WRITE: The Buzz on the Bee (National Bible Bee)
SO. NOT. HAPPENING. In a previous post, I mentioned my plans to blog from the National Bible Bee in Nashville,Tennessee. Not only were my days of volunteering, judging, and collecting stories long and exhausting, but I had little to no Internet during that time. In fact, my busy month of travel and speaking has led me to dub it “No-Write November” and renew my commitment to more words, work, and blog posts as I finish out the year.
In any case, I want to share a few of my reactions to the Bible Bee. I had the privilege of speaking with numerous proud parents and excited students during the event, which took place over the course of several days (November 16-19). I also heard from teachers who included Kirk Cameron and Voddie Baucham (both impressed me as articulate, godly men) and worshiped under the leadership of Keith and Kristen Getty and other gifted musicians.
What impressed me most about the Bible Bee, however, wasn’t the people, place (the beautiful Renaissance Hotel and Nashville Convention Center), preparation (months of planning and coordination precede an event of this caliber), or prizes (a total of $260,000 given to winners in three divisions from ages 7 through 18). What left me in awe was the presence and power of God’s Word. It flowed across banners and huge displays throughout the expansive area devoted to the Bee. It was quoted by a series of contestants from all three divisions (up to twenty-five passages in ten minutes for the preliminary round alone). And as I spoke with those who had invested thousands of hours of time and energy, I witnessed what the Shelby Kennedy Foundation, originators of the Bee, emphasizes: every child who participates is a winner.
As God’s unique creation, of course every child is a winner. But that phrase is more than Christian doublespeak. Scripture itself says God’s Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). It is “living, active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). It has the power to keep us from sin (Psalm 119:11). And because all these things are true, any child who studied or memorized even one verse has a tremendous resource in heart and hand.
At the contest’s close, I had the privilege of speaking with four young ladies, all top winners of the Senior Division. In separate interviews, each told me the contest’s true value came not in the prizes but in the experience of coming to know and love God’s Word.
Most of the 300 contestants who participated in the national competition went home without a huge scholarship, accolades, or prize money. But they all gained much more than any of those things could ever provide. Whether or not these young people participate in future Bible Bees, they have personal knowledge of the treasure in God’s Word. Their challenge, as more than one speaker reminded them, is to allow it to continue to work its way out in their lives and hearts.
I’m grateful for an organization like the Shelby Kennedy Foundation which knows its mission is so much more than a contest of mind or memory. The Foundation’s commitment to “family discipleship—one verse at a time” has already had a huge impact on eternity.
Whether or not you have experience with the National Bible Bee, how has God’s Word changed your life or that of someone you know? Feel free to share your story.