Say hello to Hannah Kohner, a 19 year-old National Bible Bee alumna, and one of your 2022 Alumni Service Team members. Hannah participated in the National Bible Bee (NBBC) in 2019 and 2020, before aging out. She currently lives in Minnesota, where she gets to enjoy the diversity of having all four seasons, and loves the beauty that comes with each one!
Alongside serving on the Alumni Service Team (AST), Hannah works as a Digital Media Specialist for a Scripture memory ministry. She also has a passion for ministry within the church and home and is pursuing various opportunities in that context as the Lord opens doors for her. When she’s not busy working or serving, she enjoys studying and memorizing God’s Word along with various theological topics. “They often provide great food for deeper conversations I may find myself in later on,” Hannah says. When the Minnesota weather permits (and even sometimes when it doesn’t) she can be found spending as much time as possible outdoors in God’s creation. Some of Hannah’s other interests include writing, public speaking, graphic design and traveling.
Hannah’s first introduction to the National Bible Bee (NBB) was from her writing mentor at the time. Her mentor had competed in the NBBC for several years before aging out, even making it to semifinals. But since her mentor was now too old to compete, she took it upon herself to do everything she could to convince Hannah to join and ‘just give it a try’.
Hannah says, “At first I didn’t think I could do it, but after much convincing, and encouragement from my family, I decided to join my first Summer Study in 2019. Little did I know how much God would use the NBB to change my life! It has built an invaluable foundation for me in my faith, and has acted as a launchpad in my relationship with Christ. Without the previous knowledge I gained through competing in the National Bible Bee, I wouldn’t know or love my Savior as much as I do now. I learned why and how to love God’s Word and that has only impacted every area of my life as an alumna. I have also gained lifelong friendships and a great supportive community of believers of all ages to walk alongside in this journey of my faith!”
If she could summarize her NBB journey into one phrase it’d be “All things all for His glory”.
Hannah shared: “The first year I qualified in the NBBC, the phrase ‘all things’ seemed to appear everywhere. It was not only seen in multiple passages that I had memorized, but brought up in conversations, seen in quotes, sermons, and on household items. It was then that God taught me that all things could only through Him and His strength, that I could trust Him in all things. All things were to be done for His glory, not my own. Since aging out of the competition, I have seen nothing short of God’s glory being displayed in the most miraculous of ways through the NBB. From conversations backstage to witnessing Scripture flowing through the hearts of young people until it affects every area of their life, the reality is that God’s glory isn’t to be limited to some things, but pursued in all things, and that has ever been true of the NBB.”
When asked about her favorite passage of Scripture, Hannah shares why Philippians 3 is a meaningful one to her: “[It] is one of the first chapters of Scripture I memorized in its entirety. This chapter is filled with so many rich truths such as the surpassing worth of Christ compared to the worthless things of this world, the righteousness we have in Christ (not in ourselves), and eternity. I also love 2 Corinthians 5 and the encouraging message it gives to believers in regards to the promise of eternal life and our heavenly home.”
“There are multiple different ways I love to review and memorize Scripture,” Hannah shares, “But one of my favorite ways is to speak everything out loud WHILE doing rote memorization. If I’m memorizing, I’ll first read the passage over and make sure I understand what I’m reading. Then I’ll repeatedly say the line I’m memorizing over and over out loud while reading it until my mind can put it together. The same goes with reviewing! This also makes it easier for me to figure out how I want to recite the passage when it comes to reciting it to others later on. Maybe I am an auditory learner…”
Even if we already know what methods work best for us to memorize and review Scripture, it’s easy to lose sight of why we do it. “Memorizing Scripture, especially while we are young, is one of the best investments of time we could possibly make,” Hannah says, “Ecclesiastes 12:1 tells us to ‘remember our Creator in the days of our youth’ for a reason. Choosing to hide God’s Word in your heart as a young person is like storing up tools in a toolbelt for when you’ll need them or sharpening your sword for the day of battle. Scripture has the power to change us when we’re young, and we can carry its truths into our adulthood when we face ‘the days of trouble’. Knowing God’s Word as a young person guards us against youthful lusts and temptations. It strengthens us for the race of faith when the world so strongly pulls for our time and when it demands our attention and our conformity to its worldviews.”
While memorizing Scripture is powerful and impactful, it is also difficult, and it’s easy to lose motivation. Here are some things Hannah has learned about staying motivated: “It doesn’t often take much to find ourselves in those seasons of dryness when it comes to Scripture memorization. One of the best ways to gain motivation is to find your motive. In times when I lack motivation, I shift my focus upon why I am memorizing to begin with. Am I doing it to get a ranking, perform in front of a friend, or to know God and seek to love Him more through His Word? Recognizing the purpose behind why you are doing what you are will either motivate you or identify the lack of motivation. Pray for the Lord to give you the correct mindset when it comes to memorizing His Word and He will! A more practical tip I have found helpful for staying motivated to memorize Scripture is finding a friend or two to hold me accountable and memorize with me throughout the week. Checking in and sometimes committing to memorizing together each day is a huge encouragement!”
Hannah’s final word of encouragement to participants is this: “God is being glorified in this, and that’s all that matters! As often as you may hear the words ‘It’s just a competition’ or ‘It’s just a medal’, it’s true. Though it was easy for my focus to be upon the excitement of competing while in the NBB, since aging out I can say that the greatest treasure I gained from my years of studying God’s Word is just that – God’s Word! Do this for Christ and for the glory of His name. The more you seek to know Christ, the more you will love Him and be like Him, and I promise that is the greatest treasure you could ever gain.”