthouse Seafarers Mission met me. He is one of three chaplains of the Christian faith working at the Port. Introductions completed and donning a hard hat and an orange coloured high visibility safety jacket we proceeded to Security where I was issued with a Pass. We then prayed together in his Ford Galaxy and drove to where our first vessel to visit, Emily Borchard, a container ship berthed alongside a pier and boarded her by way of the gangway. This is a ship that calls at Tilbury quite regularly and once we had signed the Visitors Book we were taken to the Chief Officer and I was introduced to him. We then met three crew members who were all Indonesians and in all probability Muslim and they each gratefully received an NT from me. We then met the Captain who was known to Paul. Captain along with the Chief Officer spoke Russian. Both accepted copies of the Gideons NT from me. Before I go any further I would like to point out that I served in the Navy(Defence) for almost eleven years from the early 1960s. Our next stop was the office of the Harbour Master and we spoke to him. I was pleased to hear that that he still had his Gideons Youth NT handed to him at school about twenty five years or so earlier. We then proceeded to another vessel, Misana from Finland where I handed an NT to one of the crew. Our next vessel was MV Catch 22 that was berthed at another pier next to a huge mound of scrap metal. Two huge cranes with massive grappling claws were loading up the holds of this ship with the metal bound for Egypt. As a safety measure one crane had to stop operating before we went aboard. The gangway to the ship from the pier was rather unsteady and probably not for the faint hearted to use. The Captain on this ship also spoke Russian. The Chief Officer and most of the crew were Philipino and in all probability Roman Catholic. They were happy to receive copies of the NT. We then left intending to return later as some crew members had gone ashore. From there we proceeded to Tilbury Power Station where the MV Marc C was tied up alongside the pier. She had a predominantly Philipino crew and I was able to hand out several NTs. We then went back to the MV Catch 22 as intended and had a spot of lunch with some of the crew and left shortly after. I then left, homeward bound. In all 13 NTs were handed out. The Lord willing, I have every intention of going back to Tilbury on a fairly regular basis. As mentioned earlier having been in the Navy I can relate to seafarers and feel called of the The Lord to work with them.

Picture of NormanPicture of Norman

With the Summer Olympics 2012 being held at present here in Britain I was involved with other Gideon members in a 'London Personal Witnessing Bible Blitz'. On Monday 30 July I walked down Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly, Coventry Street, Haymarket, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square, Strand, Covent Garden, Leicester Square,Charing Cross Road and back to Oxford Street speaking and personally witnessing to people and offering them New Testaments.Whilst distributing NTs at Trafalgar Square we came across a pastor from Chile who was very happy to meet us and talk. He broke into two choruses in broken English as his main language was Spanish. We then prayed with this dear brother. I walked for some three hours plus that day and even though my feet ached, it was worth it all. It gave me such joy to be involved in the work of the Lord.

Every blessing.

Norman Freeman

4 August 2012

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