HISTORY – GENESIS
At the 1999 Annual Retreat of the Jamaica Auxiliary of the Bible Society of the West Indies, Pastor Michael Bunsie, Chairman of the Portland Branch, mentioned having staged a very successful Bible Quiz. This elicited a lot of interest and questions as a result of which it was agreed that the Jamaica Auxiliary should try to run an island-wide Bible Quiz, for schools and if feasible for Church Youth Groups. Accordingly, a small committee was named to work on this project: Chairman – Pastor Bunsie, the Gen. Secretary, the Bible Society Promoter, Mrs. Merle Roper and Pastor Henry James. After several meetings, it was determined that a National Bible Quiz should be attempted with very clear aims and objectives. Namely,
- To engage young people in reading the Bible.
- To give an opportunity for the Bible to have a transforming impact on the life of each participant
- To promote the version of the Bible being used, the Good News Translation special edition prepared for Jamaican Schools.
- To promote the work of the Bible Society among schools.
NBQ is divided into two age group categories: juniors and seniors.
Juniors: originally for those 9-12 years of age but since 2008 this was changed to children 9-11 years of age.
Seniors: At first this category covered those 13-17, but was very soon changed to those 13-16 year old. However, when the Juniors’ age category was changed in 2008 so was the Seniors’ to 12-16.
Youth Groups would have been 17-35 but it was soon decided to concentrate on the schools especially as it was seen to be very difficult and expensive to contact the innumerable youth groups.
Over the years, the format of the quiz has undergone several changes in order to make the matches more interesting, competive and less stressful for the participants. The committee has also been open to suggestions and advice from any quarter as long as they were reasonable and would not compromise the integrity of the quiz.
The current format of the quiz sees each match divided into three sections.
First, the Sword Skill or speed section
Second, the Sword Fight or individual section and,
Third, the Sword Thrust or the make or break section.
Because the Bible, the Word of God is referred to in Ephesians 6 as the SWORD which the Spirit gives, each section of the quiz has a name beginning with “Sword.” Since 2007 each match also begins with a Sword Drill instead of the tossing of a coin to determine which team goes first..
THE EARLY YEARS
For the years 2000, 2002, 2003 the County matches and National Finals were held on one day at Ridgemount United Church Hall in Mandeville and the awards were given out at that time also.
In 2004, this was changed and each County held its own matches, Junior and Senior, at a venue which has remained constant: Cornwall at the Roman Catholic Church Hall in Savanna-la-Mar, Middlesex at Ridgemount Church Hall in Mandeville, and Surrey at the Bethany Church Hall in Halfway Tree, during the same week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday respectively. The County Winners, Junior and Senior, then met at the Ridgemount United Church Hall, for the National Finals in the following week.
In 2004, the National Finals at Ridgemount were recorded for broadcast but, unfortunately, this was not to be. However, this did not daunt the Quiz Committee who felt that the National Bible Quiz needed to be lifted to another level, that of being televised, and this then became the focus.
THE LATER YEARS
This focus meant that the committee needed help if it was going to raise the level of the matches to make them interesting enough for national broadcast. It therefore sought and received assistance and support from the media department of Northern Caribbean University to record and edit the semi finals and final matches of each age group category for broadcast on television.
Simultaneously, the committee entered into an arrangement with CVM Television to purchase air time to broadcast the recorded programmes. The committee also developed a relationship with the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC) which is where the recordings and editing of the matches are are currently done.
It is an understatement to say that the past 9 years of National Bible Quiz has been a learning experience. We have had many highs and several lows, but there was always a commitment to keep the quiz going. The support and encouragement from the school community has been and continues to be, a tower of strength for us as we meet each month in Mandeville. This has been a labour of love but an opportunity to engage with young people for the Lord that we are privileged to share in.
This ministry is a privilege for all who have been engaged in it and it is so encouraging to receive so many favourable comments regarding the format and execution of the matches that have been aired. We are grateful to God for NBQ and for pray that it may continue to go from strength to strength even as the years go by.