Joe Tournear Addresses the Rotary Club of Heber Springs
Heber Springs, AR
12/20/2017 04:10 PM

The December 19 presenter for the meeting of the Rotary Club of Heber Springs was fellow Cleburne County Rotarian Joe Tournear, speaking on behalf of Gideons International. Providing some history on the international organization, Mr. Tournear said that in the autumn of 1898, John H. Nicholson of Janesville, Wisconsin, arrived at the Central Hotel at Boscobel, Wisconsin, for the night. The hotel was crowded, but he was offered a bed in a double room with Samuel E. Hill of Beloit, Wisconsin. The two men soon discovered they shared a common belief in Christ, and they decided to have their evening devotions together. During their prayer time, both felt the call to begin developing an Association.


On May 31, 1899, the two men met again at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, where they decided the purpose of their Association would be to band Christian commercial travelers together for mutual recognition, personal evangelism, and united service for the Lord.  Because nearly all of the Gideons in the early years of the Association were traveling men, it was suggested that The Gideons supply a Bible for each hotel room in the United States. This plan, which they called "The Bible Project" was adopted at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1908.


From the initial two men, the organization now boasts more than 300,000 members in 200 countries across the globe, each carrying on the same mission of distributing bibles. Internationally, the organization is responsible for handing out two bibles every second, and they are expected to have given out 90 million bibles in 100 different languages by the end of this year alone. 


In Cleburne county, there are 59 Gideons and 35 members of the Gideons Auxiliary, made up of the wives of the Gideons themselves. Fifty-three different churches in the county support the efforts of the local Gideons, although Mr. Tournear said that about 37% of the funding for the organization comes from the individual Gideons themselves.  Every penny donated goes directly to purchase bibles for distribution, and the Cleburne county “camp” of Gideons distributes on average 6000 bibles a year.


Like the Gideons, Rotarians are “People of Action” who are making a difference locally, nationally and internationally.  The Object of Rotary is "to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise." The Rotary Club of Heber Springs meets each Tuesday at noon on the ASU-Heber Springs Campus. For more information about the Rotary Club of Heber Springs, please visit our Facebook page at

Kathy Phillips, Public Relations Chair
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