Gideon’s Service

November 26, 2023
Speaker: Jonathan Slagenweit

Looking forward to the ministry of brother Eddie Roche. He was with us last year to share the ministry of Gideon’s International and has agreed to come back this year and, appreciate brother brother Roche. I’ve just had limited, opportunity to get to know him over the last year, year and a half, but have thoroughly appreciated, him as a person and know that he has a heart for the word of God and the spreading of the gospel.

And I’m inviting him to come and share with us this morning the ministry of Gideon’s International. Thank you so much for that great singing, and what a beautiful baby. Man, oh, man. I can remember, the time when my daughter was born. She’s now a sophomore at the University of South Carolina.

It’s hard for me to believe. She’s probably brokenhearted this morning, but that’s another story. But we’re here to talk about something more important today than any rivalry game that took place yesterday. We’re here to talk today about the word of God. So I wanna thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to come, and let’s open up in prayer this morning.

Lord, I just thank you so much for this pastor. Lord, I just pray that you’ll continue to be with pastor Jonathan and his wife, Lord, and just pray that you’ll bless them as they minister here. I thank you so much for this congregation, for this church, Lord, and for the lighthouse that it is in this community. Lord, most of all, I thank you for your word. Lord, I just pray that you will give me the words to say this morning.

And more than anything, Lord, I just pray that you will be the one that will be magnified and lifted up. For it’s your name I pray. Amen. So this morning, I have with me a pack of seeds, a pack of squash seeds, as a matter of fact. And you see it brings back fond memories for me of my father and my grandfather.

Both are deceased now, but they both love to have a garden. So they would get out every year, and I remember them tilling the ground, and you had to do it in rows. I would help them. And I remember just being a little boy and my grandfather saying you gotta do it in rows. And then they would come behind with these seeds and they would drop the seeds in the ground and they would patiently await for that seed to turn into a plant and eventually into a vegetable or into a fruit.

You see, in the parable of the sower, Jesus states in Luke chapter 8 verse 11. Parable is this. The seed is the word of God. And I can tell you this morning in the simplest terms, who are the Gideons? The Gideons are Christian business and professional men and their wives who were sowers of the word.

Our ministry is to go out and to place God’s word in as many places as we are allowed to do so that men, women, boys and girls can come to know the lord Jesus as savior. In first Peter chapter 1 verse 23, the bible says, being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. You see, every year, my father and my grandfather went through the same process. Rose. They’d drop those seeds.

But at the end of the year, all that stuff would die And they would come back again and have to start the process over and over and over again every spring. But see, God’s word is eternal, everlasting, inerrant, infallible, and perfect, lifetime of this ministry. Scriptures, 53,000,000 seeds sown worldwide by the ministry of the Gideon’s International right here in Easley, our Easley camp since June 1st has distributed 12,622 copies of God’s word in this community. We were blessed by your church and by your pastor allowing us to distribute here at your fall festival. 505 copies of God’s word went out of this church because of the work of the Gideons that are members of this church and your pastor’s graciousness to let us partner with him in distributing the word of God.

Have distributed bibles here in Easley at numerous VBS’s Vacation Bible Schools throughout the course of the summer, upper state fair, and numerous fall festivals, including, yours. And today, this afternoon, your Gideons will be out busy as we will be distributing Bibles right here in the hotels in Easley, South Carolina to ensure that there’s a copy of God’s word in as many hotel rooms as they’ll let us in. So praise God, praise God for the seed. Praise God for what he’s allowing us to do. And he And he can do miraculous things that we cannot even imagine when we’re obedient and we sow the seeds.

You see, seeds were sowed by the Gideons in a Las Vegas hotel, and God did a work. There was a man named Bud Paterson. Bud Paterson was a successful businessman. When I tell you that he created the home shopping network, there’ll probably be some people in here that would be pretty happy and probably remember seeing on TV the home shopping network and may have even ordered something off of that channel. Bud Satzman was a very successful businessman.

He seemed to have everything in control on his life. And then one Christmas morning, his wife got up and she told him, bud, I’m leaving you today for another man. Car, and drove away. Can you imagine, on a day that’s supposed to be all about joy, having to go through what Bud went through? For the first time in his life, Bud did not feel in control.

