Hartselle church celebrates 20 years of Bible Drillcomment (0)
May 31, 2007
By Grace Thornton
Will work for Jolly Ranchers.
That’s the motto of the Bible drillers of East Highland Baptist Church, Hartselle, who each year memorize vast amounts of Scripture to the tune of one piece of fruit-flavored candy per verse.
Suzanne Nichols smiles at the thought, because she knows something the fourth- through sixth-graders haven’t realized yet — the moment of sweet reward will actually pan out to be a lifetime of deep biblical knowledge.
For two decades, Nichols and others have watched as children have come and gone through the various levels of Bible Drill programs at the Morgan Baptist Association church.
Sonya Tucker, an associate in the office of discipleship and family ministries for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said that if East Highland is not the church with the longest continuous Bible Drill program in the state, then "it’s going to rank up there."
And even though the number of children and youth involved in the church’s program has ebbed and flowed over the years, "the fact that it’s been consistent regardless of size says something about the priority of the church," Tucker noted.
"I just believe that churches who give priority to helping boys and girls and students to know God’s Word are really understanding a part of the Great Commission as far as teaching them to observe everything He taught us," she said.
Some of the Bible Drill veterans at East Highland — including Nichols’ son Randall — have grown up to commit their lives to the ministry. Others testify to the major impact that memorizing Scripture has made on their spiritual journey.
"It’s a blessing to see how God uses Bible Drills … not only to mature [the children] spiritually but to uniquely equip each one of them for what they have going on right now," said Nichols, East Highland Baptist’s Bible Drill director.
For that reason, the church decided to hold a special evening service May 6 honoring 20 years of official Bible Drill programs at East Highland, though Nichols said drills have been a part of the church since its beginnings.
The 90-minute service put the spotlight on the program in a variety of ways including video testimonies from drillers past and present; songs, drama and readings illustrating the impact of Scripture and Bible Drill; and a demonstration drill.
"It was really good," said fifth-grade driller Heather Tilley. "We got to speak about how fun Bible Drill is."
Tucker also presented the church with a plaque during the celebration.
Pastor Walter Blackman said though East Highland’s drillers have never won a state drill or had the largest showing of drillers, the church has always been well represented because it feels the program is vital for children and youth.
"I think [churches without Bible Drill programs] are missing out on something very important for the kids," Blackman said. "I understand kids today are busy with ball games and other activities outside church, but Bible Drill is something that stays with the kids. I was in Bible Drill when I was young, and it was very helpful for me."
Judy Webster felt the same way when she initiated East Highland’s first program in 1986 for fourth- through sixth-graders. In the years since, the program has grown to include Youth Bible Drill for seventh- through ninth-graders, as well as Bible Skills, Drills and Thrills for second- and third-graders and Bible Buddies for first-graders.
"It’s one of the most important ministries a church can have," said Webster, who directed the program for 10 years and watched all three of her children progress through Bible Drill. "If we hide Scripture in our heart, when our heart gets broken, God’s Word is going to pour out. That’s why it’s such a top priority for us."
As the children stated in a dramatic reading during the celebration, Bible Drill takes commitment, is fun, is challenging and lasts not just a lifetime but for eternity, Nichols said. "If our children don’t know God’s Word and how to use it effectively, they will have a difficult time standing firm in the world they are growing into," she wrote in "Historical Highlights of Bible Drills at East Highland," which she compiled for the occasion.
"This is the reason we have kept the ‘Sword’ lifted up and have continued to issue the ‘call’ into the hearts of the young people of East Highland Baptist Church."