by Ben Avery
Gideon is an incredible experience for many people and for many reasons, but for me, there is one reason I look forward to being at the Gideon every year.
Sure, there are showings of great movies by Christian filmmakers. And there are the seminars filled with invaluable information. And there has been some pretty good food in the past. And don’t forget the keynote speakers, who spiritually motivate and professionally inspire.
But Gideon is, to me, more. It is people. It is iron sharpening iron. Relationships, as I said.
On many different levels.
At Gideon, I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people I know. Many of them are people I stay in contact with throughout the year.
A couple of those relationships have been on a professional level.
I have gotten to know a handful of people who have contacted me during the year between Gideon conferences, asking me for advice about creating comic books.
I met a man who ended up hiring me to do a number of freelance writing projects.
I met a man who has partnered with me to produce a podcast for over a year now.
I met some people, face to face, who I had collaborated with on projects in the past but only been in contact with via e-mail before.
I have made some friendships, familiar faces that I am so glad to see every year.
But also acquaintances that, when sitting at a table eating dinner and “breaking bread,” I would never have had a chance to talk to outside the confines of Gideon. At meal times, I have found myself sitting with aspiring screenwriters, a career musician who wrote music for movies, working actors, hopeful actors, producers, publishers, novelists, aspiring novelists, singers, songwriters, singer/songwriters, young people still figuring out what they want to do with their lives, young people with concrete certainty what they want to do with their lives . . . I could go on, but you get the idea. These are people who I learned from just by sharing experiences, anecdotes, and even just sleepy greetings during breakfast.
Many of these relationships have been on a deeper spiritual level, too.
One woman listened to a dream that I have for a ministry/media project and gave me many words of encouragement and $20 toward that project. “Seed money” she called it, telling me she believed in that project. And as I move forward on that project, her encouragement is one thing that is in the front of my mind.
I made a friend who, in the couple years since we met, I have been able to encourage and receive encouragement from him and he has encouraged me, once encouraging me to do something I knew I needed to do, definitely did not WANT to do, but when he talked me through it, ended up doing it.
Iron sharpening iron.
Finally, and most importantly, a relationship I have found strengthened at Gideon is my relationship with God
Now, I can’t guarantee how it will happen for you, but I can again share from my own experience.
While I have been at Gideon, I have been able to listen to some very powerful sermon messages and testimonies. I have, as I mentioned above, had some interesting discussions with other people at Gideon. Sitting over dinner, I have had some of the most encouraging words spoken to me by both friends and near strangers.
And while Gideon has been so busy as I tried to make it to seminars I want to attend and prepare for my own seminars and get to dinner on time and making appointments with other Gideonites with their own busy schedules . . . I have also found Gideon to be a retreat.
A retreat away from the busy-ness of everyday life. A retreat from the responsibilities of everyday life. A retreat from friends and family.
And so, as busy as I am, I found that I had time to spend with God in a different way than I do at home. I have had a chance to hear God in a different way that I do at home. There is something about being in that different place, surrounded by people who are there to improve their craft in service to God, that makes you look at things in a new way.
I cannot guarantee you will have the same experiences I have had, but I can tell you that, if you let it, you will be touched by the many relationships that come your way.