For the first time in his life, he had tragedy strike his life. A few days later, Bud was traveling to Las Vegas, of all places, for New Year’s Day. As he sat in his hotel room on New Year’s Eve, morning, he got up, and he opened the drawer in his hotel room, and there was a Gideon Place bible. Very much like this bible that we’re gonna be putting out today in the hotels here in Easley, South Carolina. Bud picked up that bible, and he just started randomly turning to the word.

And God placed him in the scripture in the book of Job. And when he read through the book of Job, he saw how that Job was rescued bible. You see in the front of these He then turned to the front of that bible. You see in the front of these Gideon Bibles are sections that say, are you alone? If you are, here’s the verse to go to.

If you’re depressed, here’s the verse to go to. If you’re addicted, here’s the verse to go to. He began to go through those helps and he found the verses that he needed. Bud put his faith in Jesus Christ that day, and he got saved. You see, right in the city that’s called Sin City, he made a savior.

God saved his life, and Bud became a Christian. Bud wanted to carry that not only into his personal life, but he wanted to carry his Christian walk into his business. So he went in and he started what’s called what was at that time called Patch TV, which is a family centered network that brought spiritual based programming that a family could sit down together and watch and learn about God. You see, God took a seed and he multiplied it. He took a heart and he changed it.

And then he took that and changed it into a network that put out spiritual programming. Another place that the seeds have been sown by the Gideons is at colleges. This past September, we were at Clemson University distributing in the places that they would allow us to distribute. And we distributed with other accounts 2,761 testaments at Clemson University. Why is that important?

Because when you place a seed on a college campus, there may be somebody like Barney Barnett there, Bonnie Barnett, that needs that copy of God’s word. You see, she grew up in New York. She was a went has part of a typical family. They went to church every Sunday. But what Bonnie remembered from her childhood was that her pastor in that church never referenced the bible and never referenced the gospel.

Consequently, before she was a teenager, she went astray. She got involved in cult worship. She began to work with tarot cards. She began to do seances and she realized that the powers of darkness were real. Denmark for a year and to be in Denmark for a year.

And 5 years, she struggled with the meaning of life. She tried to find peace in substances, drugs, alcohol. It didn’t work. She tried multiple religions. She went to mass.

She went to Jewish bible studies. She attended Jehovah Witness Groups. She even studied Harry Krishna. At 21, she quit college, and she came home. So you can imagine there was a little stress in the family coming home from college, quitting college, and coming home and telling your parents that you’re done with college.

The stress in that home led to an argument between her and her father one day. And even though her father and her had always had a great relationship, her father literally picked her up and threw her against the window in an argument. The next morning, she got up and she packed all of the belongings that she had into the back of her Dodge car and she drove away. She had nowhere to stay. She was gonna go and live in her car, find a job that she could get and start to pay rent.

She was homeless and she was hopeless. Finally, she made enough money to get a place to rent, but she was working 3 jobs, and she was living alone. Life was miserable. She began drinking heavily, and she said that she in her own words, that she had a mess of a life. And then one cold January blizzard hit bottom.

And she looked up and life was ravaged. And she felt completely deserted by everyone. She really felt she had no reason to go on living, but she bade God to show her the truth. And she remembered that when she left home, she had packed a little green testament in her trunk. And she went and got that little green testament.

Let me tell you how great god is. That little green testament was given to her brother in college 6 years prior to this day. You see, God does so many things where when we sow the seed, he puts it where it needs to be. He puts it right where it needs to be. That bible was in her trunk.

She got it out. She went into that room all alone on a cold blizzard night and she sat by the window and she opened to the book of Matthew And she began to read. And when she began to read, she couldn’t put that bible down. She read through all of the gospels that night. And she realized that she was lost.

And she realized that God loved her even while she was a sinner. And she fell to her knees, and she gave her life to Jesus. She was set free from the power of darkness. No more burden. No power of satan.

Just the power of God. 5 years after that, she finished bible college. She married a pastor, became a pastor’s wife, and they led numerous people to the Lord Jesus Christ. But it didn’t end there. She loved evangelism, and she started a full time missionary work called discover the book, which is now a worldwide ministry.

