If you attended Sunday School or Vacation Bible School as a child, you probably participated in Scripture memory contests. In some churches, they are known as “sword drills.” No matter what they’re called, the goal is to help children learn Bible verses and passages.
You might have considered activities like this fun games, but did they have any lasting effect? Did memorizing verses have an impact on your life?
For one young woman in Egypt, the answer is a resounding: “Yes!”
When Abi was three years old, she contracted meningitis. Doctors did a spinal tap, but told Abi’s parents that she would not be able to walk. Despite this diagnosis, Abi walked until she was 15.
That’s when she began to feel numbness in her legs. Walking soon became difficult, and before long… impossible.
As Abi was trying to come to terms with this sudden and severe disability, the pastor at her church announced a special Bible contest – part of Biblica’s Children for Christ program. Frustrated and depressed, she decided to start memorizing Scripture, if only to distract her mind from all that was troubling her.
“During this time,” she says, “I felt God leading me to do this.”
In a matter of days, she had successfully memorized all of the verses in the contest. Yet she was having a hard time believing God cared about her. If he did, why would he let this terrible thing happen to her? Why was she paralyzed?
“I was telling Him, please God, do something! I felt sad going through this hardship. I was asking God, ‘Why?’
“God answered me through the memorizing. I found God talking to me through the Scripture I was memorizing.”
One of the verses was from 2 Timothy: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
She responded by telling God, “Okay, you don’t give us the spirit of fear. If we want to adjust God’s timing to fit our own,” she said, “this is because of our ignorance.”
It was as she read and reread this verse that Abi chose to trust God, believing what He had said in His Word.
Only about 10% of teens in the Middle East read the Bible regularly. The purpose of Biblica’s Children for Christ Bible contests is to encourage these young people to get into God’s Word. The contests consist of two parts. The first is a Bible character for children to study. The second is a list of Scriptures for children to memorize. Through these activities, young people and their families are exposed to the truth of the Bible and have the opportunity to put their faith in Christ.
If you’re still wondering if Bible contests really make a long-term impact, just ask Abi. She’ll tell you that for her, memorizing God’s Word made all the difference in the world.
Editor’s note: The name and picture of the girl referenced in this story have been changed to protect her identity.