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Youth energized by reading Bible from cover to cover

LEESBURG, Fla. (BP)–It seemed like an impossible goal — reading the entire Bible aloud in four days.
Wondering how long it would take to read the Bible through non-stop, David Burton, challenged students at Florida Baptists’ Super Summer week, June 14-18, to a 24-hour, around-the-clock Bible reading. Burton is the Florida Baptist Convention’s personal evangelism director.
Beginning with Genesis 1:1 on Monday afternoon, several of the 679 students and 182 adult sponsors who were gathered at Lake Yale Baptist Assembly near Leesburg, Fla., signed up for 20-minute continuous increments of Scripture reading in the camp’s prayer room.
One by one the students came, at all hours of the day and night, to resume reading where the previous reader had left off. As students finished voicing a section of Scripture, they signed their names at the point they stopped reading.
Thomas Watts from First Baptist Church, Jacksonville Beach, came running into the week’s final worship service, excitedly waving in the air the same Bible that Burton had held up as he issued the challenge on Monday afternoon.
“I’ve finished it,” Watts said. “I’ve just finished reading the last chapter in Revelation. We’ve read through the Bible.”
At that moment, Missions USA, a drama/singing group from the North American Mission Board, was performing a drama to the song “He Is,” which assigns a character description to God from every book in the Bible. When Burton reiterated to the students that they had met their goal of reading the Bible from cover to cover, they stood to their feet and cheered for several minutes.
“We have done hell an injustice,” Burton told the youth. “All of hell is calling for damage control because we’ve done something that’s never been done at Super Summer before, and that a lot of churches and youth groups have never done.”
He encouraged the students to take their enthusiasm for reading God’s Word home with them so they could experience God moving in their lives on a daily basis.
Worship leader Jeff Hessinger, who organized the Scripture-reading effort, closed the service by reading, with tear-filled eyes, the last words of the New Testament, beginning with Revelation 22:7: “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Throughout the week, students told Hessinger of how God spoke to them through various passages. “God just used the speaking of his Word in a great way,” he said. “He saw the sacrifice of many of his people and their passion to read his Word.”
One of the testimonies shared during the week came from Richard Velten of Park Avenue Baptist Church in Titusville. He posted the following reflection on the wall of the sanctuary after fellow church member Heather Magnuson read a passage of Scripture: “As she walked around the room reading the Bible, God’s presence was in the room. Angels surrounded, cheering us on, as we all listened while she strived to finish. Then, we could start over.”
Chris Wellman, from Palm Springs Baptist Church in Lake Worth, made note of the feeling of freedom during the week’s praise and worship times. “We weren’t restricted to stay right where we were,” he said. “We had the freedom to express what was in our hearts. That’s how worship is supposed to be — from the heart.”
Wellman said conference theme, “Shock the Culture,” drove home to him the fact that Satan loves it when Christians “ride the fence, because he doesn’t have anything to worry about.”
“But if we’re reckless for Christ, Satan is going to try to prevent you from what you are trying to do.”
Rather than be discouraged by this, Wellman said, believers should “be more willing to love, serve and show that the love of Christ can conquer all.”
During the 10th annual Super Summer week, 348 people made spiritual decisions: 76 professions of faith, 192 rededications, 10 commitments to vocational Christian service, 11 requests for counseling and 59 for specific prayer needs.
The students also gave a love offering for missions totaling $1,112.33. The offering will help fund migrant ministries coordinated through the Florida Baptist Convention’s church and community ministries department.
During team leader training the weekend before the event, five adults made professions of faith, including Jennifer Dale of First Baptist Church, Orange Park.
Dale had grown up in church, but “didn’t feel the Lord in my life,” she said. “I had mere knowledge of him but had not surrendered and committed my life to him.
“Now, singing ‘I’m saved, saved, wonderfully saved’ has a whole new meaning,” Dale said. “It’s like a conversation between me and God. I found out that I really didn’t know what worship was until I knew Who I was worshipping.”

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  • Kristi Hodge