The Power of Salvation

This past April, Gideons and Auxiliary in Barranquilla, Colombia, welcomed Gideons from different countries who came to strive side by side for the faith of the Gospel. Together, these teams would engage in the placement and distribution of Scriptures to win others for Jesus in the 2023 Colombia International Scripture Blitz (ISB).

The team began the one-week blitz with a goal of placing and distributing 150,000 Scriptures. Participants drew inspiration from a theme and verse selected to emphasize the evangelical intent of the blitz, “The Power of Salvation to Everyone Who Believes” (Romans 1:16 ESV). By the end of the week, blitz teams saw the Lord bless their efforts over and over again.

Barranquilla is one of the three cities in Colombia referred to as the “pearls of the Caribbean.” Of those three metropolitan areas, Barranquilla is the largest, comprised of more than 1.2 million people. Local Gideons believe the actual population is pushing closer to 2 million, as many people are fleeing Venezuela and relocating to Barranquilla and surrounding areas.

The area includes several religious influences. However, Protestant and evangelical churches have a strong presence and appear to be growing. Access to schools, universities, and police, as well as prisons, is readily available for Scripture distribution.

Make Certain They Know the Most Important Thing

The strategy for the week focused on schools and universities, as these venues would allow the nine different teams to reach as many people as possible. Each team was led by an international team member and supported by local Gideons and Auxiliary. Nearly 80 members of The Gideons International participated in the effort to impact more than 150,000 people for Christ. Colombia Gideons believed there was a possibility of placing and distributing 220,000 Scriptures.

The international team met every morning for prayer before they headed out with the Gospel, praying God would open doors for them to share His Word, and would prepare hearts in advance to receive Christ. Blitz leaders challenged the team members to share the Gospel with students whenever an opportunity unfolded.

The influence of Catholicism was evident, as many schools Gideons visited featured a statue or mural of Mary. Gideons were granted open access to the students—either by going classroom to classroom or sometimes through presentations to large assemblies of students. Response to the Gospel was tremendous.

“As we went ‘not ashamed of the Gospel,’ we saw that it truly is ‘salvation to everyone who believes,’” says Dan, who served as a team leader for the blitz. “Student after student indicated they prayed to receive Jesus for the first time, and that they meant this in their heart, by signing the back of the Testament.”

In one of the classrooms, the older students started asking questions of one Gideon—questions about his job, his family, and his hobbies. They were also eager to have their picture taken with him. But while reviewing those photos later, the Lord revealed something to the Gideon.

“It was as if God spoke to me...‘That was fun, wasn’t it? Talking with the students, sharing about your job, your family, your hobbies.’”

“‘Yes, Lord, it was a lot of fun!’, I responded. And then, that still, small voice, “Is that why I brought you to Colombia? To talk to the students about you?’”

The Gideon was immediately humbled. The Lord reminded him that he was brought there to make certain people knew about Jesus.

The very next day, the Gideon and his team visited a school where the principal asked three of the young men to help the Gideons carry the boxes of Scriptures around the school. As the distribution concluded, one of the young men began speaking to the Gideon through the interpreter, Nori.

The student’s name was Jordan; he was 16 years old and was on track to graduate at the end of the calendar year with hopes of becoming a police officer. Like the other students, Jordan asked the Gideon about his job, family, and hobbies.

“When the team signaled it was time to go, we said goodbye and I turned to head toward the exit of the school, with Nori walking beside me,” he said.

Then the Gideon heard that still, small voice again, asking, “Did you make certain he knows the most important thing? Did you make sure he knows Jesus?”

“I took another step, thinking the opportunity to speak to Jordan was done, embarrassed that I had again fallen into the trap of talking more about me than about Jesus. It was like the Lord tapped me on the shoulder. ‘Are you going to ask him about Me?’”

