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The Stakes are High

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The stakes are high. Every year since 2008 nearly 6,000 American elementary and high school children have pitted themselves against each other in a spelling-bee-style competition known as the National Bible Bee. For several months students participate in online tests and exams in the hope of being selected as one of 300 children and youth to compete in the Nashville, Tennessee, November finals. The hugely popular Scripps National Spelling Bee awards the national spelling champion $35,000. Prize money at the National Bible Bee outstrips this award. Top place in the senior category of the National Bible Bee is $100,000 and total prize money at the event is $260,000.

Imagine being a ten year old contestant: You walk up to the microphone and look at the moderator who asks you to recite 1 Timothy 2:9-11. You have more than 2,000 memorized verses buzzing through your mind, but you can’t stall. You know if you pause for longer than ten seconds, you’ll be eliminated. One wrong word when you recite the text – eliminated. So you recite the text slowly and clearly, take a deep breath, and wait for the judges to nod. If you get the nod you’ll return to your seat with the other finalists and prepare yourself for the next round . . .

Many are asking why the organizers of the National Bible Bee are doing what they’re doing. Phil Vischer, a Bible Bee presenter and co-creator of the Veggie Tales cartoons says, “These kids are learning the Bible so they can live Christianity well.”

Some of my Christian peers can recite, from memory, several texts from the Bible. Many Christians I know can only recite a verse or two. Nine year old Olivia Davis, winner of the 2011 primary division says, “If young people all did Bible Bee, we could change the country forever!” Can memorizing the Word of God lead to cultural change from sea to sea? Maybe! The Bible teaches us that when our hearts and minds are full of good things, then our words and actions will be good (cf. Luke 6:45). So I’m with Olivia; dreaming about what could happen if people, both young and old, started memorizing Scripture.

[Source for information on the National Bible Bee: The Globe and Mail. Monday, November 21, 2011]

© Copyright Scripture Union Canada, 2011

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