Gideon sowed. God provided the increase. And he multiplied it and multiplied it and multiplied it over and over again. But you see, the Gideons also sow oversee overseas in places like Trinidad. The Gideons are sowing seeds in 200 countries, territories, and positions in over a 100 languages around the world.

In the country of Trinidad, Bola, Ramlogan, and many were born to Hindu families. They got married and they could remember in their family as part of the Hindu culture. They would go into a room and their parents and grandparents would have the pictures of all of the gods they worshipped pasted on the walls. Numerous, numerous gods that they were worshiping, part of the Hindu religion. And that they were worshiping, a part of the Hindu religion.

Bhola and his best friend, Ramazur, were alcoholics. Bola would drink and he would drink heavily and then he would beat many. And that was accepted in the Hindu culture. Even her brothers didn’t think that was a problem, that he would drink and then beat his wife. Rameshwar, his best friend, became very ill.

He had tuberculosis. He had spots on his lungs. He was suffering from all the abuse of alcohol from all the years that he had abused alcohol, and he was in a hospital and wasn’t expected to live. As he laid in that hospital bed, he looked out the hospital window and he could see a group of people in the hallway that were He had no idea what they were praying about, whether they were praying for him or someone else. But what he did see in their faces was the peace that they had.

And he looked through that window and he said, that’s something I want. Travel around other areas around that country in Trinidad. And then he even went to India and met his wife in India. But as he went to those places, he couldn’t get his best friend, Bola, back in Trinidad off of his mind. So he took a Gideon Place testament that he had been given and went back to Trinidad.

And he knew exactly where to find BOLA. He went to the local bar. To a death testiment And in the local bar, at the bar, sat Bola, drinking as he normally was. He took that testament, and he told his friend who couldn’t read very well, I want you to start with the book of John. And he helped him read some and then he left him with that testament.

And Bola continued to read the book of John about Jesus. And later, both Bola and his wife, Minnie, accepted Jesus. But it doesn’t end there. You see, Minnie was pregnant at the time that they accepted Jesus with their son, Peter. The extended family was so angry at them for turning to Christianity that they were even plotting to kill Ebola at one point.

Cebolla and Minnie and their 8 children moved to a new village there in Trinidad called Los Lamos. Began to talk about the word of the God. And over And they get began to talk about the word of the God. And over the years, every household on that road entering that vintage village were all hendos converted to the Lord Jesus Christ. They began to have bible studies in homes.

People would sit on the floors. They had all night prayer meetings. Someone gave up land. And they built a church that just had lob post and a roof on it, but it was somewhere that they could worship God. And then guess what?

God took that seed and he said, okay. Let’s not keep it here in this village. Let’s go to the next village. So they began to go to these other villages telling people about Jesus and Hindus all the way from Hindu priest to gunman gave their heart and life in those surrounding villages to Jesus Christ. But the story doesn’t end there.

You see, young Peter wanted to be a pastor. Young Peter wanted to come to the US. So young Peter came to the United States of America. And he got he wanted to go to bible college, but he didn’t have any money. So he prayed about it.

And someone during a bible study came up to him and said, I’m from Holmes Bible College. We have what’s called Scholarships of Faith where someone gives money to sponsor a student. We’d love for you to come to school here. So he went to Holmes Bible College and he became a pastor. And he’s a pastor at Grace Way Church, 2 minutes from your church.

From Trinidad, 2 minutes from your church. He’s here. I got the privilege of hearing him give this testimony first hand in our monthly meeting back in October. What a wonderful man. And not only that, but let me tell you how this comes full circle.

Pastor Ram Logan, Peter Ram Logan led a young man who, used alcohol. His name was Tyler Messer. He led him to the Lord Jesus Christ. Guess where Tyler Messer’s at now? He’s a Gideon.

He’s a Gideon, faithful in our camp, serving God, distributing scriptures. One testament, carried back, changed a village, changed another village, brought a man here to be a pastor 2 minutes from your church at Graceway Church, and he led a man to Jesus, who’s now distributing more copies, more seed, sowing more seed of God’s word. God is so amazing, so powerful. But see, we just owe that seed even in prison. There was a dark prison cell, and there was a man named Sammy Contreras there.

