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London Bible Quizzer Youngest Member of Central Canada's International Team
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By Kerry Wilson

Up until a month ago, the city name "Minneapolis" always conjured up the same images in my mind: a young Mary Tyler Moore crossing the street and flinging her hat in the air as she makes her way, presumably, to her obviously inspiring job at WJM news! Now that I have firmly established myself as a child of the 70’s, I’d like to fast forward a few decades to 2012, when the city of Minneapolis takes on new meaning not only for myself, but for four London, Ontario young people who will be travelling to that beautiful city early in July. One of those young people is only twelve years old, and he will soon be boarding a plane to match wits, speed and knowledge with a North American gathering of youth — many of whom are older than him.

Ben Booy, who just wrapped up Grade 7 at Emily Carr Public School, is a member of the West London Alliance Church senior Bible quizzing team, and just last month qualified to represent the Central Canadian District at the International Bible Quizzing competition being held at Crown College in Minneapolis, Minnesota this July. As the youngest member of the Central Canadian team, Ben will travel with three other West London Alliance members — Miles Malik, Niki Wright and Jackie Close — to compete against quizzing teams from across Canada and the United States. This was Ben's first year on the senior team after spending three years on the church's junior quizzing team, and it has been a very successful year for him. Along with qualifying for the international meet, Ben was also named the top new quizzer in the district.

In the Missionary Alliance churches, Bible quizzing begins in Grade 4 and continues right through to the end of high school. Each year, specific books are selected for memorization, and teams meet throughout the year to compete in quizzing games. To be successful at quizzing, team members must not only be thoroughly familiar with their memorized passages, but also quick to "jump" when questions are asked. Questions are based on key words or phrases, and include interrogative (regular) questions, multiple answers, situations, chapter and verse references, quoting a Bible verse or finishing a verse. It is a challenging undertaking, but one which hundreds of young people embrace every year.

This year, Ben memorized the books of Hebrews and 1&2 Peter in their entirety.

"This year, I worked on memorizing for about three hours a week," he explains, "except for the past few weeks I've had to focus more on my piano." Ben just completed his Grade 3 piano exam, and he also had a role in his school's Spring drama production. When asked why he enjoyed Bible quizzing, Ben admitted that he enjoyed competition, but quickly added that it's a great way to memorize God's Word and meet new friends.

West London Alliance pastor Mike Wilkins views Bible quizzing as a valuable tool for shaping young people.

"Personally, I learned about the heart-changing, life-shaping power of memorizing Scripture when I was in my teens," he shares. "For the last 15 years or so, West London has watched the same story lived out by many dozens of our youth. The "sport" of quizzing draws them in; the Word of God does the work.

Although excited about his trip, Ben confesses to a slight case of nerves.

"It's my first time on a plane, and my first time away from home, but I’m sure it will be a real learning experience," he stated. "I hope to learn things that will help me as I compete in future years."

Ben isn't the only quizzer in the Booy household. The oldest of five children, Ben spent a number of years with his younger brothers, Matt and Nate, on the junior team, and eventually siblings Rachel and Zachary will join in the fun. It's a marvelous way for the family to learn scripture together and challenge each other to reach for excellence.

As I spoke with Ben, my mind went back to a recent conversation I had with a good friend who is also a Grade 2 teacher here in the city of London. She adamantly believes that children and young people are capable of much more than we can imagine, and that it's critical for them to be given many opportunities to excel and reach God's full potential for their lives. When I consider the work these young people have done this year, and all they have accomplished, I am truly humbled! As adults, we often refer to young people as the church of the future. Perhaps such a statement does them a disservice. As these teens head to Minneapolis this summer, with Hebrews and 1&2 Peter solidly established in their minds and hearts, they truly are the church of the present. May God bless them as they travel and compete for His glory!