The National Bible Bee Competition (NBBC) is over and the winners have been announced! Our winners were Elizabeth Chen for the Senior division, Jedidiah Persall for the Junior Division, and Viaan Oggi for the Primary Division. Elizabeth and Jedidiah were interviewed to offer their perspectives after winning the NBBC.
Elizabeth is a 16-year old Senior competitor from North Carolina. After winning NBBC in her division, she desired that God be given all the glory for it. She said, “I’m happy that I won, but I also know that I didn’t win, God gave me the win and I just need to give Him all the glory and all the praise.”
Throughout her National Bible Bee (NBB) adventure, God also enabled Elizabeth to overcome many challenges she faced both leading up to the competition, and at the competition itself. She explained, “Probably the biggest challenge I faced this year was the long study passage. I spent a lot of time complaining about how I wasted a lot of time at the beginning… and I was always beating myself up about every little thing. That was a big struggle for me this year. But then I realized that I couldn’t spend all my time worrying about the past and what I should have or could have done differently, and God showed me through the memory passages that I needed to press forward.”
Elizabeth also shared some of her struggles at the competition, and how God brought her out of it. The morning of finals, she was beginning to lose her voice and felt exhausted. She explained, “I was lying on the couch reciting my passages and getting them all wrong… I was really sad because I thought that would affect my performance in finals, so I was praying and asking God to help me to submit to His will and to accept whatever I get, because He already gave me finals and I did not expect that. It was really stressful but by the time I got to that stage, I had already surrendered the competition to God.” When finals started, Elizabeth’s voice felt perfectly fine and her tiredness had waned. She continued, “I became really hyper, and not tired, so that was just a miracle. It was God’s grace. God cured me so that I could go in and do my best. It was so incredible to learn that lesson that I have to surrender everything to God and it really showed that He empowered me. Even though I was very weak, He still gave me strength to do His will.”
Jedidiah is a 13-year old Junior competitor from Pennsylvania. Besides studying the Bible, he also enjoys taking time to pause and enjoy life. It doesn’t take doing nothing but NBB in order to win! For example, one of the activities Jedidiah enjoys is taking an hour to read every day. He said, “There are a lot of things I do besides NBB as well. I often like to take a pause in those things during the NBB season and put a main focus on NBB, but that can’t always be the case. So often I spend more time studying during the last few weeks before the MCT than during the beginning of the NBB season.”
Jedidiah hasn’t always had it easy when it comes to studying for NBB, however. In 2020, he was unable to attend semi-finals and compete even though he qualified. This proved to be a huge struggle for him, but God taught him an important lesson through it. He said, “God has made everything in His time, and God orchestrates everything for a purpose, both the ups and the downs. So if God can do that when I’m there, why can’t He do that when I’m not there?” Watching the livestream encouraged Jedidiah by showing him that God was still working through NBBC even though he couldn’t be there in person.
Elizabeth and Jedidiah both shared how the Lord blessed them with the chance to recite the passages that proved to be most encouraging to them that year. For Elizabeth, that was Job 38:1-18, which is about the power and sovereignty of God. This encouraged Elizabeth by showing her God’s power to enable her to do the little things if He is sovereign over the big things. With Jedidiah, that was Galatians 3:23-29. This passage encouraged him because it communicated to him that, “We can put on Christ even though we are Gentiles and not Jews. That is the message that Paul says in Colossians 3 and it is the message of salvation that the gospel is open to all.”
Elizabeth leaves this advice for those who would like to one day win themselves. She said, “[You] shouldn’t try to win, because that isn’t the goal. Even if you win you’ll be disappointed because if you get one thing you want, you’ll want to get something else, and you’re never going to be satisfied. NBB is not about winning; it’s about learning God’s Word and getting closer to Him… Surrender it all to God and if He wants you to win, you will.”
Written by NBB Alumnus: Dylan George