“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.”

Frederick Buechner

 February 1995 – Brisbane, Australia: Berni Dymet stood on the balcony of the Grand Chancellor Hotel. Friends and colleagues thought he was living the dream as he flew first class worldwide, but his life was a mess. It was a bright, sunny morning but a dark, painful time for Berni. As the 36-year-old stared at the parking lot eight floors below, he wrestled with jumping and ending it all.

Born into an affluent family, Berni had attended Australia’s Royal Military College and had been a successful Army officer for a decade. Afterward, he and a friend started an information technology consulting company with offices in 15 countries. Berni had it all – a successful career, plenty of money, houses, cars and vacation homes. But the more stuff he accumulated, the emptier he became.

As Berni stood at the railing, he was torn between the urge to jump or return to his room to read the Gideon Bible he had discovered in the top drawer next to his bed. He returned to the room. He opened the Bible and saw a note. “If discouraged or in trouble, read Psalm 126 and John 14.” After reading the two chapters, he got on his knees and prayed for the first time in years.

Almost 100 years earlier, on September 14, 1898, at the Boscobel Central House Hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin, two traveling salesmen met for the first time by happenstance. John Nicholson, a Christian and regular at the hotel, arrived at 9 p.m. to find the hotel completely full. As he started to leave, the front desk employee stopped him. One bed was available in Room 19, which was occupied by Samuel Hill. Hill agreed to share his room with Nicholson.

Before Nicholson turned out the light, he asked, “Mr. Hill will you pardon me if I keep the light on a little longer. Twenty years ago, I promised my dying mother that I would read my Bible and pray. I make it a daily practice.” Hill, also a Christian, asked his impromptu roommate to read it to him. They talked late into the evening about the need for a Christian association for business travelers. Before departing, they committed to meet again.

Eight months later, the two men met at the YMCA in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Intending to unite traveling salespeople for evangelism across the country, they formed the Gideons: The Christian Commercial Traveling Men’s Association. In 1908, the Gideons tackled the unfathomable mission of placing Bibles in every hotel room in America. Later that year, the first Bibles were placed at the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana.

Today the Gideons have 300,000 members in more than 200 countries. The organization comprises professional businessmen and women, who are in good standing with their churches, but no clergy are involved. Since its beginning, the organization has distributed two billion Bibles to hotels, prisons, nursing homes, military bases and college campuses.

A few months after his salvation experience, Berni Dymet enrolled in a Bible college. He also volunteered in a ministry called Christianity Works and eventually joined the board. In 2004, he became the chief executive officer of Christianity Works.

Today, 63-year-old Bernie leads an organization that produces a program in Sydney, Australia, that airs on more than 1,000 radio stations in 160 countries. Forty million people listen to the daily broadcast. “I pray that in eternity I meet the guy who placed the Bible in the top drawer next to my bed in that Brisbane hotel,” smiles Bernie. “I don’t know where I would be today without that Bible.”