|Duluth, MN Local Host describes benefits of the Bible Bee for families...|
By Sue DeLoach, Local Host of the Duluth Bible Bee
I’ve always believed that as Jeremiah 29:11 says, God has plans for our lives. Sometimes, when we least expect it, His sovereign direction illuminates those plans, clarifying our path. So it was when my daughter Sarah encouraged me to check out a new program initiated by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation called National Bible Bee. I balked…a competition? Bible memory for accolades, rewards? No thanks. But as I skimmed through the Bible Bee website, I began to feel the pulse of passion for our children hiding God’s Word in their hearts, and I found myself prayerfully considering just what kind of an impact this might have for the kingdom of God here in the Twin Ports. As I reread the web, words from Deuteronomy 6 leapt out at me. I remembered God’s constant nudging to my husband and me to teach God’s words diligently to our children wherever we were, binding them on our hands and writing them on our foreheads and the doorposts of our homes. My spirit soared, I applied to host, and a fledgling 2010 local Bible Bee was now a reality.
A summer of hosting Duluth’s first Bible Bee exploded with sweet surprises. Families thirsting for spiritual growth accepted the three month challenge of growing in God’s Word, not just through scripture memory, but in a devotional/prayer dimension as well. Packages were released June first to contestant families with all the basic tools needed for spiritual growth and competition. Opportunity for kids and adults to share likeminded passions for the Word occurred as families drew us together in devotional “Sword Studies” and bonfires; and monthly summer happenings culminated in our first local Bible Bee competition.
Our June event taught me that not only was scripture memory doable, but it was ignited by the dual purpose of sharing monies (through pledges received per verse learned) with the community in a house building project, Modest Home Makeover. With magic markers in hand, children literally wrote memorized verses all over the portals, rafters, wall frames, and even floor slab of the Hallfrisches’ new house structure, harvesting not only the blessings of God’s Word in their hearts, but helping to defray the cost of building as well.
Families were pleased that the structure of Bible Bee is perfect for diverse ages and family needs. Competition categories are confined to 3 age groups between the ages of 7 and 18, with an identical age grouping in the more relaxed “Timothy” track, and a sibling support tract. “Sword Study” devotionals for all ages enhance an inductive Bible study which families participate in as part of the Bible Bee, enhancing family prayer and group Bible study and providing tools assisting parents to engage as a family in the process of spiritual growth.
Tara Mattson, a Bible Bee mom, states what she loved about the Duluth Bee was that “it wasn’t about the competition or keeping up the memorization…for our family it was literally hiding His Word away in our hearts together as a family.”
“Bible Bee challenges me to do much more [memorizing] than I normally would, and you can store up so much of God’s word in your heart,” says 11-year-old Hannah Bettendorf. Sister Megan, age 9, says of the Bible Bee experience: “God taught me that I have better memorizing skills than I thought, to love Him more, and to be more like Him.” Bettendorfs’ mom, Carrie has been encouraged and motivated by her children, who are registered to compete in the National Bible Bee track this summer in Duluth.
Our local competition last August was very enlightening. Part of what made it so special was to see the diligence of learning God’s Word impact our families and challenge our spiritual apathy. The spark of excitement that God’s Word instilled in children was a testimony to their faithful obedience and God’s exceedingly precious promises toward us.
It was exciting to see that one of our senior competitors, Hosanna Krahn, who memorized 800 Bible verses, finished in the top 100 and advanced to the national competition held in November. “Besides the motivation it gives for spending time studying and memorizing my Bible,” Krahn says, “one of the main things I’ve noticed is in my thought life. I find myself thinking about Scripture more…God taught me to persevere even when I didn’t feel like it. He also taught me to manage my time more wisely…and many other things that will last a lifetime.”
“The entire experience was life altering,” Mattson sums up. “As we know, God’s Word is active and penetrating, teaching, rebuking us where needed…and when we are intentional about hiding God’s Word in our hearts daily, we reap the benefits of diligent work. He is amazing to help us when we are willing.”
Mattson offers the following: “EXTRA, EXTRA for KIDS and FAMILIES!” (Ten Reasons to participate in the Duluth Bible Bee!)
1. A present arrives to your home filled with goodies which include your very own bible (in your translation of choice), a study guide and curriculum for your study, memorization cards, a T-shirt, and much more.
2. Each family receives puzzle pieces to bring to the headquarters of your local bee to add to other families’ pieces – working together with other Bible believing families.
3. Phenomenal Family Time
4. God’s Word hidden into your heart
5. It’s fun for all
6. It’s not hard or scary, if you memorize one verse you feel accomplishment
7. Support network is unbelievable (encouraging notes weekly!)
8. Sense of accomplishment
9. Growing closer to God
10. My daughter’s favorite “We get to memorize Bible verses!”