It started six years ago, when my family and I were at a homeschool convention. While I was browsing curriculum, my husband and my sister attended a workshop put on by Kevin Leary for the National Bible Bee. We decided to register our kids, along with my sister’s family, just to see what it was all about. We barely made it through the Summer Study, partly because we had no host and didn’t quite understand what we were doing, and partly because the discipline of scripture memory was something we were not accustomed to. I remember saying to my husband at the end of the summer, “Well, that was nice…but it was a lot of work and I don’t think I want to give up my summer days to do that again.”
Now, six years later, after seeing what God has done in our family, church, and community through the National Bible Bee, it makes me laugh to think of that statement. It also reminds me of the old Yiddish proverb: Man plans and God laughs.
God must have certainly been laughing at my silly plans, for this year, He brought 100 children and young adults to our local group here in Northeast Ohio. Hosting a group this size is a ton of work, but now I can say that it is my absolute joy to “give up” my summers to labor in the ministry of “Knowing God’s Word and making Him known.”
As our host group has grown, our meetings have changed. Today, a typical meeting for us involves three components: worship & welcome, study time, and fellowship. We begin our meetings altogether as a group. Because we see the National Bible Bee Competition (NBBC) as a powerful tool to train up the future generation of church leaders, we focus very heavily on the leadership of our Senior participants, and train the Junior participants to eventually take their place. Our meetings open with a Senior young man leading us in prayer.
Next, our worship time is led by Seniors. After some announcements, we break out into our individual age divisions to study for an hour and a half. Our Beginners and Primaries are led in scripture recitations, games, and other crafts and activities that focus on the lessons in the Discovery Journal (DJ) from the previous two weeks. Our Juniors also recite and we use games and mnemonic devices of all kinds to help them memorize important lessons and facts from the DJ. By the time our participants get to the Senior level, they are not “taught” by anyone. Rather, an adult helps facilitate while the seniors lead. Our young men take turns preparing a devotional to share with the group based on an important lesson from the DJ or study passage. All the seniors participate in group discussion centered around the gospel message and how it relates to the study passage.
After our two-hour meeting, we always share in sack lunches and extended fellowship time at a local park. There is such sweet fellowship among our youth. It is not uncommon for our meetings and fellowship time to last from 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon! Our “Bible Bee Fridays” are certainly among our favorite summer memories each year.
Participating in and hosting the NBB has completely changed the spiritual trajectory of our family since six years ago. We have experienced a love and joy for memorizing God’s Word that was not there before. Our older children have been sanctified through the intense process of memorizing hundreds of passages. We have learned the joy of serving and laboring together in the ministry of hosting.
Through NBB, God has blessed us immensely with sweet fellowship with hundreds of other like-minded believers. I truly cannot think of a single aspect of our lives that has not been touched and changed by NBB! Each summer, we have new families join. And inevitably each summer, some of those new families will “fall away”. Some do not complete the Summer Study for various reasons. Some stop coming to meetings, and despite our best efforts, we never hear from them again. But, every year, there are a few new families that catch that “vision” and you can clearly see by the end of summer that God has set them on a new path. When I am tired and discouraged, I think of those families. It never fails to excite and encourage me to “not grow weary in doing good.”
If you are considering hosting, don’t worry about how you will lead or teach or house or facilitate your local group. You don’t have to have everything planned and worked out in advance. Just sign up and trust in God’s faithfulness. I know He will provide all your needs, just as He has ours so many times throughout the years. Don’t be discouraged if your group is too small or too large or too young or too anything. Every group is the “perfect” group because it is a group of people, brought together by God, to share in the joy of studying and memorizing His Word. As a host, you will never know how many young people will be saved and sanctified through your labor of love. Our labors are NEVER in vain. Each local group has an enormous influence that ripples through your family, your children, your church and your community. To God be the glory!
Written by NBB Host: Tara Beechy