And Sammy Contreras was a very mean man. He was a as a teenager arrested for distributing drugs, and he even one time set a person on fire because he didn’t like him. The Gideons went into that jail cell into those jail that day and they gave out testaments. Scriptures and we’re gonna tear the pages out. Stack.

And they were gonna play cards. Is they’d shuffle the deck and you’d pick out a page. And you’ve if you had a match, if your page matched another page, and it comes from one of those bubbles, then you won the game. That sounds horrible. But let me tell you something.

In order to know if they had a match, guess what they had to do? They had to read it. Sammy Contreras got the page that said, John 316. And he looked at that. Sammy had never felt love in his life.

But when he read that verse, he realized that whosoever was Sammy. And Sammy got saved and he went from being a prisoner to being a pastor. Again, Gideon’s planted a seed and God multiplied it over and over and over. But Gideon’s also sowed seeds at a hospital. And that’s important because there was a young lady named Kari Pankonan in Minnesota.

Kari Pankonan was 13 years old. She was your normal junior high girl. She was very insecure, wanted to be light. She had perfect parents, and they had the perfect marriage. But something happened and the marriage began to fall apart.

The home became completely unbearable. The parents, the father, talked about committing suicide, was put in a hospital for a short time. He then came back and he ended up dating, of all people, a high school girl who was a friend of Kari’s and also went to church with Kari. Hated her parents. Couldn’t even go back there.

She began to do things that she shouldn’t do, drinking and partying and turning to alcohol and hanging out with boys that she knew she shouldn’t be hanging out with. And all she could see, she was so depressed that she began to fantasize about death. She even planned her funeral. She wrote poems about death and felt that her only choice was suicide. She had it all laid out to the hymns that would be sung, to who would be there, and what would happen in that service.

She thought in her mind, how could God allow this to happen to a good church going girl? She felt completely alone. She found some old razor blades in the house and she began to practice with small cuts on her wrist, planning for the big one that would end up causing her to bleed out and to take her life. She’d all often even said, look, In her mind, she had a diary and she would write these things down. And she planned to do this suicide on Good Friday.

She said, for dramatic measure and effect, I’m gonna do it on Good Friday. Well, one of her teachers and one of her friend’s parents had noticed the cuts on her wrist even though she always wore long sleeves. So they call it her mom. And when she was in the 8th grade, her mom and grandmother were waiting for her as she come off the school bus. They took her to a psychiatric unit.

She was placed in a room with bars, a locked door, and a locked hospital. She had no mirror in the room because they couldn’t put it there, afraid she’d break it and take the glass and kill herself. It was the most miserable time of her life. She was led to go to individual and group therapy and forced to go. And she found out, look, if I go to these therapies and to go.

And she found out, look, if I go to these therapies and I just tell them that I’m getting better and I tell them I’m feeling better and I’m not harming myself anymore, then they will give me some privileges maybe. So that’s what she started doing. She just lied. She told them she was good. She wasn’t gonna harm herself anymore.

So they started to ease up and they took her out of the lot room and they put her in a regular hospital room. And then she got the news that she was being released to go home. So the night before she was gonna go home, she sat alone in her room with the book that she had been writing all these things about her suicide that she was planning. And she took that book and was writing in it. And then she got tired and she closed it up and she set it down.

Suddenly, she took a break and she felt this overpowering, unexplainable urge to go to the nightstand drawer. And when she did, in that nightstand drawer, And when she did, in that nightstand drawer, was this. My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? Thou forsaken me? Wow.

They’re so far from helping me and from the words of my roaring. She knew that someone else felt her pain. Someone else could understand what she was going through. She continued to read over to Psalms 27. The Lord is my light, my salvation.

Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of whom shall I be afraid? And then she got to verse 10. When my father and my mother for Satan, When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. And that first changed her life.

She, in her own words, she gave this testimony at the International Convention in July. In her own words, she said, you had no idea what that verse did for me. Said, God was the only one who could love me unconditionally, but also knew my pain. She didn’t have a relationship much with her parents, even after getting saved. But she married a Christian husband, and they were extremely faithful in their local church.

