By Holly Jo Linzay
PINEVILLE (LBM) – It is all about the Word for the youth who took part in the State Bible Drill competition, April 28, at the First Baptist Church in Pineville.
“I didn’t take reading the Bible very seriously until I started competing in Bible Drill. But being in the Bible Drill has helped me to hide the Word of God in my heart,” Hannah James said. She is a ninth-grade homeschool student from Fellowship Baptist Church who attended the State Tournament for Youth and High School Bible Drill & Speakers’ Tournament for the sixth time.
“But learning the Scripture has made a huge impact in my life. Bible Drill is not just about memorizing Scripture or the competition. It’s about life. Learning Scripture has helped me to witness and to live for God,” James, the first-place winner in the 9th grade Drill-off, added.
Participants in the Bible Drills and Speakers’ Tournaments have gone through two other levels of competition, church and district, before reaching the state events.
Bible Drill is part of a discipleship program designed to assist youth in developing useful skills and knowledge of the Bible. They must know the books of the Bible; find common Scripture references; know different approaches to the plan of salvation; and, be able to recall the scriptural foundations about key beliefs and doctrinal convictions.
Through the years, Steve Maltempi, youth ministry strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, said he has seen tremendous spiritual growth in the lives of the youth who have participated in the State Bible Drill and Speakers’ Tournament.
“God’s Word will not return void,” Maltempi said, referring to Isaiah 55:11. “I urge parents to get this started early. The Bible drill can help build a foundation that they will live by from this point forward.”
Maltempi recalled a conversation with a former participant who told him how he was sitting in a college class and recalled a Scripture that allowed him to recognize some false statements his instructor was making.
“The student recognized very quickly the instructor was not speaking the truth. He jotted down on one side of his notebook what the professor was saying, and then on the other side of his notebook, he wrote what the Scripture says,” Maltempti said.
During the assembly, a group of students were awarded gold medals for competing in the State Bible Drill for nine years, from the fourth grade through the 12th grade. It is a total commitment for most students who get involved, Maltempi added, a commitment “that builds their faith.”
Emma Groom, a senior student from First Baptist, Slidell, was one of the recipients of the Nine Year Gold Medals.
“It’s been an amazing experience to participate in the Bible Drills. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. This experience has helped me grow in my relationship with God, and has helped me make friends everywhere,” Groom said, adding, “I get asked about things all the time at school, and Scripture just pops into my head that apply to my friends’ situations. I don’t have to say I need to look it up. I know where it is.”
Sam Stogner, a ninth grader from the First Baptist Church in Covington, said this year was his fifth time to compete in the Bible Drill, and he plans to be committed all the way through his senior year.
“Because of the Bible Drill, I am stronger in the Word, and if I ever must defend my faith, I’ll have the tools to do it,” Stogner said.
Noah Lyle, who is in the 10th grade and a homeschooled student from Woodlawn Baptist Church, Baton Rouge echoed these sentiments.
“It’s been challenging to learn the Scripture. It’s never been about the competition or medals. I’ll use these Bible verses for the rest of my life,” Lyle said.
Ben LaRavia, a 10-year-old fourth grader from the First Baptist Church in Kilbourne, participated in the children’s Bible Drill and bubbled with enthusiasm when asked to share his thoughts.
“I’m excited to be learning God’s Word. I’m inspired by it. My family always worships God, and I always want to follow the Word of Jesus,” LaRavia said.
His mother, Amy LaRavia, said she is thrilled her son will be getting a firm foundation in the Word of God. “Ben is my little preacher,” she said with a big grin on her face.
About 180 students competed in the State Tournament for Youth and High School Bible Drill & Speakers’ Tournament. Daniel Cooper, from FBC Covington, won first place in the 10th grade Speakers’ Tournament. Cooper, who chose as his topic, “Too Busy to Serve the Lord,” will represent Louisiana Baptists at the National Youth Speakers’ Tournament.
Bible Drill coach Jane Copp, from FBC Covington, believes the tournament prepares the students for life.
“Preparing for the speakers’ tournament is a tough process from beginning to the end, but so worthwhile. At the end, they have grown so much spiritually,” Copp, with tears glistening in her eyes, said.
Winners for the Youth Bible Drill include (participants competed in groups of 12 or fewer):
7th Grade (2 groups)
1st Place: Leah Amie, Woodlawn, Baton Rouge; 2nd Place: Abigail Manning, FBC, Lafayette;
1st Place: Laynie Atwood, Kingsville, Pineville; 2nd Place: Chase Haag, Kingsville, Pineville.
8th Grade (3 groups)
1st Place: Mary Copeland, FBC, Gonzales; 2nd Place: Caitlyn Beebe, Woodlawn, Baton Rouge;
1st Place: Thomas Garbarino, FBC, Lafayette; 2nd Place: Carter Manning, Church Acadiana, Youngsville;
1st Place: Emily Nevels, FBC, Oak Grove; 2nd Place: Haven Norman, FBC, Kilbourne.
9th Grade (2 groups)
1st Place: Ellis Hathaway, FBC, Covington; 2nd Place (tie): Emeline Soileau, FBC, Covington; 2nd Place (tie): Rebecca Stennett, FBC, Covington
1st Place: Hannah James, Fellowship, Greenwell Springs; 2nd Place: Josh Pugh, Ascension, Gonzales.
A “Drill-Off” was held, composed of the top 9 participants to determine the overall winner — which added Logan Womack, East Winnfield, Winnfield; Carter Byrd, FBC, Amite; Lydia Bearry, Woodlawn, Baton Rouge; and Sam Stogner, FBC, Covington to the five 1st and 2nd Place winners in the two groups.
The champion was Hannah James, Fellowship, Greenwell Springs, and she will represent Louisiana Baptists at the National Youth Bible Drill Tournament.
Overall Champion: Jinny Schober, Heritage, Shreveport.
The three winners with the highest overall scores earned scholarships to Louisiana College:
1st Place: Dylan Hill, Kilbourne ($4,500 annual LC scholarship); 2nd Place: Hannah Copeland, FBC, Gonzales ($3,500 annual scholarship); 3rd Place: Hannah Philips, Fellowship, Greenwell Springs ($2,500 annual LC scholarship).
Overall Champion (state division): Hunter Thomas, Dunn, Dunn;
Overall Champion (national division): Joshua Wilhelm, FBC, Gonzales.
Youth Speakers’ Tournament
The winners of the Youth Speakers’ Tournament include:
10th Grade: Daniel Cooper, FBC, Covington;
11th Grade: Cathryn Stennett, FBC, Covington (awarded $4,500 annual LC scholarship);
12th Grade: Joshua Singletary, FBC, Covington.