Church embraces Scripture memorization challenge

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, April 8th.

Thanks so much for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham.

Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Memorizing Scripture!

Just thinking about it brings back memories of Sunday School classes and old-time Bible bees. Scripture memorization is often the least pursued of the spiritual disciplines, because, well, it’s hard to do for some of us.

But WORLD Senior Correspondent, Myrna Brown found some Georgia families who make it look easy. Here’s the story.

AMBERLY: Put your hands down.

MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: Hands in pockets, stand still, and speak clearly. Final instructions from a mama on a mission.

AMBERLY: Alright, go!  Galatians four, one through thirty one. Now I say to the heir as long as he is a child…

It’s 4 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. Sitting at the kitchen table, on a high-back wooden chair, homeschool mom Amberly Waddle uses her finger to follow along in her Bible. She’s listening to her 13-year-old son, Thomas, recite the first 15 verses of Galatians Chapter 4.

THOMAS: Will you not despair…

AMBERLY: [whispers] in my trial…

THOMAS: in my trial….

With a few pauses and prompts, Thomas gets through it. Then, Amberly points to 7-year-old. Gideon. 

Wearing bright blue glasses and standing several inches shorter than his big brother, Gideon softly picks up at verse 16. But by the time he gets to verse 27…

GIDEON: Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor!

AMBERLY: Very good. Good job. Alright Esther your turn.

ESTHER: Galatians 5: 1 -26.  Stand fast….

Four minutes later, 12-year-old Esther and 10- year-old Judah finish up their part. All 26 verses of Galatians chapter 5: recalled and recited.

 JUDAH: I do it by memorizing three verses every day. 

ESTHER: For my memorization, I memorize a verse by going over it several times and then I go to the second one and when I’m done memorizing the second one, I go back to the first one and say them through without looking. And I just keep doing that and it really gets in my head.

That’s the ultimate goal for their parents Adam and Amberly Waddle: transformation by the renewal of their children’s minds.

AMBERLY: The Bible says I will hide your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. I mean that is one of the things and tools that God uses to keep us from sinning against Him. It’s His Word.

ADAM: Honestly, we started when they were around 2. We believe in it, right. But we also come from a church that believes in it.

AMBERLY: Alright, everybody get your shoes on. You said get a cookie. Alright, get a cookie and then get your shoes on.

ADAM: Don’t let the cat in.

AUDIO: [car cranks]

It’s a little past 5 p.m. The Waddles are heading back to church. As Adam drives, Amberly uses every bit of their 20 minute commute for one last review of Galatians.

AUDIO: [talking, noises]

At the end of a long driveway in rural middle Georgia, Redeemer Baptist Church is surrounded by trees. The small building is brand new. It’s the first time members have gathered for this Sunday evening event.

AUDIO: [people laughing, talking]

There’s an excitement and hum of anticipation in the air as families take their seats on the deep blue padded chairs.

HOST: Well good evening. I’m Steve Esmond and I have been asked to welcome y’all and to say a few opening comments and then we’ll get to the Scriptorium.

Scriptorium is a Latin word that means “place for writing.” In the centuries between Christ and the modern era, scribes preserved handwritten copies of the Bible by copying the Scriptures in a room called a Scriptorium. In 2006, people from churches around the country began following that same tradition, but with a verbal twist. Barbara Fike brought the idea to Redeemer.

FIKE: Some were overwhelmed but we had a number of people just willing to get in there and try it.

In 20-17 Redeemer Baptist hosted its first Scriptorium. Tonight, about a dozen or so families and individuals will recite more than 500 verses from the New Testament books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.

HOST: So before we get started, let’s pray and ask God to bless our time.

Marie and Wesley Johnston walk hand in hand to the small wooden stage slash pulpit. Marie is a wife and mom of three little boys. Wesley, a kindergartner, is her oldest.

WESLEY: Grace to you, in peace, from God our Father in the Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins….

After rehearsing throughout the afternoon, it’s the Waddles’ turn.

AMBERLY: And after 14 years I went to Jerusalem and Barnabas….

Amberly Waddle begins reciting all 21 verses of Galatians 2.When she takes her seat, her four children are next—hands in pockets, eyes on mom.

THOMAS: Galatians 4 [clears his throat] 1 – 31…..

For the next hour and a half, it’s a steady flow of men, women, and children: including a father of two who works as a trainer for an insurance company, several college students, even entire families on stage reciting Scripture together.

    AUDIO: [voices reciting Scripture]

Kevin Epperson drove an hour from a neighboring county to witness and participate in the Scriptorium.

KEVIN EPPERSON: By contrast to what the world is offering us and what we could be doing with our time and putting in our head, what a great opportunity it is to fill your mind with one chapter of the Bible.

Redeemer will hold its next Scriptorium later this summer. And this time it’s an Old Testament sampler.

BARBARA FIKE: I would say just give it a try.  What happens even in one life, is worth everything, worth your discomfort and fear. It’s God’s Word and it’s eternal, and only God knows what the results will be of time spent memorizing his Word and sharing it with others. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown in Juliette, Georgia.

If you’d like to see those families on stage reciting scripture, Myrna produced a companion piece for WORLD Watch, our video news program for students. We’ll post a link to that story in today’s transcript.

(Photo/Myrna Brown)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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