November 3, 2020

Marathon: Bible-style

“Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Ps. 107:31, KJV).

Members of the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bahamas recently implemented a novel response of their own to the challenge of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has raged for most of 2020. The nation of the Bahamas is a 700-island archipelago, of which 30 to 40 are inhabited. The Shiloh church, with full support from their leaders in the North Bahamas Conference, planned for their 2020 worship experience to include a Bible reading marathon that they would share with the public. While this worship act would allow them to spend reverent time in God’s presence and His Word, and come to know Him in a more meaningful way, it would also provide an opportunity to share the same experience with others. Shiloh membership had scheduled a reading marathon through six continuous days, April 5-10, 2020, only to be undone by the arrival of COVID-19. Plans were dashed indefinitely.

Several attempts were later made to set new dates, but lockdowns, social distancing, and other difficulties arose. The Bible marathon plan involved 24-hour, nonstop reading—a challenge to accomplish with the established curfews in a public setting. The answer they came up with was a virtual Bible marathon. The scheduled date gave them fewer than four weeks to prepare. The team drew their strongest participant support from prayer team members living in various islands of the Bahamas.

Bible Marathon Picture 2The type of Bible marathon they were planning required at least 90 hours and 365 readers. They actually completed it in 98.5 hours with 200 readers. They began Sunday, September 20, with an opening ceremony at 3:00 p.m. and reading initiated by 9-year old TyLyn Collie at 4:00 p.m. The last words of Revelation 22:21 sounded Thursday, September 24, at 6:30 p.m. Some, including Adventist Review associate editor Lael Caesar, took multiple turns at reading. Participants ranged from about 4 years old to 70-plus and came from islands across the Bahamas. Additionally, Adventists from Belize, Canada, Jamaica, the South Pacific, the United Kingdom, and various regions of the United States made up the international cast. Readers came from various walks of, including local government and civic leaders such as the Honorable Peter Turnquest, deputy prime minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and minister for Grand Bahama; also the Honorable Kwasi Thompson, the Honorable Iram Lewis, and Mr. Ian Rolle, president of the Grand Bahama Port Authority. Desmond Brown of Bahamas Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired (BABVI) also participated.

Asked how they felt about the Bible marathon, participants Carol and Sandy responded: “It was refreshing.” 

“I am still on the mountain top, and I don’t want to come down,” said Patricia, another participant.  

“It was a blessing to me as a new convert, and I am so moved that I want to work in the next one,” added Debbie.

 Shiloh is already planning its next Bible marathon for October 2021. 

Camille C. Been is the Bible marathon coordinator for the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bahamas.