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By Troy Treasure
Gideons International saw many of its activities distributing God’s word suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through brainstorming and prayer – most members likely would cite the latter prompted the former – a national initiative was established.
Reach Responders recognizes the service of individuals who put their lives on the line while on duty, as well as those whose behind-the-scene duties assist the public during a litany of situations.
The Shelbina Camp of Gideons International recently presented framed pictures of the Reach Responders prayer and Bibles to Shelby County’s law enforcement agencies, fire departments, 911 Dispatch and Salt River Ambulance District.
Many of the local offices had previously received printed versions of the prayer, but a formal presentation took place at the courthouse Thursday, March 18.
According to Gideons International’s website, Reach Responders is a three-fold effort:
To thank first responders for their work and dedication; ask how you and your camp can be praying specifically for them; if appropriate and the Spirit directs, offer them a Testament, a timely word of witness or a Gideon Bible app card and show them the value God’s word provides both to them and to those they help.
“We weren’t able to go to our university campuses so we asked the question, ‘What are some things we can do to reach out to our communities?’” Roger Otto, president of the Shelbina Camp, said.
“It was kind of like a fire, it started in one camp and we picked up on that and started thinking about how we were going to do this last fall,” Otto added.
The outreach hit particularly close to home for Shelbina Fire Protection District Chief Gene Harland.
“I thought it was really unique. I really liked it,” Harland said. “My brother Charles, when he was alive, was really involved with the
Gideons in Kahoka.”
Shelbina City Marshal Jeff Brown said the prayer is hanging on a wall of his office.
“I wasn’t here the day it was dropped off. We’d had a long talk previously,” Brown said. “We appreciate not only the support of citizens; it is always good to have the support of religious organizations, as well.”
Otto said the main focus was to place God’s word in people’s hands.
“They can open it up, put in their mind and then in their heart,” he said. “Bring light into this world. It’s so needed.”
County 911 Director Lori Miles indicated she was contacted last week.
“I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. I’ll get with the Sheriff and set up a time,’” she said.
Miles cited a specific reason she and the 911 staff appreciated the Gideons’ effort and why it was especially meaningful.
“We are the people no one sees. We’re the voice at the end of the phone at a distraught time,” she said. “We don’t get their call on a good day; it’s usually the worst day of their life when we get a call.
“We are the voice that is there when someone is in dire need. That’s who we are,” Miles elaborated. “We’re here to help them in any way we can.”
Salt River Ambulance District paramedic Jaime Greening said the gesture was very much appreciated.
“It was touching,” Greening said. “The Gideons had contacted the ambulance district and we came over here for this presentation.”
Shelby Community Fire Department Chief Mike Geisendorfer was wrenching on an automobile in Shelbyville when he was informed of the presentation.
“I thought it was a great gesture for other people to be thinking about us and praying for us when we’re doing this service,” Geisendorfer said. “We appreciate that.”
Sheriff Arron Frederickson alluded to the Shelbina Camp’s outreach as another reason why he and his family live in the county and he serves it as chief law enforcement officer.
“In today’s culture when everybody is pointing fingers and blaming other people, to have someone come out of the blue and say thank you, we appreciate you, we’re supporting you and we just want to let you know every day we’re praying for you, that’s a blessing,” Frederickson said.
“It’s a huge blessing to know that there are people that care for us and pray for us,” Frederickson continued. “That’s one of the things that I’m thankful about in Shelby County, in general.
“Some people might not necessarily like what we do sometimes; depending upon the situation,” he added, “but, overall, I believe Shelby County is very supportive of law enforcement. That’s why I love Shelby County.”