Meet Sam Martin, a 19-year-old National Bible Bee (NBB) Alumnus who lives in Davenport, Iowa with his parents and two younger brothers. He also has twin older sisters; one is married and lives in Ohio with her husband and three children (Sam is a verified Favorite Uncle); the other just moved to Washington state for a three month internship with a chiropractor there. A fun fact about Sam’s home city: Davenport was the site of the first railroad bridge to cross the Mississippi River (it opened in 1856). This bridge became a point of contention in a lawsuit between the Rock Island Railroad company and a Mississippi River steamboat operation. Representing the railroad company (and winning the case) was a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln, who would eventually become the president of the United States.
Some miscellaneous “fun facts” about Sam:
- He works part-time at a local ice cream shop
- He is certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and is pursuing a career as a firefighter
- He is courting a young lady named Hannah, whom he met partly through the National Bible Bee
- Although he’s not in school any more, Sam’s favorite academic subject is biology (generic) and human anatomy and physiology (specific)
If you haven’t guessed yet, Sam is something of a railroad enthusiast. He also likes sports of all kinds, chess, and reading books (Charles Dickens and C.S. Lewis being two of his favorite authors). However, Sam says “My very favorite thing to do is to spend time with people, especially my friends from the National Bible Bee.”
Sam’s first time participating was in 2011, at eight years old. Since then, he has participated eight times and qualified for the National Bible Bee Competition (NBBC) seven times. He initially participated in the NBB because his older sisters were doing it; they found out about it through an ad that his mom saw in a magazine. His sisters were somewhat skeptical at first, but after they attended the NBBC in 2010, they were totally sold on it. Clearly, they got Sam on board as well.
After participating for so long, Sam shares how the NBB impacted his life: “My time participating in the National Bible Bee has been one of the most formative events in my life. Over the years, I have had few, if any, dramatic moments of revelation. Rather, the slow and often tedious work of studying the Bible has produced growth in my character over time. God used the time I spent memorizing passages, learning so many Greek and Hebrew words, and studying endless numbers of cross-references to draw me closer to Him. So, if you’re competing in the National Bible Bee for the first time, or if you feel like the study has not benefited you, don’t get discouraged! God loves to work in ways that are small, slow, and insignificant to make us like Him. He may be doing that in you, even if your study does not feel like anything special.”
When asked what his favorite passage of the Bible is, Sam says “If I were to choose… it would probably be Romans chapters 5-9. This section of Scripture is an excellent summary of our standing with God before Christ saved us and after, and what changed in between. While we were enemies of God, God Himself came and died to reconcile us to Him! This purchase that He accomplished is so complete that even life, death, afflictions, and powers human and angelic, cannot possibly separate us from His love.”
Over years of participating, Sam had the opportunity to memorize large amounts of Scripture. Answering a question about why and how he memorizes, Sam shares: “I think that one of the greatest benefits of participating in the National Bible Bee is the Scripture that you memorize. Every word in the Bible is pure truth. In a world with so much subjectivity, relativism, and uncertainty, I find it a comfort to remember the Scriptures I have memorized and know for sure that they are truth. However, memorizing large amounts of Scripture can be a daunting task. People have suggested many different helpful strategies to memorize verses: some learn them to music, some create mental pictures associated with the passage, and others simply repeat it over and over. You can choose whichever approach works for you. However, no matter which one you decide on, here are two things I would recommend: for one, start memorizing early and schedule how much you will do each day. Every day should have a very manageable amount.
“When I was preparing for the NBBC, I started memorizing as soon as the passages were released and planned to finish about one month before the competition. Also, I apportioned the passages by number of cards rather than number of verses, as that is a more accurate reflection of the total amount of material. So, for instance, I might memorize 3 cards per weekday until I finished all the passages. The second thing I would recommend is that you put each passage in a schedule to be reviewed as soon as you have it memorized. When you first learn a passage, it’s a good idea to review it at least once a day; later, once you know it well, you might review it every three days. Oh, and one last thing: don’t forget to think about the words as you memorize and review them! I sometimes find myself on autopilot when reviewing Scripture, and then I miss out on what it has to tell me. You will come to know God much better if you think about the verse as you recite each one.”
“I’m really excited for the rest of the study this year! Hopefully I will see some of you at the National Bible Bee Competition this fall. Keep on, the slow, tedious work is for your benefit!”
Compiled by NBB Alumna: Janese Hurst