By Michelle Avery — Editorial Assistant at Herald and Banner Press and Bookstore in Overland Park, Kansas.
John Nicholson and Sam Hill had never met before, but because of a packed town in the late 1800s, the two salesmen shared a hotel room. When one discovered the other was a Christian brother, they were thrilled.
They talked long into the night about how helpful it would be to other Christian salesmen to have some way of keeping in contact with one another. By the next morning, they had determined to found an association to allow others the same fellowship they had found.
But then they left the hotel and immediately forgot. It was more than half a year later before they met up again and in embarrassment admitted their inaction. They chose a date for their first meeting and set out to invite other salesmen to attend.
The meeting was attended by a grand total of three men. The newly formed association was not discouraged though, and the three gentlemen started by appointing themselves to leadership. President John Nicholson, Vice President Sam Hill, and Secretary-Treasurer William Knights next decided a name might be important for their group and so chose that of an Old Testament conqueror, Gideon.
Bible placement seems to be the most visible part of the association’s ministry, but it is not by any means the only part. “Winning commercial traveling men for Christ” has always been their goal. With now more than 100,000 salesmen believing “in the Bible as the inspired Word of God” and having “received Christ as their personal Savior,” they are achieving their goal.