Meet Alec Wennerstrom — one of the members of the 2023 National Bible Bee Alumni Service Team!
Three words that Alec’s friends use to describe him are ambitious, innovative, and visionary. He is passionate about entrepreneurial ideas, philosophical conversations, worldbuilding & multimedia storytelling, physical challenges, biblical worldview, and anything closely or remotely related to personality theory.
Here are a few facts about Alec…
- Age: 19
- Home state: Ohio
- Favorite thing about home state: There are more Bible Bee-ers in NE OH than anywhere else. Also that Ohio is the safest (i.e. boringest) state.
- Siblings: “Now listen very carefully… if we meet in person, I have NINE siblings, not NONE. The quantities sound phonetically similar but couldn’t be more different. I am the firstborn, and here are my younger kin listed in age order: Ethan, Trey, Carson, Kylie, Alanna, Chloe, Sienna, Tate, and Lia.”
- Family Pets: Chickens, goats, two cats and a dog. Planning to replace with falcons, elk, two tigers and a wyvern.
- Favorite hobbies: Videography, reading, brainstorming/writing, studying biblical philosophy, debating, practicing flips/martial arts, climbing, trail running, blacksmithing, and playing piano.
- Random facts:
- Is an ENTJ / ENTP, favorite personality type is INFJ.
- Was homeschooled for 11 years but went to Fairless High School for Senior year.
- Had extreme OCD for a year at age 11.
- Has broken the following in his sleep due to nightmare-induced violence (which God has now graciously subsided): Doorknob, Bunk bed, Double-paned window, Arm (43 stitches from punching the window)
- Is thinking of attempting to run 1 million kilometers in his lifetime. (He quips, “My original idea was 1 million miles, but if you do the math you’ll see I’ve chosen exigence over insanity.”)
- Did karate for a year and plans to soon continue in another discipline.
- Went on a mission trip to Mexico last April, and hopes to continue going on semi-short-term trips to campaign for missions through videography (including raising awareness of human trafficking).
- His love language is quality time — spending time talking about meaningful/intellectual things–or sometimes even better, conquering a physical challenge together–is the best way to connect with him as a friend. “When someone drops what they’re doing to talk or do something with me, I’m pumped (with appreciation, that is). I cannot overstate how important genuineness and openness is to me. I believe that authentic communication is the most pivotal means of developing and maintaining any relationship.”
Let’s get to know Alec a bit more!
Alec, thank you for joining us to tell us a bit about yourself and your NBB story! How many years did you participate in the National Bible Bee before becoming an alumnus? How did you first hear about the NBB, and what got you to begin participating?
- I participated for 5 years, starting at age 14 as a Junior. A couple families we were good friends with, namely the Johnsons and Beechys, got involved in 2017. We joined their host group in 2018, and I was absorbed in it from the beginning. All it took for me to dedicate my summer and fall that year to studying was the presence of comradeship and competition with friends.
Community is definitely so helpful in creating motivation for studying! Before we dive into more about your time in the NBB, tell us a little bit about yourself and your future plans now that you’ve aged out of NBB. What are you doing currently and what do you hope to do this fall?
- Over the past year–a gap year before college–I’ve taken on videography projects and accumulated experience in this career. I started working part time at Chick-fil-A 9 months ago, and have found the experience and earnings acquired there to be most valuable. This August I’ll be relocating to Lynchburg, Virginia to study physics and computing science at Liberty University, as a sort of cognitive foundation for my ‘technical education’ in grad school. My plan is to finish my LU Bachelor’s degree in 2.5 years and then move to Orange, California to study Filmmaking/Animation, Aerospace Engineering, and possibly AI, at USC. I’ll graduate in approximately 2030 (Lord willing), equipped for careers in film directing and inventing/scientific entrepreneurship.
That is such an amazing combination! It’s always so neat to see how others are using and honing their God-given talents. So if you could summarize your National Bible Bee journey into one word, what would it be? And related to that, what are some profound truths God has taught you through your time competing in the NBB and how do they currently impact your life?
- One word besides transformative? Relationship-building…both with God and with brothers and sisters in Christ. Friendships that I am certain will last a lifetime have been forged through participation in the National Bible Bee. I made four of my six best friends in our local group. I have been built up and perennially encouraged by them, and these and other friendships have influenced pivotal decisions such as which college I’ll be attending.
- One lesson God has taught me is to rejoice with those who rejoice. Only by His amazing grace, I felt 100% joy for my friends who made Semifinals and 0% disappointment for myself who didn’t. Really, it was incredible–the happiest moments of my life so far were at Nationals 2018, during the Semifinalist announcement, when my friends Titus and Hannah both advanced. I have learned to be content with the successes God has given and has not given me, knowing that I have been blessed so abundantly in the knowledge of the Lord and fellowship with believers that the panorama of my past experience truly could not be much enriched by greater competitive accomplishments in NBB. Rather, I find myself able to recall Scriptures to mind, frequently and abundantly, because of my immersion in the NBB studies over the past 5 years. My biggest takeaway is that God has been very, VERY GOOD to me beyond anything that I could hope to deserve, and has done exceedingly abundantly above all that I asked or thought…and also that He will continue to do so forevermore for those who love Him and keep (i.e. seek out, preserve, and adore) His commandments.
Praise the Lord for His faithfulness in teaching us and working in and through us using His powerful Word! On that note of seeking out His commandments, what aspect of studying God’s Word do you enjoy the most, and what is your favorite way to memorize and review Scripture?
