Australia

300,000 more Bibles at your bedside

World’s largest hotel chain wants more of the good book

The world’s largest hotel chain is putting Bibles in another 300,000 rooms.

Although the Bible often seems to be brushed aside as outdated or unnecessary, Marriott International is reportedly stocking its Starwood hotels with the good book, as well as copies of the Book of Mormon (the Marriott family is linked with the Mormon Church).

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“… it’s actually a great point of engagement.” – Lincoln Hawkins

Lincoln Hawkins is National Executive Director of Gideons International in Australia. Since 1908, the Gideons have been best known as the global Christian distributor that places Bibles in hotel rooms, including Marriott hotels around the world.

Hawkins believes Gideons has moved well with the times, and its updated versions of Bibles (covers, text and layout) add value to any accommodation offering.

“It helps professionalise their presentation of their rooms,” Hawkins tells Eternity of Gideons’ modern Bibles. “We underline that this is an asset, in many ways – and many people ask for [the Bible]. They feel a comfort in knowing it’s there, and because we have these new Bibles … it’s actually a great point of engagement.”

“We have our purpose – to see salvation of souls …” – Lincoln Hawkins

As Hawkins explains, Gideons has handed out more than 2.3 billion Scriptures around the world since 1908. He adds that only a few hours earlier, he heard about a done deal to place 350 Bibles in a hotel in Melbourne.

While Gideons is best known for putting Bibles in side drawers in hotel rooms, the distribution avenues it pursues are many and varied. From schools to prisons, churches, universities or approaching people on the street, the Gideons network of volunteers and supporters want to see personal engagement with God’s word.

“We have our purpose – to see salvation of souls through our personal witness in the distribution of the word [of God] – and that’s the history of the ministry,” says Hawkins. Training is provided to Gideons members in the “incidental opportunities” they might have to share the good news of Jesus, while they give out full Bibles or select Scriptures.

“We’re going out to where the gospel is needed and not in a passive way.”

About 97,000 copies of the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs were personally distributed in Australia last year – a figure Hawkins says is increasing.

“We only boast in Christ and our opportunity to serve.” – Lincoln Hawkins

One of the key areas of growth in distributing God’s word is among the many different cultural groups in Australia. Hawkins offers an example of Gideons’ work in one of Sydney’s cross-cultural epicentres. “We had a massive number of people saved during a week we had at Parramatta at the start of the year, just going down to the railway station and giving them Scripture in their language.”

“We only boast in Christ and our opportunity to serve. Like a lot of other ministries, we don’t seek publicity … We don’t seek to boast in the number of Scriptures [we distribute] but as a quick indicator, wow, that’s incredible scope and opportunity, isn’t it?”

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