It took 10:07 minutes for Waylon Johnson of the Bahamas to answer 50 Bible questions and become the winner of Inter-America’s 2010-15 Super Bible Boom competition.
With the win, Johnson will travel as an official delegate to the Adventist world church’s 60th General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, in July.
“I’m excited to have this opportunity to be part of the General Conference session,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who had a total score of 445 points, stunned the audience of almost 200 people gathered in the Inter-American Division headquarters in Miami when the final scores were announced because he appeared to be trailing after question 15.
Top church leaders from across the 24 major Seventh-day Adventist Church regions in Inter-America burst into shouts and applause as Johnson was crowned the winner.
With a look of astonishment and a big smile, Johnson was hugged and congratulated by his church leaders who wrapped him in the Bahamas flag — as well as Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos flags, representing the countries in the Atlantic Caribbean Union.
His victory took him back to 2011 when he surprised audiences in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and became the division’s top Bible Boom winner after coming from the bottom among more than a dozen other finalists.
Johnson acknowledged he felt a bit nervous and unsure hours before he began to answer questions on 22 books of the Bible that he had to review to compete in the two-hour live online program last weekend.
Johnson, 30, who received a one-year scholarship to Antillean Adventist University in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, when he won in 2011, said studying the Bible for this competition has blessed him immensely in his spiritual life and allowed him to share God’s Bible promises with others. He is in his second year of theology at Antillean Adventist University and takes his final exams this coming week.
The president of the church in Puerto Rico, Jose Alberto Rodriguez, announced that his union office would donate $2,000 toward Johnson’s studies at the Antillean Adventist University. In addition, the president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union, Leonard Johnson, announced his union would contribute $3,000 to assist in Johnson’s studies as well.
Victor Jaimes of Colombia, winner of the division’s 2012 Bible competition, trailed Johnson by only five points and five seconds. Jaimes, 27, will graduate from his theology studies next month at Colombia Adventist University. As second place winner, Jaimes got a new laptop computer, a $500 cash prize from the division, and a $1,000 donation from the South Colombia Union.
“Just getting to be here is such a blessing, and I just came here to enjoy every moment during this final competition,” said Jaimes, adding that he fell in love with the book of Jonah again as he reviewed all 22 Bible chapters for the competition.
Miriam Orozco of Mexico, 2014’s Bible Boom winner, said she reviewed the books of the Bible as devotional readings every day. Orozco began her degree in nursing at Navojoa Adventist University in Mexico after obtaining a partial scholarship when she won last year.
Orozco came in third place and won a laptop computer, a $300 cash prize from the division, and a $2,000 donation toward her studies from the North Mexican Union.
She was most impressed with the letters Paul wrote for the church in his time and how they are applicable to today’s church. She said she also loved reviewing the book of Luke and Ellen G. White’s Acts of the Apostles.
“A Bible Boom competition should not be seen as something to participate in just to win,” said Orozco. “It is a great blessing to get to know more of God because it drives you to be well within yourself, with God as you use the Bible as a daily guide.”
Using the Bible as a daily guide has been an initiative that has swept through the Inter-American Division since the competition began in 2004, organizers said.
“The Bible Boom needs to continue enlisting the interest of our children and young people in our churches, schools, and activities,” said Louise Nocandy, associate youth ministries director for the church in Inter-America and organizer of the Bible competition initiative.
“We praise the Lord because the interest in the Bible Boom initiative across the territory has been growing among the 1.5 million young people” in the division, she said.
A special award was given to church leaders from the Haitian Union for Jempsey Jugerson Tisma, who was the 2013 Bible Boom winner. Because of travel visa delays, Tisma could not attend the event. Tisma, who is studying theology at Cuba’s Adventist Theological Seminary, also received a $300 cash prize.
All of the finalists also received an Andrews Study Bible.