December 18, 2009 – Petit Bourg, Guadeloupe…[Libna Stevens/IAD]
For the sixth year in a row, thousands of young Seventh-day Adventists participated in Inter-America’s annual Bible bowl competitions throughout their local churches, districts and church regions. This year, young people studied the Book of Revelation and for 15 finalists, it meant a trip to Guadeloupe for one last competition on Dec. 12, and a chance to be the grand prize winner.
Federico Daniel Mendez of the Central Mexican Union swept this year’s Bowl with a perfect score of 365 and a victory that he’s been waiting for for three years.
“I feel so extremely happy and thankful to God for the opportunity to once again participate in a final Bible competition and be blessed by His Word,” said Mendez.
Mendez, 22, is no stranger to Bible bowl competitions. He won Central Mexico’s union territory last year, finishing second in the grand finale and even skipped his graduation ceremony in Mexico City to participate in the competition.
Mendez, a chemical engineer, said this year’s Book of Revelation was far easier to memorize than last year’s Book of Isaiah. “I found that I really enjoyed memorizing Revelation since it’s the great book of promises for our end of times.”
It’s not about competitions, Mendez, who won a laptop computer said. “I think that we are all winners because we have more to gain than just a prize. We have gained an ability to acquire a better experience in our spiritual lives,” he added.
The grand finale competition brought the finalists to the Palais des Sports Laura Flessel (Laura Flessel Sports Palace) in Petit Bourg, Guadeloupe, to answer some 40 questions on the Book of Revelation. Each contestant answered via individual laptop computers while a crowd of more than 1,200 cheered them on. The two-hour event was streamed live over the internet.
Representing the Mid-Central American Union region was Jose Eliseo Martinez, who finished second. “I have always been intrigued by the Book of Revelation, so when the Bible bowl was advertised in my church, I decided to join even though I don’t like to read too much,” said Martinez.
Originally from El Salvador, Martinez said he memorized Revelation and competed against hundreds of other young people in five rounds of competitions before making it to Guadeloupe. After studying two-inch-thick review questionnaire sheets and drilling from his peers and church leaders, the experience was well worth it.
“This [experience] has brought me a greater connection with God, a wonderful spiritual benefit and a chance to meet other young people,” Martinez said.
Seventeen-year old Dana Giselle Chavez, representing the church in North Mexico, came in third.
“I am so thankful to come and get this far in the competition and meet so many young people from different cultures,” said Chavez. “This is the first time that I read Revelation deeply and now I know more of the prophecies. I know now that the Lord is soon to come and there’s work to be done. God has put me in this world and I want to do what He leads me to do.”
Chavez, who months ago began her university studies in graphic communication in Monterrey, says she memorized each chapter of Revelation and transcribed it by memory several times.
“I want to encourage other people to study God’s Word because if you don’t study it’s like a car which does not have enough gasoline and it gets stuck in the middle of the road. Studying God’s Word is the only thing that the Lord asks us to do and that is not too difficult and besides, it will bring great blessings,” Chavez said.
Motivating young people to read the Word of God has been the main reason for the Bible bowl initiative set out six years ago throughout the Inter-American Division territory, says Pastor Bernardo Rodriguez, youth ministries director for the church in Inter-America and organizer of the Bible bowl event.
“The Bible bowl has been a very positive element to help our young people to study the Bible,” adds Pastor Rodriguez. “We have found that our finalists in Guadeloupe memorized Revelation. That is a witness to all of us to dive into the Word for when the end times come and the written Word will not be available. We will be able to remember the promises in our minds and the Holy Spirit will help us be triumphant in the last great controversy.”
Youth ministries leaders estimate that more than 40 percent of the youth in Inter-America–more than 250,000 young people–studied Revelation during this year’s Bible competitions.
“The challenge we have now is to motivate more young people to get involved in reading the Bible so they can grow spiritually in their walk with Jesus and can be a powerful influence in the fulfillment of the mission of the church,” said Pastor Rodriguez.
Plans are for greater participation of the youth during the next five-year period through Bible bowls and other annual Bible reading initiatives, Pastor Rodriguez said.
Mendez joins the four previous winners in studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah and Revelation for a chance to win at IAD’s Super Bible Bowl competition planned to take place in Miami on May 20, 2010 during the church’s executive committee meetings. The winner will become a special youth delegate and receive an all-expense-paid trip to the Adventist World Church Business Session in Atlanta in June 2010.
To view a photo gallery of this year’s Bible Bowl, go to http://flickr.com/photos/interamerica
To view video of this year’s Bible bowl finale, go to