As they look for ways to provide young people of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) with a worthwhile lockdown activity on top of the 100 Days of Prayer, the regional Adventist Youth Ministry (AYM) launched its “Memorize A Bible Verse Challenge” on April 25, 2020. The challenge aims to encourage young people to fix the Word of God in their minds and to challenge others to do so.
The challenge began with the SSD youth director, who passed the challenge on to union youth directors, then to the mission and conference youth directors and young people. As of May 1, almost 300 people have enrolled, including young people, some parents, and some children. They are memorizing, reciting, and sharing the Word of God in English, Tamil, Bahasa, Filipino, Laotian, Kadazan, Iban, Chinese, and other languages across the territory.
The challenge has seven steps:
In his sermon during the culmination of a Week of Prayer, SSD president Saw Samuel referred to the Word of God as the sword of the Spirit. Samuel said he valued the challenge of promoting Bible verse memorization to young people and children.
“I appreciate what some of our department directors are promoting, encouraging children and youth to memorize Scripture texts.… This is not, however, just for children and youth but for all of us, to fight against evil.”
Adventist Church youth director Gary Blanchard took the challenge by memorizing and recording Psalm 91:2, which reads, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’” He then challenged Trans-European Division youth director Zlatko Musija, who, in turn, challenged South Pacific Division director Nick Kross.
On his Facebook page, participant Joseph Tean shared, “I don't always participate in social media challenges. So I guess this will be my first time. I have been tagged by Gabriel Diong, and challenged by Serdang Adventist Hope Centre.” Tean then recited John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Steve Kuan, an elder of Bukit Mertajam Adventist church in Peninsular Malaysia Mission (PMM), joined the challenge and memorized Psalm 91. He commented, “This Psalm 91 of the Scripture is very dear to me. It contains so many great promises of God we need during these last days of pestilence and tribulations. I encourage every youth and church member to remember this passage. And the great promise of God is that He will deliver us.”
Alisha Amaldas, from Penang English Adventist church, shared on Facebook, “I was going through difficult moments in life because my father had a mild stroke and my mom met an accident, broke her leg, and personally myself having some medical problems…. Through this challenge, however, I believe God brought me back to Him. Because after I memorized the whole chapter, the next day, it urged me to memorize another chapter, and it made me connect with God more. I’m truly blessed after I’ve participated in this challenge.”
Responding to the Bible challenge, PMM youth director Renie Ubara said, in the context of the lockdown and moving forward, that there are several things he has understood and now wants to share. Ubara mentioned specifically that young people need “young people’s venues” to share their talents and knowledge of Scriptures and God, and that a virtual or online connection is very powerful to reach up, reach in, and reach out. Ubara also listed the need for deeper thinking about how to use this initiative to go beyond just Seventh-day Adventists, the attention of the church about this powerful connectivity, and a renewed realization about how to respond if the Holy Spirit leads the church to a fresher direction.
Regional leaders said the SSD AYM department has been actively promoting both the 100 Days prayer initiative and verse memorization as part of leading its youth to fulfill its Vision 2020.
“It includes having healthy young people who enjoy a saving relationship with Christ, love Scripture as their standard of living, and serve the church and their communities by using their God-given spiritual gifts, fulfilling the gospel commission in the power of the Holy Spirit,” they said.