Hundreds of adolescents participated in a region-wide reading competition in northern Colombia that culminated with a final event and a winner recently. The initiative, which sought to motivate the reading of books for spiritual growth, was organized by the children’s and adolescent ministries in the North Colombian Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“One of the main objectives for this initiative is for the children to read books published by our church, because there is wisdom there,” Zoaida Pérez, children and adolescent ministries director for the North Colombian Union, said.
The reading initiative was the first this year to engage 12- to 17-year-olds in churches and church schools across the region, she said. Youngsters read The Party Boy, written by Alejandro Medina and published by GEMA Editors in Mexico. The book is based on the Bible story of Samson, the “Hercules” of the Old Testament.
“With this type of competition, the motivation grows, and it is our hope that when all of us join together for the good of young people, creating resources that seek to educate and help them, we’ll be fulfilling [God’s] mission,” Medina, a keynote speaker during the final competition, said.
Nearly 300 gathered at the Botanical Garden’s Jose Manuel Restrepo Room in Medellin on September 24 to watch the grand finale competition and cheer on the eight finalists who were representing the local fields in the region. Students enrolled in several Adventist schools also participated. In addition, 320 students from a public school committed to reading the book during the school year, thanks to an Adventist teacher who told them about the reading initiative, Perez said.
More than 480 participants had studied the book since the beginning of the year, competing in their churches, districts, and local fields before the final test at the union level. Fifteen-year-old Brenda Cortéz of the East Colombian Conference took the top spot, answering the most questions correctly in the shortest amount of time, followed by Mariana Márquez of the Southwest Colombian Mission, and Sebastian Rincón of the West Central Colombian Conference, who took third place.
“Reading this book has helped me grow a lot, because it gives us great teaching. Despite the fact that Samson made mistakes, God’s mercy and forgiveness was shown,” Elizabeth Méndez, a student representing the Adventist school on San Andrés Island, said.
For Duván Oquendo, a parent, it’s important to instill the reading habit in young people. “My son acquired a lot of knowledge through this book, learning how Samson made mistakes because he disobeyed God and his parents,” Oquendo said. “If our children learn to read these types of books, they will acquire principles and values very useful to them.”
“The results of this event were so positive and interesting and challenged leaders to continue working in favor of adolescents, so they, too, can develop a relationship with Jesus and be ready to live in heaven with Him,” Perez said.
Children and adolescent ministries leaders are in the process of selecting a book for students to study in 2023.