- This may be a unique answer…I love doing random access (RA) more than anything else. It gives me a (totally righteous) sense of power when I can instantly tell a person what verse they’re reading from a span of 8 chapters. To rapidly connect and solidify references with their content, I harness a quirk of my brain which is scientifically referred to as Synesthesia. You see–in case you hadn’t realized–numbers have colors. Three is always yellow, four is always green, five is always red, etc. Going on from there, six is dark orange, seven is gray, and nine is purple. Twelve is light orange and thirteen is neon yellow, fourteen is green like four, fifteen is red like five, etc. Why? I’m not sure. Do I need to know why to use this idiosyncrasy for learning RA and CRs? No. It sure has helped though, since I’m not particularly good at memorizing hard facts on their own…but when colors and concepts involve themselves, my mind gets networking like a supercomputer. As far as memorizing goes, the three most important things that I’ve learned about memorizing are as follows:
- Do it piecewise rather than as a complete unit. Until my last year I didn’t realize how much faster I can memorize a long passage when I partition it into 3-6 verse sections. While in the formative steps, attempting to restart the passage from the beginning every run-through proves redundant and indirect. I focus individually on pieces at a size that can be covered quickly, sprint by sprint. Then, only after all the pieces are in cerebral circulation, will I go back and string those pieces together.
- Memorize out loud! As strange as it may sound, I memorized all my passages the first year by reciting them to myself in my head. Saying things out loud wasn’t natural for me, while talking in my head was. When I started to memorize out loud, not only did I see improvements in speed, but talking also became more natural for me in general! (If you’re not really a talker, I strongly recommend memorizing out loud so you become more comfortable and develop an intellectual symbiosis with your voice.)
- Years of experience doing something doesn’t necessarily translate to years of doing it right. As I mentioned, I memorized for 4 years without fully adopting the piecewise method. I also played soccer during highschool and kicked the ball wrong for 5 years before I watched a YouTube video explaining the best technique. Realize that practice does NOT make perfect if you aren’t properly informed on how to practice. (Sorry, Nike, but ‘just do it’ is not a well-rounded philosophy for honing second-mile skills or becoming masters in a craft.)
- On a macro scale, I always memorized the passages in canonical order (from Genesis to Revelation). This motivated me because I had to complete one passage (or technically one swath of passages) before moving on to the next, in an order that I could not arbitrarily change. The best passages (in my opinion–the epistles and Revelation) were saved for last. And I could always tell how far along I was and what I had done. In later years I didn’t even physically cut out my verse cards, instead choosing to keep the printed pages stapled together like a booklet. (Getting the staples through was tough, but I made it work.)
These are such fabulous practical tips! On that topic of motivation that you mentioned, how do you stay motivated to memorize Scripture?
- Honestly I’ve grown to love memorizing enough that I don’t need to actively motivate myself. I’ve replaced the benchmark of finishing the NBBC passages with other goals, namely memorizing through the epistles. I’m at Romans 12 now, and have mentally recited from chapters 1-11 many times at work or while driving. I want to be intimately familiar with these deep and beautiful chapters, and to revisit old friends from other genres like the Psalms.
It’s so amazing that as we seek to know our Lord through study and memorization of His Word He gives us a deeper love for it. This is such an encouragement to continue to ask the Lord for a love of and desire and hunger for the Scripture that we may continue to get to know Him. Now I’m wondering, since you mentioned “old friends” in other parts of Scripture, what is one of your top favorite Bible passages, and who is a Bible character you especially admire?
- My favorite book is Esther because of its winsome storytelling. But my favorite chapter duo is Psalm 18 and 19, two psalms which complement each other with differing glories– the first depicting God’s mighty, thunderous power, and the second the wondrous splendor of God’s glory revealed through His creation and His word. My life’s banner verses, dedicating every power to my Lord Jehovah Nissi, are Ps. 18:28-35. Verse 32: “It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.”
- An all-time favorite Bible character of mine is a minor character who only appears in Matthew 8 and Luke 7. It is a centurion, who sends to Jesus pleading that He heal his servant who is dear to him. Jesus offers to come and heal the servant, but the centurion says “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Luke 7:6-8). This man truly understood authority. He demonstrated responsibility and selfless love towards those under Him, as well as to God’s people (Luke 7:2-5). He was commended for his faith by Jesus himself, who said “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (Wow…imagine if Jesus were to say this about you!!) This man was the REAL DEAL. May our aspiration in life be to possess THAT KIND OF FAITH; that kind of hope, and that kind of love.
All I can say to that is Amen and Amen. Alec, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us today! To close out our discussion, what is your biggest encouragement to everyone as they study and memorize God’s Word?
- The most important effect of studying and memorizing Scripture is not measured by your performance on a test or even by the amount of knowledge you’ve acquired. God’s desire for you is that you be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). Transformation can be difficult to recognize–and this might be because it often progresses gradually, “day by day”–but if you are seeking God and receiving communication from Him, metamorphosis “into the same image” will be ever present and retrospectively undeniable. This is no insignificant change, either, as we are transformed “from glory to glory;” and this “comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). You don’t have to be the best or even to make Nationals to experience this transformation. Head knowledge certainly helps, and test ranking can to some extent measure how diligently a person has studied, but success in these rubrics should not be the end goal. Instead, it is a means to an end–or rather, to ongoing transformation into the same image as Christ.