ORLANDO (FBC)—Youth representing 11 states aggressively thumbed through their Bibles and gave gripping speeches at the National Invitational Youth Bible Drill and Speakers Tournament (NIT) June 10 at First Baptist Church in Orlando.
In the speaker’s tournament, Christina Kruse of Lifeway Fellowship in Killeen, Texas, won following an emotional delivery of her speech “Called to Serve.” Kruse, a 17 year-old high school senior competed against nine other teenagers who were judged on the composition and presentation of a topic that helped them to express their faith. Runner-up was Ryan Kenimer a senior from Paris, Ky., and member of Central Baptist Church.
The key challenge in her speech “Are you ready to serve?” is a question Kruse said she must face each time she delivers the speech. “Every time I speak this message, what comes to my mind is where God wants me to be.”
With tears streaming down her face, Kruse made a vivid example of missionaries like Lottie Moon who gave everything to follow God’s call. Learning about their sacrifice grew her faith, she said.
“There’s something about doing this that can’t be explained, but the study and research I do for my speeches help me grow spiritually,” she said. Kruse has competed in the speech tournament for several years on a church-wide, associational, regional and state level. Participants must advance to win their state’s tournament in order to attend NIT.
Florida’s speech winners Sarah Vermilyea, 16, a member of Parkway Baptist Church in Orlando and Angel McCurdy, 18, of Immanuel Baptist Church in Pace also participated in the speaker’s tournament.
The event held a special significance to the Vermilyea family. From their oldest brother and sister to 16 year-old Sarah and 14 year-old Timothy who represented Florida during the Bible drill portion of the event, the family’s four siblings have all participated in these competitions over the years.
While Sarah Vermilyea did not win the national trophy this year, her speech on the topic of hope served a greater purpose as it carried her family through the two weeks her father, Mike, spent in the hospital due to a life-threatening blood clot in his lung.
Sarah said her father’s health problems helped her to see the life application in her message. Competing in these events is “a strong tool for growing in your Christian walk,” she said.
“Doing this speech helped me realize that our hope in Christ is in fact the most important thing when going through difficult situations,” Sarah added.
And while the competitive edge in learning the scriptures and doing research is motivational, a proper perspective is key, noted Angel McCurdy, Florida’s co-winner in the state speech competition.
“Even if you don’t win, every time you give your speech, you are a witness to someone who is going to hear,” McCurdy said.
As a recent high school graduate, McCurdy added that this type of experience will “give her something to stand on” as she embarks upon college.
“There will be a lot of things in this world that could bring me down, but being a part of these competitions has given me confidence that these are my morals, my convictions. This is my faith,” McCurdy said.
Other speakers who represented their states in the Youth Speakers Tournament were Darrell Kent, Demopolis, Ala.; Olivia Neeley, Fayetteville, Ga.; Whitney Davis, Hanson, Ky.; Mary Johnson, Destrehan, La.; Shamiqua Frazer, Bronx, NY. and Roxanne Hughes, Spruce Pine, N.C.
Timothy Vermilyea, competed in the final Bible drill-off after advancing through the first round of drills, which narrowed the pool of participants down to the top six individual who would compete for first place.
The Bible Drills, designed for 7th-9th grade students, required youth to memorize the order of books in the Bible and several series of verses, which include scriptures that support Baptist doctrinal statements. Drillers were then quizzed on a passage or book and expected to locate it in their Bible within eight seconds.
In the end, Kimberly Marti, a homeschooled freshman and member of First Baptist Church Lamar, Mo., won top honors during the Bible Drill portion of the competition. Leslie Taylor, also a homeschooled 9th-grader and member of Fellowship Baptist Church in Lillington, N.C., was the runner-up.
Representing their states in the national Bible Drill were Ellen Lawrence, Madison, Ala.; Michael Wayne Macks, Nashville, Ar.; Kayla Ray, Royston, Ga.; Ethan Bloodworth, Macon, Ga.; Taylor Gray, Kuttawa, Ky.; Kayla Vanover, Louisville, Ky.; Brianne Painia, New Orleans, La.; Nadia Campbell, Bronx, NY. and Hanna Eunice of Del Rio representing the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
The one-day event was sponsored by the Southeastern States Discipleship Training Group (SEDT) and was hosted by the Florida Baptist Convention Discipleship and Family Department. Each contestant was presented with a special backpack embroidered with the 2005 Bible drill logo.
The 2006 National Youth Bible Drill and Speakers Tournament Invitational is at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.
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