National Bible Bee

In Featured, Ministry Reports, Photo Galleries by David Waller21 Comments

The opportunity arose for us to attend the National Bible Bee event where families from all around the nation came together to have the final rounds of competition. Far from most competitions such as sports or county fairs, this competition involved the most important discipline of the Christian life—the memorization of God’s Word. Young people worked diligently for months. Many of them learned over a thousand verses and could quote them word perfect.

As the days approached for us to attend the events of the Bible Bee, word came that the coordinators of the event really needed a Contestant Judge and they asked if I would be available. I told them that I would be delighted to listen to young people quote Scripture. We were excited, but also not sure at how everything would work. Little did we know how God would answer prayer and supply our needs.

For example, I looked to find a good hotel in the area, but everything seemed so high priced. Even a super eight was around $50 and was in a poor area of town. I just had a peace that God would provide. Sure enough, the delightful Bates Family with nineteen children offered for us to stay with them.  Wow! What a blessing. Some of our staff were able to stay with them, but I was concerned about driving an hour each way plus needing to be at the Judges Training late the first night only to come early in the morning to be a judge.

As we were on our way down, I received a phone call from the president of the National Bible Bee saying that our hotel would be covered. It was not just covered—it was a beautiful room in the most convenient place of the whole lodge and Convention Center. When the time came for me to make congratulatory remarks and help award the finalists their trophies, I marveled at how blessed I was to be able to participate in such a God-honoring event. I also was amazed at how God provided for our needs in direct answer to prayer through the very gracious staff of the National Bible Bee.
Just after the conference concluded and we had said our final good byes, we packed up and headed to the Bates for the Sunday church service. The night before, Mr. Bates asked if I might share a lesson at Sunday School. What a special time of fellowship we had together both at church and back at the Bates home later that day. We even got to go to some horseback riding—something I had wanted to do with Priscilla since our honeymoon nine months earlier. After a wonderful time at the Bates we began what turned out to be quite an adventurous journey down to Florida. On Thursday, we will post an unforgettable story that almost left us in big trouble.


  1. Wonderful opportunity for you! The kids just amaze me! So glad you had fun! And Priscilla’s little belly is just precious. :O) She looks beautiful!!

  2. Thank you for sharing! I love your website, thank you for the encouragement! God bless you!
    Best regards from Germany,

  3. Nice pictures of you guys!! I always look forward to your post. Thanks for sharing!!! 🙂

  4. Great pictures. Thanks for sharing. Priscilla looks great. Have you picked out a name for your son yet?

  5. Thank you for your website. I found it because I look at the Duggar website from time to time, and then found your blog. Your website is very encouraging. That’s great that young people are memorizing God’s word. We started memorizing with our family, but need to keep working at it. God bless you, and I can’t wait for the unforgettable story. 🙂

  6. Can’t wait to hear what kind of trouble you get up to! Hopefully it wasn’t too terrible. Please post an update soon on Priscilla’s pregnancy? How is she doing? Was morning sickness hard on her? Do have any ideas for baby names? Is Priscilla planning on delivering at home, as her sister did? (Not trying to be nosy, just excited for you!)

  7. What an awesome experience to be able to participate in. Until this year I had never heard of the Bible Bee. We attend Bible Baptist Church and were delighted to hear your Sunday School lesson. My oldest sons (6 and 8) were impressed. We all were. They are still talking about it. We look forward to having you and Priscilla back to our church as the Lord wills.


    Lisa Eastman

  8. So glad that you guys got to attend. This is truly a wonderful event. If I may, I believe the third picture in your first row of pictures is actually the first place winner in the JUNIOR level not primary. The first place winner in the primary level was Olivia Davis. The picture you have is a picture of Rionna Flynn.

  9. I so look forward to your posts. You both look wonderful, so full of life and ready to become parents. I have accepted a child may not be in God’s plan for me and I take so much joy in seeing good people start that chapter in their lives.

    Thank you, peace and joy for Christmas, your last before baby :),

  10. Rote memorization does not equate learning. That’s what they do in public schools to “teach to the test.” Don’t you want to aspire to something greater? As a teacher, content without context is a recipe for disaster in any event like this. You didn’t elaborate about the “staff” and what kind of teams contested (all ATI or were other groups permitted)? It appears to be ATI, and if so, how were you determined to be the arbiter?

    1. Author

      Thanks for your comment! This is one of the very thoughts I shared with the group when I had the opportunity. Psalm one talks about the importance of Biblical meditation and the place it has in the life of every believer. What a blessing it was to see all these children memorizing. Now as the Holy Spirit guides them into all truth, they can take God’s Word from their mind and hide it in their heart. See Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” The National Bible Bee does an excellent job helping young people from all church backgrounds do this very discipline. I was so blessed to be asked by the National Bible Bee to be a preliminary round judge and I would highly recommend this program to others.

    2. Greetings Friends,

      A quick note in response to M&M’s questions from the perspective of the National Bible Bee Foundation.

      The Foundation wholeheartedly agrees…content without context is most certainly a recipe for disaster.

      The onstage competition is only a small part of the big picture. All of the contestants and their families study the Word together over the summer through the Shelby Kennedy Foundation’s Sword Studies. The Sword Studies are in-depth, inductive Bible studies on one book of the Bible. They are provided in age appropriate levels for children from 4 to 18, plus a Parent’s Guide. The studies encourage much more than just reading or memorizing God’s Word, they challenge families to dig deep through investigating each chapter for two weeks, word studies and cross referencing. The 25 memory verses tie back to the book they are studying.

      As Scripture interprets Scripture and each member of the family studies the same book at the same time with family “bonfires” at the end of each week, family discipleship is the real focus. Participating in the contest is optional.

      Children 7 to 18 years of age and their families are invited to participate. While there are quite a few ATI families due to Mr. Gothard tremendous support of the Foundation’s efforts, only a fraction of the 8,000+ children are from ATI families.

      We want to highlight that the competition is equally divided between Scripture memory and Scripture knowledge. Behind the stage scene, contestants take a 200 question test that allows them to show that they understand the context and meaning of all of the Bible passages they have memorized as well as the book of the Bible that they have studied. Since the local, summer contests are how they progress to nationals, the local contests are key. The local contests only require 25 memory passages, thus making their Bible knowledge and understanding of the passages and book vital to progressing to the national level. The national competition also has an additional 200 question test.

      The Shelby Kennedy Foundation’s mission is to help families strengthen their personal relationship with the Lord and dynamically impact the world as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. The vision for the National Bible Bee is to encourage parents as they disciple their children through in-depth study of the Word of God, Scripture memorization, and prayer.

      May we encourage you to investigate the Bible Bee and the deep materials behind the scenes by visiting


  11. I believe there is a problem with your blog. Your Pecan story seems to have vanished. I wanted to have my wife read it. Am I just missing it? Please advise.

    Thank you


  12. Enjoyed looking at the pictures…thanks for putting them up! I enjoyed getting to meet your wife at the Bible Bee…Glad you both were able to attend this year!

    Bethany (a senior contestant :P)

  13. It was wonderful meeting you and visiting at Nationals! 🙂

    God bless you all!

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