BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–“Attention. Present Bible. Start.” Samford University’s Reid Chapel in Birmingham, Ala., was quiet as the students bowed over their Bible, fingers nimbly turning pages as they strived to beat the 10-second time limit.
National Bible Drill winner Michelle Hopkins, a member of Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., competed against three other state high school Bible Drill winners June 9 to take the prize in the fourth annual National Youth Bible Drill & Speakers Tournament. The Bible Drill is a yearly competition in which contestants compete to see who can find a specific biblical passage in the shortest time.
Twenty-four participants competed in three drills — the high school drill, the youth Bible Drill and the Speakers Tournament.
The winners for the other competitions were Shelby Brown of Kentucky in the youth Bible Drill and Jessica Jones of Texas in the Speakers Tournament.
For Hopkins, competing in the national drill was fun.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” she said.
Joining Hopkins was Essence Ambers of Winewood Baptist Church, in Birmingham, who competed in the Speakers Tournament, and Miranda Ward of Nazareth Baptist Church in Rainsville, Ala., who competed in the youth Bible Drill.
Ward, who was one of nine participants overall to attain a perfect score, said she felt privileged to compete in the national drill.
This year’s drill at Samford featured participants from 10 Baptist state conventions.
Nine students participated in the Speaker’s Tournament, 11 in the youth Bible Drill and four in the high school Bible Drill.
Sonya Tucker, an associate in the office of discipleship and family ministries of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said this was the first year for the high school drill to be held in the national competition.
“[The high school drill] is a work in progress, but we feel really good about the four states that sent winners,” Tucker said.
The national Bible Drill is sponsored by a loose organization of several Baptist conventions in the Southeast, known informally as the Southeastern discipleship state workers group.
It formed when LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention turned sponsorship of the Bible Drill program over to individual state conventions.
The group members began publishing the materials for their own drills to ensure that Bible Drills would continue in their states.
Tucker said the group is centered in the Southeast because the Bible Drill program tends to be strongest in the older and larger conventions.
It includes Baptist workers whose job is working with youth, children or Bible Drills on the state level, she said. Currently about 10 to 12 conventions participate, although all state conventions are invited to join.
The group decided four years ago to begin holding a national drill in which the winners of the state drills could compete.
“It gives the kids … a great opportunity to not only participate but also see something of the rest of the United States,” Tucker said.
Not only did Alabamians compete in and host the national drill, they also judged the drills this year. Seven seasoned Bible Drill and Speakers Tournament judges and one editor from Student Life, a Birmingham-based organization for youth, were chosen to judge the drillers and speakers.
Those in the Speakers Tournament have five to seven minutes to deliver a speech on an assigned topic. Diana Griggs, a ministry assistant in the SBOM’s discipleship office, said that this year the speakers all had different topics.
Ambers spoke on “A firm foundation in a shaky world,” using imagery of recent natural and social disasters to convey the need for God in today’s world.
“It has to be one of the most memorable competitions I’ve ever been in,” Ambers said of her experience.
Hopkins could relate to Ambers’ topic through this competition.
“I get really nervous when I do Bible Drill, and I think it’s a reminder to me to always rely on God,” she said.
Lindsay Morrison of The Alabama Baptist contributed to this report.