Alajuela, Costa Rica….[Libna Stevens/IAD]
The third annual Inter-American Youth Bible Bowl came to a close during its finals competition on Nov. 25. When it was over, there were three finalists, the remaining 12 competitors and thousands of Adventist Youth throughout Inter-America with a better knowledge of God’s love.
During the competition, which was held in Central America’s Adventist University (UNADECA) in Alajuela, Costa Rica, finalists answered some 40 questions on the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, through computer terminals. The format of the competition was styled after the popular American television game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.”
Bilgai Abner Cruz, who hails from the Inter-Oceanic Mexican region, was the grand prize winner. The first runner up was Sonia Reyes from the Mid-Central American Union. In third place was Mario Luis Herasme from the Dominican Union. The three top prizes included a laptop computer, scholarships to Montemorelos Adventist University and Central American Adventist University, as well as collection of books from IAD’s Publishing Association. All finalists received cash prizes from the IAD Health Food Company and were able to enjoy a few days of sight-seeing in Costa Rica.
The Youth Bible Bowl competitions began last July in the local churches, then on to conferences and later to regional finals. The theme for this year's Bowl centered on being “Obsessed with His [Jesus] Love”.
Before the competition began, Pastor Israel Leito, president of the Adventist Church in Inter-America, congratulated all finalists for their hard work.
“I want you to know, that it is our hope that you do not win today,” Pastor Leito said. “You are not coming here to win a prize, you already won the prize…you gained more knowledge from the Word of God and you can inspire other young people.”
More knowledge of the Bible is what church leaders throughout the church’s territory want to instill in the young people, emphasized Pastor Leito.
“We are interested for the youth of Inter-America to fall in love with the Bible, that they read the Bible and inspire other young people to read it,” he said.
During his message the youth, Pastor Leito reflected on Ps. 119:105 on the importance of having God’s Word lead their lives.
“I Hope the Bible can become the guide that takes you to the feet of Jesus Christ and eternal life,” Pastor Leito said as he challenged young people to study and live more the Bible as they return to their churches.
“We all win, the young people of Inter-America have been blessed by the study of the Word of God,” he added.
According to Pastor Bernardo Rodriguez, youth ministries director for the church in Inter-America, the IAD Youth Bible Bowl was originally planned to be a one-time incentive event that would motivate the young people of Inter-America to study the Bible and interact more with their peers. But as the program was voted by executive committee members during 2002 year-end meetings, the church administrators forsaw the benefits in getting the youth of Inter-America to participate every year.
“I think that the Bible bowl is a key factor in motivating 75% of our young people in Inter-America to study the Bible,” said Pastor Rodriguez. “We have over one million Adventist Youth in Inter-America and we want to motivate more and more young people into falling in love with the Bible, of being obsessed with Jesus and His love.”
Over the last few years, more and more young Adventists are participating in their local churches throughout the territory, according to Pastor Rodriguez. Viewership has also increased, as each of the final competitions have been streamed live over the internet.
“Our young people are excited to get involved in the Bible competitions,” says Pastor Rodriguez. “It is so wonderful to see the love that has impacted the young people through these competitions.”
Next year's Youth Bible Bowl finals will be held in July in Medellin, Colombia. The subject will be the books of Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes.
For more on IAD’s Youth Ministries programs, visit us at www.interamerica.org.