Anastasia Irene Brown is a 15-year-old from California. She enjoys spending time with her parents and three siblings, listening to and making music, writing, poetry, and of course, spending time in God’s Word. In 2020, Anastasia won the Junior division National Bible Bee Competition (NBBC). Drawing off her years of experience in the National Bible Bee (NBB), she has answered the questions below to help both NBB participants and prospective NBB participants in their journey into God’s Word.
How did you find out about the National Bible Bee?
My parents found out about the NBBC from a homeschooling magazine. I was then eight years old. They signed me up, and I have been doing it ever since (seven years). I was excited to begin this journey, but I am sure that neither my parents nor I anticipated how long it would last and what eternal impact it would have. This was in 2014, and we studied Jonah and Nahum. It has been fun for me to watch the NBB progress in technology and other areas since then!
What has motivated you to continue studying?
At first, my motivation for doing the NBBC was the competition aspect, but as I continued studying and competing, I found myself wanting to do it more and more because of the great delight such in-depth study of God’s Word brought into my life and less and less for the competition reasons. Now I realize that the competition itself is really “the icing on the cake”; the study and application of the Word is the true treasure that leads to eternal rewards and far outweighs any earthly prize! This perspective has helped me to get through disappointing times.
How has the National Bible Bee impacted your life?
The NBB has impacted my life in more ways than I can express. When I was younger, I had temper and behavior issues. But as Hebrews 4:12 says, the Word of God is living, powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword. I saw this in my early NBB experience, for there were memory passages of Scripture that I did not want to recite because they powerfully convicted me of my disobedience and resistance to parental authority. They revealed my sin and told me I needed to change. Through the in-depth study and memorization of God’s Word, the Lord has changed my life. Also, the fellowship with amazing families who love the Lord with all their hearts has transformed my walk with the Lord and has provided me with many invaluable friendships.
If you could go back and change one thing about what you’ve done in previous years in studying for the National Bible Bee, what would it be?
If I could change anything about how I studied for the NBBC in past years, I would have chosen to think more about what I was studying instead of merely memorizing facts, which is what I seemed to be doing during my first two years. It is useless to be memorizing the Word if it is not applied to our lives, just as James talks about being a doer of the Word rather than just a hearer. It is so easy to take the holy words of the Bible lightly when I know them by heart, but I need to continually stop and remind myself of their power and their eternal truths. I should not have an attitude of familiarity toward it, but rather that of reverence, awe, wonder, and humility. Because it is living and active, the Word can always teach me new things.
How have you continued to study the Bible through the off-season?
The NBB has given me such deep love for Scripture that during the off-seasons, I do not want to stop being immersed in the Word! This winter and spring, I have been leading a study group on Hebrews for about twenty of my NBB friends, and it has blessed my life greatly. I am also reading through the Bible in four months, and I memorized a few passages of Scripture that I really enjoy. Every year, I tend to set more memorization goals for myself in the off-season, but I rarely get them all done in the six months before the NBBC starts again. Yet no matter what goals were finished or not, the important thing is to desire to spend time in the Word of God and do it.
What would you say to someone new to the National Bible Bee?
I would tell someone new to the NBBC that participating in the NBB is totally worth the hard work it requires. It gives the motivation to study the Word in a way that you could rarely discover elsewhere. It is the biggest blessing to spend your childhood and young adult years in the Word of God because it sets a firm foundation for the rest of your life. As Ecclesiastes 12 tells us, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” The competition is fun, and the fellowship with other like-minded believers is invaluable. The NBB gives you a perspective on and love for the Scriptures that would be difficult to attain elsewhere.
What would you say to someone who would also like to win the competition someday?
I would encourage them to honor God by working hard and leave the rest in God’s omniscient hands. Every year, I find that I must surrender the competition results to God and simply do my best, trusting Him to guide me as He sees fit, whether that be getting eliminated or getting to finals. At times I experienced great disappointment during the competition; however, trusting that the Lord knows best and meditating on the Scriptures I had hidden in my heart has helped me process both the disappointments and the joys in light of His sovereign goodness and providence.
Any closing thoughts?
I am eternally grateful for the NBB and the impact it has had on my life and on the lives of thousands of young people across the country. The Scriptures I have studied and memorized have already encouraged and blessed me in countless ways through both good and difficult times, and I know that they will continue to instruct me for the rest of my life. I am so thankful for the solid foundation of God’s Word that the NBB has given me. Philippians 3:7-14 best sums up my NBB experience.
Written by NBB Alumnus: Dylan George