Janese Hurst is a former National Bible Bee (NBB) contestant who hails from Pennsylvania, and she is now on the 2022 Alumni Service Team. Here’s a few quick facts to get to know her better.
- Age: 19
- Home State: Pennsylvania (Where she lives has some beautiful views as well!)
- Siblings: 10 (She is also the oldest!)
- Pet Rabbits: ~20
- First year of competing in the National Bible Bee (NBB): 2017
- Final year of competing in the NBB: 2020
- Favorite hobbies: Reading, piano and violin, hiking, volleyball, games with siblings, and experimenting in the kitchen.
- Favorite book or passage of the Bible: Varies, but some favorites include Hebrews 12:5-11 and Psalm 19
- Random facts: Once went dumpster diving for books, and recently hiked 44 miles of the Appalachian Trail in a day!
Now for a special Q+A with Janese:
Question: So tell us a little about yourself.
Answer: My name is Janese Hurst, I am 19 years old, and I’m from Pennsylvania.
Q: That’s really cool! What are some of your favorite things about living in Pennsylvania?
A: I love getting to experience all four seasons, even if it’s occasionally annoying to have to have separate wardrobes for each season. Right now spring is in full swing and everything is fresh and green and bright and blooming. Another thing I love about where I live is that we’re nestled in the valley between two mountains, so we have lots of beautiful views if you’re willing to do a little hiking.
Q: That is neat! What are you currently involved in besides the National Bible Bee Alumni Service Team?
A: Besides serving on the AST, I’m doing college online, and working part-time, and once the Summer Study starts I’ll also be hosting our local group.
Q: Sounds like you’ve got quite a bit going on! Since you’re part of the National Bible Bee Alumni Service Team (AST), I was wondering how you first got involved with NBB in the first place?
A: I initially heard about the National Bible Bee several years ago, but I was so intimidated by the little bit of the competition I watched that I didn’t even consider doing it. A few years later, friends of mine were participating, and kept telling me how much the National Bible Bee impacted their lives and grew them in their walk with the Lord. They invited me to participate with them and I decided to try it out, even though I didn’t expect to be able to finish the study because I thought it was far too difficult. After the first year, I was hooked, and I never considered not participating after that.
Q: Wow, that sounds very impactful. Since the NBB is all about studying the Bible, what is your favorite book or passage in the Bible?
A: My favorite Bible verse or passage changes regularly depending on what I’m reading/studying at the moment and how God has been using it in my life. The passage that I’ve been dwelling on lately is Hebrews 12:5-11, because God has been showing me how it applies to my life, and it is absolutely true. Another passage that I’ve loved ever since I first memorized it is Psalm 19. It’s such a beautiful, worshipful, poetic celebration of God’s works in nature, and of the power of His Word.
Q: That’s awesome! I agree that Psalm 19 is a really beautiful passage of Scripture. While on the subject of favorites, do you have any favorite Bible characters?
A: One of my all time favorite Bible characters is Queen Esther, because I really admire the way she trusted in God and did what was right even when everything around her seemed to be against her. God used her willingness to risk her own life to save her people. I love her example of courage, willingness to lay down her life, and her graciousness in unfavorable circumstances.
Q: Yeah! Courage to stand up for God is one thing that people really need in this day and age, and memorizing and studying God’s Word is also an essential thing to grow our faith in God so that we can have that boldness to stand for the truth. The NBB is a great way to get involved in studying God’s Word with others, but sometimes if you are new to studying God’s Word, it can be intimidating. What would you say to someone who is doing the NBB for the first time?
A: Don’t be overwhelmed by focusing on doing everything “right” or getting a certain score. Instead, focus on understanding and learning to love the Word, and more importantly, the God who gave us the Word so that we can know and love Him. Ultimately the number of verses you memorize, the cross-references you study, the facts you learn, and your rank on the test mean nothing if they don’t point you to a greater thing. And that greater thing is the God who created you, loves you, and who gave Himself to redeem you. The best way to learn to know Him and love Him is by spending time in His Word, learning about who He is, and what He’s done.
Q: Why would you encourage a young person to spend lots of time studying and memorizing God’s Word? It can be a lot of work, especially when doing the National Bible Bee Competition.
A: While I was competing, Alumni frequently told me things like “You’ll never regret the time you spend in God’s Word”, or “This will shape you for the rest of your life”. I would have said that I agreed with them, but because I hadn’t personally experienced it, it seemed like an abstract concept and part of me always thought “Yeah, of course. They all say that because it’s what everyone expects them to say”. As I got older my perspective matured somewhat. Now, I’m on the wrong side of 18, and officially one of the Alumni, and guess what I’ve discovered? They actually meant exactly what they said! I’m so grateful for every single minute I spent in the Word – the times I gave up social events to memorize, the times I got up at 5 a.m. to study, the times I sacrificed my free time to spend in the Word – every. single. minute. I can see more clearly now, and I see how God used His Word to change my heart little by little and sanctify me. I see now how powerful the Word is in the struggles and temptations of life. I see how eternal the benefits of the Word are. I can see how much it deepened my walk with the Lord. I can see how much God is glorified through His Word. And my only regret is that I didn’t spend more time in the Word and enjoy that season more while I had the opportunity to spend the majority of my time in the Word. That is my encouragement to you – don’t take this time for granted and realize that you are investing your time into something that will matter for all of eternity.
Q: Wow. If you had to sum up your journey as a NBB contestant what one word would you use?
A: I think I would summarize it in the word “transformative”. It grew me so much in my walk with the Lord, that’s it’s hard to imagine where I’d be without it. At the time, I couldn’t see this clearly, but now in retrospect I can see how God changed my heart in so many ways, and how the rest of my life will be different because of the time I spent in the Word. It also provided me with close friendships that I am incredibly grateful for. The people you are friends with deeply impact the kind of person you will become. God has given me friends who have encouraged me to know and love Him more, and I can see how He has used and is using them to challenge and encourage me in my walk with Him.
Q: That’s wonderful. Any final word of encouragement you would like to share with anyone studying the Bible?
A: I pray that as you study the Word, it fixes your gaze on Jesus, the One of whom, and through whom, and for whom are all things. May you grow in the knowledge of Him, and be transformed into His image by the power of His Word and His Spirit.
Q: Amen. Thank you for your time, Janese!
A: Yes, of course! I’m beyond thrilled to be able to serve and encourage current participants in the same way others blessed me while I was participating!
Written by NBB Alumnus: William Saunders