Bible Quiz through the eyes of…Jenni Young

So here I am, figuring out how in the world to even start in the telling of how Bible Quiz has impacted my life. For me, it’s almost like asking how breathing has impacted my life. I was not your normal quizzer. This isn’t because I had some outrageous skill level (there have always been quizzers more talented) or because learning the verses made me super spiritual (I am grateful to God daily for His grace); it’s because I grew up as the daughter of a great pioneer of Bible Quiz in the state of Florida. It wasn’t ever an activity on my calendar. It was instead part of my life. It invaded my home where, from the time I was five or six, there was a constant stream of high school students quoting verses. It invaded my memory as I walked around our swimming pool, diagramming sentences in my head to be able to remember my verses (weird, I know, but you have your methods, too). It invaded my family’s motor home, where students of all ages piled in to go to whatever the next competition was. It invaded my emotions as my three greatest crushes prior to my husband were all guys I met through Bible Quiz. My closest friends were teammates and opponents, my role models were older quizzers, my family’s dinner guests were often other quizzing families… and now countless competitions, several photo albums, many years, and over three thousand verses later, I am supposed to figure out a manageable something to tell you that is hopefully interesting and inspiring, and it makes my head spin. So I thought about it and decided to cover the three aspects of quizzing that I most easily return to, even though I am fifteen years out of high school. They are my dad, the relationships I built, and the verses I learned.

Paul West taught me everything I knew about Bible Quizzing (well, Matt and my mom helped, of course). He did this for a lot of people, before my time and after, and he was really good at it. He came up with methods to help us quote our verses until we could recite them with zero hesitation. He spent time teaching us strategies that would help us win. And every once in awhile, he would halt the comfortable chaos of everyone spread out across the room quoting verses to each other to tell us why a certain verse in the section inspired him. The first was done with great forcefulness, the second with great determination, and the third with great passion and usually a tear or two in his eyes. And in the process of doing these three things, he taught me things that have impacted my life profoundly. He taught us to value winning (and his teams were always good), but I still felt like he was most proud of us when we remembered other people’s names or treated each other kindly. He drove it home to us regularly that we would not be a winning team if we tried to quiz against the other teams (anyone can get up faster), but we had to quiz against the quizmaster by learning his cadence and keeping our focus on him. Now, years later, I sometimes hear God’s voice in my dad’s, reminding me that I will never follow Him properly by trying to keep up with the people around me but that I must look at Him with great focus, learning His cadence. My dad was also famous for saying that if we didn’t let God’s Word drop from our head down to our heart, we might as well be memorizing Shakespeare. This challenged me to think about the words that I could recite with zero hesitation and drove me to understand them.

I think I was in fifth grade when I started to write letters to a bunch of girls I met at a Bible Quiz competition in Tennessee. They were from Texas, and over the years my list of pen pals expanded to California, Virginia, Wisconsin, South Carolina, New York, and the list goes on. If you’re reading this, then you are likely involved in Bible Quiz in some way, so you probably understand the beauty of strategy (which I already talked about) and the beauty of knowing verses (which I’m going to talk about), but I always felt like the people from the other teams were really the amazing jewel that most people passed right over. Trust me – the kids on the other teams who you are praying to beat – they are usually (not always, but usually) every bit as cool as the kids on your team. They have their own inside jokes, their own teams that if pressed, they’d have to admit they didn’t like, their own traditions and methods… and they are worth getting to know. You might go to college with some of them (I did), you might go visit some of them and learn about different cultures right here in your own country (I did), and you might have some of the most inspiring conversations of your high school career with some of them (I did). My good friend Mandy from Wisconsin came to visit me in high school and got a trip to Disney World out of it. Then I went to visit her and got a night with a bunch of cool girls in a hunting cabin out of it (I think I got the better end of that deal). And during AACS competition my senior year of high school, the last question of a quiz determined which team would make it to the finals. I jumped, but Tami from California beat me. She answered the question right, which meant that we got fourth place (a gross disappointment for me), and instead of cheering, she turned and looked right at me, eyes full of tears, and said, “I’m so sorry.” She was awesome. I have no idea where my old trophies are from the years we won, but I will never, ever forget that moment from the year we lost. Your life will be richer if you get to know the people you’re quizzing against.

Finally, I am fifteen years out of high school, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the Scripture that I have tucked away in my brain and the knowledge it has given me of the Bible as a whole… because it wasn’t Shakespeare I was memorizing; it was the very Word of God, and it was and is full of Life, and its beauty has grown – not faded – over the years. When I think of the book of John, I think of the Savior who came for me and who evoked such wonder in His followers that one of them supposed that the world itself could not contain the books that should be written about Him. When I think of Acts, I am inspired by the stories of the pioneers of Christian faith. First Corinthians gives me page after page of answers to some of my doctrinal questions, and Second Corinthians gives me page after page of hope for my struggles. Galatians fills me with gratitude for the freedom Jesus died for me to have, Ephesians reminds me how to live my life on a daily basis, Philippians challenges me to live joyfully, contented, and with unity, and Colossians gives me the most beautiful word-picture of Christ that I know. Second Timothy gives me insight into the person who wrote so much of the New Testament, Titus gives me practical instruction, and Philemon keeps me running to the Master of second chances. First John makes me weep when I contemplate my Advocate with the Father, the One who is also the Propitiation for my sins. Second John and Third John both help me to understand my relationship with God in light of my children’s relationship with me. And Jude causes me to appreciate the strength that God gives. I cannot imagine life without these verses or these concepts. I love God’s Word. I love that it lives in me.

And this barely scratches the surface of what Bible Quiz has meant to me, but it is already way too long, and you have verses to memorize, so you shouldn’t be reading it anyway. So I will end by encouraging you the way my dad encouraged me – to show kindness to the people you come across and to let the Life-giving words that you’re memorizing sink beyond your head and down into your heart. Thank you for letting me share.

Jenni “West” Young
The Master’s Academy
Class of 1996
The Bible Quiz through the Eyes Series

Comments 9

  1. Wow…it is 4:21 AM….I know…spent too long baking…..and how I clicked to this while winding down, I will never know. Yes I do…God’s appointed time. God’s appointed reading material. What a very thought provoking message you have here, Jenni! As I was reading (and recalling those great years)….I kept hearing FOFE-BOBE over and over in my head!
    Shakespeare is great, but there is nothing like The Word of God…..what an investment your dad made in the lives of so many kids….mine included! Thanks for your beautiful words of widsom.

  2. Roughly motivational piece you give rise to at this juncture. Seems to facilitate lots of relationships. Enjoyed and benefited from it. Cheers and credit!

  3. I simply want to mention that I’m newbie to blogging and site-building and actually loved you’re write-up. I now want to bookmark your website. You absolutely came through with this perfect article! Kudos for sharing your blog!

  4. Do you mind if I posted this article on my blog? I would certainly give you credit and a link back to your website. Many thanks, and please let me know here, or email me!

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