She and they were extremely faithful in their local church. She also had 2 sons and a daughter-in-law who loved the Lord and they were faithful in their church. She said, in her words, that bible in that room in my relationship with Jesus Christ was literally the difference between life and death. Let me tell you. The census from 2020, which is the most recent figures that we have, say there are a 131,400 people in Pickens County.

That same census says that barely 50% of them are Christian. That means around this church and in Pickens County, there are 65,000 lost people. The Gideons have to have a greater urgency than ever before to sow this seed. How can you help us? First thing is pray.

We always covet your prayers. Please pray for this ministry. Pray that God will open doors that are closed. There’s countries we can’t go into. There’s places in the United States of America that we can’t give out of bible.

Pray that God will open those doors. You can give. This morning, you’re gonna take up an offering. You know, we wouldn’t ask you to do anything that we don’t do. Last year, our Gideons gave over $16,000 of their own funds to buy scriptures.

This morning, you have the opportunity to give. If you’re not prepared to give this morning, you can take this little tear off, and you can give by credit card or mail it in to the Gideons. So we would ask you if you please could help us support this ministry so we could buy more Bibles. You can also give through the In Memory or in honor program where you donate Bibles that are given in memory or in honor of someone. And, Ashley, you can serve.

We are so blessed by this church. This church supports the Gideons so much. And hopefully, I don’t miss anybody. But we have Paul Churchill, Bobby and Susan Hunt, Wesley Wilson, David James, and Dan Melton that are all part of the Gideon Ministry from this church. Thank you so, so much.

Pastor, I’ll turn it over to you. Thank you so much, brother Roche, for sharing with us this morning. I always love to hear those stories, not because they’re dramatic, but because they’re real. Transformed lives all because of the word of God. And you and I get to be a part of of that element this morning as we give, to Gideon’s International.

I’m gonna ask our ushers to take their places, to receive an offering. Let me encourage you to give generously this morning. I mentioned this last week, we have we have investment accounts. I would say that there are a number of you here this morning that have investment accounts, and you probably watch those investment accounts fairly regularly and, sometimes those investment accounts are pretty dismal, aren’t they? You watch the returns come back and think, oh my.

Not getting what I wanna get out of my investments. You know, this is one way that you can invest and you know that there’s gonna be a great return. You may not see it. You don’t have to, but we know that when we give for the ministry of of the kingdom of God and especially the spreading of scriptures, his word will not return void. And so this morning, can I just encourage you to give generously to Gideon’s International?

Our ushers are coming forward. Thank you again, brother Eddie, for sharing with us today. I hope your heart has been stirred as mine has been stirred and that you will give generously today. Let’s bow our heads. Father, thank you for the accounts that were shared with us this morning of people’s lives that have been transformed, even some right here in our community, pastors right down the street that are a product of the spreading of the gospel through Gideon’s International.

1, I would pray, Lord, that you would bless their ministry, that you would strengthen the Gideons that are our local Gideons right here in Easley, those that are part of our church as they give out scriptures. I would ask this morning that you would give us hearts to be generous in our giving, that the ministry of the word would go forward all throughout easily in transforming lives, we pray. We ask it in Jesus’ name, amen. Thank you so much for giving. Thank you so much, brother Eddie, for being with us today.

If you pay attention to the preaching schedule around here, it’s rare that I will give up a Sunday morning. In fact, I talked to our conference president this last week, and he said, hey. He said, I wanna come by your church. I said, that’s fine, but I’d like to have Sunday morning. You can have Sunday night, but I want Sunday morning.

But I’m willing to give it up for ministries like this because it’s exactly goes back to what brother Parker is saying. It’s the gospel that transforms. And when we give to Gideon’s International and they’re able to go out through our giving to to put scriptures into places and into hands of people. The gospel is going forward, and I believe in the ministry of what Gideon’s International is doing. And so thank you so much.

There are there are some of you that may have interest in becoming a Gideon. I would encourage you to talk to brother Eddie Roche and, he can connect you with how you can become a local Gideon here in Easley. And, I would encourage you to do that if you have interest in that way. I’m gonna invite you to stand this morning as we close in a word of prayer. The Lord bless you, as you go.

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