LITTLE ROCK – Eight contenders (pictured above) arrived at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) building on Saturday morning, April 9 with their Bibles and a few butterflies. They were accompanied by parents, grandparents, their drill coaches, and other supporters. Each had been memorizing passages of Scripture and practicing how to quickly locate passages in all 66 books of the Bible.
Will McKay, ABSC Evangelism+Church Health Team Leader, welcomed participants and their supporters. As he expressed his appreciation to the coaches and parents for their attendance, he shared a story from his own life of the importance of knowing Scripture.
McKay told of how he had once been visiting with a young man whose life seemed to be characterized by a series of troubles and he had asked the young man what he depended on for guidance. When the young man responded that he depended on his own understanding, McKay immediately thought of Proverbs 3:5, a verse he had learned more than 20 years before. At this point in the story McKay asked who knew that reference and some of the drillers began to quote the verse, attesting to their skills.
McKay went on to tell how the young man realized upon hearing him quote the need to “lean not on your own understanding” that he had never trusted Jesus for salvation but had been trusting in his own knowledge. He summarized by saying that the Holy Spirit can use any Scripture to lead others to salvation.
The drill then got underway in front of a group of four judges after the “caller” Emily Hopp gave a few directions. Every call begins with three instructions, “Attention…Present Bibles…Start” and drillers are given eight seconds to locate the stated Scripture and step forward.
Alyssa Lee, a senior from Grandview Baptist Church in Berryville, earned a perfect score in the high school category. She will represent Arkansas at the national competition to be held in Brunswick, GA in June. She believes that being involved in Bible Drill has helped her with confidence to succeed in other areas as she plans to attend community college and major in nursing.
Caedmon Allen, a 7th grader from First Baptist Church in Pea Ridge, also earned a perfect score to earn first place in the youth category and will represent Arkansas at the national level. Caedmon has been participating in Bible drill since he was in second grade. Noah Darnell, another 7th grader from Pea Ridge, earned second place in the youth category.
Both winners will receive a $500 stipend to apply toward registration and travel expenses to attend the National Bible Drill this summer.
Sherrie Ragland of Pea Ridge has been coaching Bible drill participants for more than 35 years. When asked about changes she has observed over the years, she noted that there seemed to have been a period of lagging interest but feels that interest is enjoying a resurgence.
Participant Caleb Herweck from First Baptist Church in DeQueen came with his mom and two younger brothers along with their coach. Both brothers look forward to participating next year, one in the children’s drill again and the other in his first year in the youth drill.
Due to the pandemic’s effect on this event as well as the regional events that are a precursor to the state drill, the Children’s Regional and State Drills in 2020 and 2021 have been held in seven different regions across AR instead of drilling all together in the Central area. However, points are totaled regionally, and certificates are awarded. This year’s State Youth and High School Drill only had participants that qualified from four different churches.
Leah Jo Wilson, Preschool & Children’s Ministry Consultant/State Bible Drill Coordinator at ABSC, expressed her desire to see participation return to pre-pandemic levels. Wilson often says, “Everyone can’t place first, but everyone is a winner that learns the Word of God!”