By Holly Jo Linzay, Regional Reporter
PINEVILLE – Imagine if you only had just one month to live. Would you spend the time to please yourself or make a lasting impact after you have gone?
Maddi Stennett, a 17-year-old junior from First Baptist Church, Covington, posed the question in her speech during the State Youth & High School Bible Drill and Speakers’ Tournament April 29 at First Baptist Church, Pineville.
Stennett, who placed first in the 11th-grade competition, received a $4,500 annual college scholarship. Although it was her first year to compete in the tournament, Stennett said the experience has impacted her life by inspiring her to share her faith in Christ more openly.
“I want to share my faith with an urgency now,” Stennett said, adding that the months of preparation for the tournament made her grow spiritually.
“It made me think in a way that I don’t normally think. I think, ‘Is my life lining up to what I’m telling people?’ I can’t tell people about Jesus, without living for Him,” she added.
“One month to live” was one of 15 different topics participants in the Speakers’ Tournament could select to prepare a 4 to 6 minute speech. About 360 children and youth competed in the annual State Bible Drill, which was held at three different sites including Temple Baptist Church, Ruston, FBC Covington and FBC Pineville.
The participants in the Bible drills and Speakers’ Tournaments go through a three-step process which begins in the church before moving on to the district level and then finally advancing to the state level.
The Bible Drill competition is part of a discipleship program designed to assist youth in developing useful skills and knowledge of the Bible.
During the tournament, youth compete in Bible Drills that test their knowledge in the books of the Bible, scripture references, different approaches to the plan of salvation and scripture references on basic beliefs and doctrinal convictions.
Carson Porter, a senior, has competed for the last nine years in the Bible Drill tournament. The experience has helped shape his life, Porter said.
“At first, I competed because my mom made me. Then I enjoyed winning the medals. But then, I didn’t care about competing or the gold medals,” Porter said. “I started to realize it was about knowing scripture and being prepared. I know key verses in the Bible, and I know them instantly. It’s changed my life.
“I’m always ready to share about Jesus,” Porter said, adding he was able to implement his training on a recent mission trip to Costa Rica.
Gina Nielsen, a 14-year-old from Dunn Baptist Church, echoed his sentiments. “Hiding His word in your heart will help you live for Christ. And you’ll have it there in your heart when you need it, even later in life,” Nielsen said.
Ninth-grader Alisa Richardson, from First Baptist Church, Montgomery, has competed in the Bible Drill tournament for the last three years. She said memorizing scriptures and key verses has intensified her faith.
“It’s enabled me to apply God’s word to real life. In school, you are always getting judged. But I’ll just think about Luke 6:37, and it brings me happiness,” Richardson added.
FBC DeRidder Bible Drill coach Janet Reichley practices with her youth group once a week. “I believe the Bible drill preparations can give them the foundation they will need for the rest of their lives.”
Pineville’s Jessica Johnson agreed, and said she has seen the difference the Bible Drill tournaments have made in her children’s lives.
“The Scripture gets into their hearts and nourishes their souls. There is nothing better for children to read and learn than the word of God. And the Bible Drill tournament is just a big blessing,” she said.
In the 12th Grade Speakers’ Tournament, Steven Peacock, FBC Covington, was chosen to represent Louisiana Baptist at the National Youth Bible Drill Tournament in Georgia.
Other winners for the Youth Bible Drill include:
7th Grade Bible Drill – There were six people recognized as winners in two 7th grade groups: Milain Marcel – Ascension, Gonzales; Kellan Hall – Beulah, Oak Grove; Cameron Lindsay – Woodlawn, Baton Rouge; Thomas Garbarino – FBC, Lafayette; Emily Nevels – FBC, Oak Grove; and Shane Rowe – FBC, Quitman.
8th Grade Bible Drill – There were four people recognized as winners in three 8th grade groups: Hannah James- Fellowship, Greenwell Springs; Josh Pugh – Ascension, Gonzales; Ellis Hathaway – FBC, Covington; Mollie Grubbs – Grace Memorial, Slidell.
9th Grade Bible Drill – The first and second place winners of each of the two 9th grade Bible Drill groups were: Florence Curaza – FBC, Quitman; Abby Pruitt – Fellowship, Greenwell Springs; Thomas Davis – Woodlawn, Baton Rouge; Anna Starnes – FBC, Gonzales.
9th Grade Bible Drill – A “Drill-Off” was held, composed of 11 of the 9th grade participants with the highest overall scores to determine the overall winner. The Drill-Off participants were: Thomas Davis – Woodlawn, Baton Rouge; Florence Curaza – FBC, Quitman; Anna Starnes – FBC, Gonzales; Abby Pruitt – Fellowship, Greenwell Springs; Jinny Schober – Heritage, Shreveport; Tristen Bueche – Amite, Denham Springs; Alisa Richardson – FBC, Montogomery; Ethan Groom – FBC, Slidell; Hayden Alsept – Fellowship, Greenwell Springs; Liliana Talazac – FBC, Covington; Logan Davis – Woodlawn, Baton Rouge.
9th Grade Drill Off Winner – Abby Pruit – Fellowship, Greenwell Springs was chosen to represent Louisiana Baptist at the National Youth Bible Drill Tournament.
10th Grade Bible Drill – The overall winner of the 10th grade Bible Drill groups was Hannah Copeland – FBC, Gonzales.
11th Grade Bible Drill – The three 11th grade winners with the highest overall scores, were awarded scholarships to Louisiana College. They were:
First Place: Joshua Wilhem – FBC, Gonzales received a $4,500.00/year scholarship.
Second Place: Hunter Thomas – Dunn, Dunn received a $3,500.00/year scholarship.
Third Place: Haley Thiels – Kingsville, Pineville received a $2,500.00/year scholarship.
12th Grade High School Bible Drill – The overall winner of the 12th grade was Abby Ainsworth – FBC, Kilbourne.
12th Grade National Bible Drill – The overall winner of the 12th grade was Kendra Wilson – FBC, Lafayette.