The Gideon turned around. “Jordan, Jordan!” he shouted. Realizing he couldn’t communicate with the young man without the interpreter, who had continued walking, he also shouted to Nori. When Jordan and Nori caught back up with the Gideon, he said to Jordan, “I’m sorry to call you back. I have to ask you the most important thing. Have you ever prayed to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord?”

Nori interpreted, and Jordan became quiet and thoughtful. He quietly told Nori, “I prayed to receive Him today. I felt Him touch my heart.”

“In all, our teams would have seen hundreds if not thousands of professions of faith.” –Barry

“Praise God!” said the Gideon. “I don’t know what plans God has for Jordan in the future. I pray God will use these moments to draw Jordan to the Lord, that He will provide the right spiritual leadership for him, and that Jordan will read his Bible regularly.” Another Gideon named Barry from Australia was one of the blitz participants. Inspired by how he saw the Lord at work throughout the week, he said, “I have returned home from Colombia where hundreds of students prayed to receive Christ. In all, our teams saw hundreds if not thousands of professions of faith.” His prayer is for those new believers to keep praying and reading God’s Word daily.

A Much-Needed Pause from the Noise

At one school with an estimated 3,000 students, Gideons arrived shortly before the student body was dismissed for the day. From the sidewalks, the team quickly distributed Scriptures to the waves of students exiting the school. The Scripture boxes were soon empty, yet students were still leaving the school. Disappointed they couldn’t give all the students a copy of God’s Word, the Gideons picked up the Scripture boxes and departed. They went to a nearby market area to sit in the shade and cool off with beverages as they waited for another team to return from a different school distribution.

They observed a group of students from the school gathering at table in front of an adjoining store. They hoped to see the students reading newly received Testaments, but instead the students were all gazing into their phones.

“God continued to put these students on my heart,” said one of the Gideons. “Did they receive a Testament, or were they so consumed by their cell phones that they weren’t going to pay any attention to the Testaments?” So, he asked Nori, “I wonder if those students received a Testament when they exited school?”

“That’s a great question!” she replied. “Let’s find out.” Nori stood and approached the students, asking in Spanish if any had received a Testament. It turned out, none of them had received a Scripture.

International Blitz Team Leader Julio then remembered there was an extra 150 or so Testaments from the school they had visited previously. He and his wife, Nessy, retrieved them and the team was able to present each of the students with a copy of God’s Word, while also sharing the Gospel.

“It was as if the Holy Spirit dampened every background noise all at once. Everyone was listening as we read the Word of God!”

The market area was very busy, with music playing, cars passing by on the road, and several people talking and laughing. However, as a Gideon began to read aloud to the students from the Scriptures in the back of the Testament, a very strange thing occurred. “It was as if the Holy Spirit dampened every background noise all at once,” he says. “The music on the radio went very quiet, the traffic noise stopped, and all the chatter and talk of the adults came to a stop. Everyone was listening as we read the Word of God! It was uncanny and unlike anything I have ever experienced!”

When it came time to make a decision for Christ, Nessy led any who wanted to pray to receive Christ. Following the prayer, many of the students signed the back of their Testament. “And, just as Nessy finished…it was like the Holy Spirit pressed the volume up button…and all the street noise returned,” said the Gideon.

Bob is a Gideon from Indiana who served in the blitz. His team had the opportunity to go to the police academy and offer Scriptures to the academy’s recruits. His team was invited to return again the next day. Bob’s understanding was that the team would be distributing Scriptures to the female police recruits. But when they arrived, instead they were led to the jail. As a guard called out names of prisoners, an inmate’s hand would reach through the cell block gate. At that point, Bob and his team would share hope with the prisoner, placing a Testament into his hand.

By the week’s end, God had opened doors for Gideons and Auxiliary to place and distribute nearly 206,000 Scriptures.

We thank God for the Gideons and Auxiliary who participated in the 2023 Colombia Blitz and for all who supported their efforts through prayer and giving. And we praise Him for all He will accomplish in the hearts of those whose lives have been eternally touched by His Word during this blitz. Please pray that the power of God unto salvation continues to spread throughout Colombia.

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