Pathfinder teams from across North America and the world came together in person and remotely on April 22-23, 2022 for the Pathfinder Bible Experience Division Finals. Sixty-three teams met in person at the Lane Events Center in Eugene, Oregon, and 30 teams joined remotely. This was the division’s first in-person Pathfinder event since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 event.
The atmosphere inside the convention hall vibrated with excitement as the Pathfinders huddled around the tables on the test floor. Parents and guests claimed seats at ringside to watch the proceedings. About 900 Pathfinders, leaders, parents and guests filled the convention hall.
Zikl Nyengani, 15, a member of the British Union’s Newport Pathfinder Club, said he traveled to Oregon “for the love of the Bible”. He went on to say that he enjoys “discovering new stories” and “the thrill of being able to push yourself further than you knew you could go”.
This year marked the first time teams were able to participate in person and remotely. In the past, travel costs prohibited some qualified teams from attending. Nine unions from North America were represented as well as 17 teams from the British Union, including the North of England Conference, the South of England Conference, the Irish Mission and the Welsh Mission.
Christian Cha, 12, a member of the Pacific Union’s Paradise Prayer Warriors Pathfinder Club, spent 30 minutes a day studying, beginning in October. “It’s a new experience [for] me, and I thought that was really cool,” Cha said. “It’s really useful for [me] in the future, and it’s a very nice experience. My favorite verse was 1 Kings 3:7. It reminds me of myself and many people. We all have our strengths and weaknesses because we are human, and we should always ask God for help.
Daniel Ortega, director of ministries for the Oregon Conference Club, spoke for Vespers Friday evening. “It’s all about Jesus and his sacrifice,” Ortega said. “I pray that you will take the time to learn the scriptures, to memorize them, that it will truly impact you in a way that no other literature – in school, in your home – can. “
Technical problems slowed the start of testing on Sabbath morning. The roll call included an internet connectivity check and instructions for each team monitor. As the proceedings began, Armando Miranda, director of the North American Division Pathfinders, said, “We had some difficulties getting started today, but we are Pathfinders and we are adapting and overcoming! »
A video featuring G. Alexander Bryant, President of the North American Division, welcomed the Pathfinders. “I’m so excited and thrilled with what you’ve done to study God’s Word,” Bryant said. “I know God is going to bless you abundantly this weekend. Your study of God’s Word will be a source of continued blessing throughout your life.
The teams were tested in English, Spanish and French. Teams were asked 90 questions based on the Old Testament books of 1 Kings and Ruth. Since 2012, the path to the PBE divisional level has taken place in four stages.
Teams, made up of up to six people, are first chosen by their clubs to compete in their local districts after months of Bible study and memorization. Those who score less than 90% of the highest score advance to the conference level. The same pattern continues at the union level up to the division.
Each PBE team represents unique stories of how the teams worked to memorize the Word of God and their journey to the Division Finals. A few stories stand out.
At the edge of the test floor, a table displayed a sign with the number 5 on it. While most team tables had five or six Pathfinders, this table had two girls, ages 10 and 13. This year’s smallest team proudly represented their home church, the Capital Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church in Washington, DC.
Their four-member squad shrank to two after their union-level testing. This did not discourage these two young girls. Daniela and Belinda shared the information and started memorizing. Daniela took 1 Kings 1-11 and Ruth 1-2. Belinda took 1 Kings 12-22 and Ruth 3-4.
“I really like the story where Solomon asked for wisdom and he ended up being the wisest man on earth,” Daniela said. “It tells me that God will help you in whatever you study. God and our churches helped us get here. We did it here and it’s fun!
Another team almost didn’t arrive in time to participate. The Edinburgh Seventh-day Adventist Church Edinburgh Castles in Texas had their plane hijacked for hours. The extended delay caused them to miss their connecting flight to Eugene. The next available flight was due to arrive Sunday morning after the PBE ended.
Unsure when their luggage would be available, or if they could even find a car to rent, Leah Par, club manager of the Edinburg Castles, messaged W. Gene Clapp, NAD PBE coordinator, and asked him to pray for their predicament. The message arrived during Vespers on Friday evening, and Clapp left the entire PBE group in prayer.
“All this time I was thinking, if God has provided Elijah, I know He will provide for us — I just don’t know how,” Par said.
After the call to prayer, Helvis C. Moody, Southwestern Union Youth and Young Adult Ministries director, sprang into action, calling on everyone he could think of who owned a bus or could drive. . No buses were found, but rental cars were available.
“I told them, ‘Take a deep breath, and if there’s anything financial, the union will support. You’ve come this far, the kids have studied so hard,” Moody said. “Delayed does not mean denied.”
By 11 p.m., the club was able to collect all of its baggage in Seattle. They piled into rental cars and started driving. They arrived in Eugene at 4 a.m. on the Sabbath.
Edinburgh church youth pastor John Gonzalez said: ‘At this point just being here is the price…there were times when I thought to myself, ‘we are not maybe not there. “”
Despite the lack of sleep, the team placed first!
“The PBE is a life-changing event,” said Armando Miranda, Associate Director of NAD Youth Ministries. “If they can only remember one lesson, I hope they remember to emulate the faith that Ruth demonstrated. We are coming out of the pandemic and we can learn from Ruth how to keep moving forward in faith, whatever the circumstances.”
“COVID has changed a lot of things,” Miranda added. “These Pathfinders are a testimony of Adventists around the world. Their dedication to the study of the Word of God is an example for each of us. We need the Word of God more than ever.
The 2023 PBE division tests will take place again in April. The scouts will be tested on the New Testament Book of John.
— Jay Wintermeyer is director of communications for the North Pacific Union.