Janese Hurst is a member of the 2023 Alumni Service Team! Three words that her friends commonly use to describe her are: joyful, insightful, and sincere. Let’s get to know her a little better through a Q&A.
Here are a few fun facts about Janese:
- Age: 20
- Home state: Pennsylvania
- Favorite thing about Pennsylvania: We live right between two mountain ranges, which means we have a lot of great hiking spots close by.
- Fun fact about your family: My 10 siblings and I have had a collection of pets over the years, but some of the most memorable include a wild robin, a handful of frogs, and a particularly patient goat named Sheena.
Q: Welcome Janese! Thank you for taking part in this interview and providing us with some fun facts about yourself. What are some hobbies or interests of yours/how do you enjoy spending your free time?
A: Things I do (on purpose) for fun include reading books, having good conversations with friends, falling down rabbit holes of research on topics I’m interested in, messing around in the kitchen while absolutely refusing to follow a recipe, doing almost anything with my siblings (from games to walks, to late night chats, to taking super embarrassing photos together), playing piano or violin when nobody else can hear me, pretending to be artistic in the form of hand lettering and watercolors, singing with friends, playingvolleyball, hiking until I’m sore and miserable, and zoning out while listening to music and then having to restart the song because I wasn’t paying attention enough the first time.
Q: It sounds like you know how to have fun! Since this is the Alumni Service Team, you have obviously participated in the NBB. How many years did you compete in NBBC and how old were you when you began?
A: I competed in the National Bible Bee for 4 years, from age 15 till I aged out in 2020.
Q: Awesome! How did you first hear about NBB, and what got you to begin participating?
A: I first heard about the National Bible Bee through family friends. That fall I watched them compete in the National Bible Bee Competition and was awed and inspired by all the contestants’ knowledge of and love for the Word, but I didn’t think I was smart enough or good enough at memorizing to participate myself. Thankfully, one of my close friends had just participated in the NBB for the first time, so she encouraged me to try it anyway and memorize what I could. My parents encouraged me, so I signed up, and after meeting with our local group I was super inspired and excitedly tackled memorizing. It was hard, and there were many discouraging moments, but by God’s grace I qualified for the National Bible Bee Competition, and after memorizing hundreds of verses for the Competition I realized that memorizing is a skill that can be developed, not an inherent ability that some have and others don’t, and I absolutely loved it. I’m so grateful that I was able to participate for 4 years, and I don’t regret a single second of it!
Q: That is so great! Now I am curious, if you could summarize your NBB journey in one phrase what would it be? How did it shape your life today and why does it matter?
A: My National Bible Bee journey could be summarized by the phrase “a change of trajectory.” When you adjust something’s trajectory by a very small amount, initially the difference is so small as to be almost imperceptible, but over time as it moves further along on its course the difference becomes greater and more apparent, and that slight variation in direction can eventually end up at a completely different destination. In this case, I’m not talking about salvation, since I was a believer coming into the NBB, but my change in trajectory came from being shaped deeply by the Word during that very moldable period of my life. It definitely changed the course of my life and where I’m at today. How? By instilling more scriptural thought patterns in my mind and shaping my heart according to scriptural values, changing the way I think and live on a day-to-day basis. It certainly is an ongoing process, and I will keep making decisions that shape the trajectory of my life in different ways, but for some choices, like this one, the sooner you make that adjustment in your trajectory, the more it will affect the entire rest of your life.
Q: So much wisdom there! Throughout your study of God’s Word, what is one of your favorite Scripture passages and why?
A: My favorite verse or passage changes often, based on what I’m thinking about or going through in my current stage, and lately, two of those passages are Philippians 2:1-11 and all of Romans 8. Both are incredible pictures of the depth of Christ’s love and grace toward us, even though we did not deserve it, and they are filled with amazing truths that enable us to live lives of radical service toward others and abiding peace in Christ in this world. But if I have to mention the passage that most frequently tops my list of favorites, I would have to say all of Psalm 19, especially verse 14. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 KJV)
Q: Those are beautiful passages! What do you miss most about NBB since aging out?
A: I miss getting to spend such large amounts of time in the Word so consistently and having the accountability to excellence in studying and memorizing that the competition provided. It’s a powerful and impactful season of life and one that shouldn’t be taken for granted!
Q: I definitely agree that time in the NBBC should not be taken for granted! What word of advice do you have for participants of the National Bible Bee?
A: On perspective: remember the reason for studying and memorizing – to grow in your love and knowledge of God, and to transform your heart and mind – and value those things enough to stick with it even when it’s hard and uninspiring. The time you spend in the Word now will shape your heart and mind and set a trajectory for the rest of your life, not only on earth but eternally.
On practice: make it a habit by studying and memorizing consistently. Challenge yourself to memorize just a little more than you think you can. Review often. Memorize with a community for accountability and encouragement.
Q: Amazing tips! What is your favorite way to memorize Scripture?
A: There may be a shortcut to the memorizing process, but if there is, I haven’t managed to unlock it yet. The way I memorize and review is simply by repetition – reading the verse and then repeating it until I can say it perfectly, and then going on to the next verse and doing the same thing. Once I have both down, I recite them together, and once I recite them perfectly back-to-back I move on to the next verse and repeat the process. And when I get to the end of the passage in this manner I go back and recite the whole thing perfectly at least once before I consider it “memorized.” A few practical tips that have helped me: always recite out loud when memorizing, don’t skip review in favor of memorizing more new verses, if you’re stuck on a hard passage switch up your memorizing method a little (like singing it, writing it out, etc.), do not allow yourself to memorize any mistakes into the passage, and just because you memorized it doesn’t mean you’ll remember it perfectly for forever, so review, review, and review some more.
Q: What aspect of studying God’s Word do you enjoy the most?
A: It is somewhat ironic that the part of the study that always overwhelmed me most when I was participating is my favorite now, but here I am admitting that I love finding cross-references. They’re such a helpful and powerful way to let Scripture interpret itself, and see how each chapter in each of the 66 books connects and comes together to tell the same story – the story of sinful people and a sacrificial Savior.
Q: What an amazing aspect of Scripture study – seeing each part connect and come together to point to Christ! Thank you for taking the time to complete this interview!
A: Of course! I am so honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve with and for the National Bible Bee again this year, and I look forward to spending the rest of the year encouraging participants and digging into the rich treasures we find in the Word!
Written by NBB Alumna: Rachel Sheppard