Jerren Brewster of the South Caribbean Conference emerged with the highest score at the Caribbean Union Conference (CARU) Territory-wide Bible Connection Finals, held in Trinidad at the University of the Southern Caribbean on October 15, 2022. The South Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists gave overwhelming support to Jerren and was delighted to have the honor of representing the Union, for the first time.
At the end of the 19th annual CARU event, Jarren led the field of 11 regional finalists with a score of 895 points and had answered all 75 questions in a time of 6:11.559. Jerren is a member of the Mafekin SDA Church in Mayaro and received the Moses award, worth US$1,000. He is headed to Jamaica for the division finals, to be held on November 19, 2022.
Keith George of the Tobago Mission of Seventh-day Adventists scored 865 points in a time of 5:02.362, was awarded second place and received US$300. Xabisa Hamilton of the Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists had a time of 8:47.369. Xabisa won the finals for the last three consecutive years and her strategy was analyzed by this year’s cadre of determined youth, who were prepared for the challenge. Interestingly, Keith George and Xabisa Hamilton answered the same number of questions correctly.
‘It’s a great blessing to see the impact this initiative is having in the lives of so many young people’, said Dr. Kern Tobias, President of the Caribbean Union Conference. “We want young people to walk closer with Jesus, learn about His life, passion and ministries, so that they in turn can continue impacting the lives of people in their communities every day and every week’. After the announcement of the first-place awardee, Jarren felt the weight of an entire year’s journey and three previous competitions lift from his shoulders and he expressed gratitude for the prayers of many church members. He contained his excitement with a smile and shared that his achievement was a mix of hard work, tough decisions, and personal sacrifice – yet one that led him to a joyful experience full of blessings and opportunities.
‘It is the first time I have gotten this far’, said Jarren. ‘I’ve been dreaming of getting here and taking part in this event to represent all young people from my church. It’s a journey that started one year ago and an investment of three to four hours per day studying the Book of Revelation’. To focus on memorizing and analyzing the Bible, he scaled back entertainment time on the internet and television and this led to his developing a stronger bond with God and the scriptures.
Keith maintained a quiet confidence after his experience during the 2021 finals. His Bible knowledge netted him the second-place spot in the finals, for the second year. He was surrounded by family and friends who traveled from Tobago to support him. Preparing for the event was a family affair and he shared, ‘My mother and family members would quiz me, ever so often’.
Xabisa Hamilton indicated that she had to invest lots of time. ‘I started studying since November, last year. I read through the Bible countless times – while cooking [and] doing house chores. I made the Book of Revelation my study for my devotional time. Focusing on the study of the Bible meant giving up social time and study time at school. I am happy. It helped to change my perspective on lots of things in the Book of Revelation. That would not have happened if it [were] not for Bible Connection. I am seeing Jesus in a different light and where the world is going. The meaning of things was made clear to me’, said the budding neurosurgeon. Xabisa is a fourth year Biology major at the University of Guyana.
‘Communion with God is at the heart of the youth ministries Bible study initiative into which the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in the Caribbean Union, has invested so many financial resources’, said Pastor Marvyn Smith, Youth Director of the Caribbean Union Conference. ‘This year [is] the 19 th annual territory-wide Bible initiative in which thousands of young people across churches have dug deep into assigned Bible books and readings in an effort to enrich their spiritual life. Studying God’s Word has become like second nature to the youth across the territory. We hope to strengthen that and implement new initiatives that will help support this thrust’.
Dr. Clive Dottin is a historian for the Church in the region and commented that despite not hosting the finals for two of its nineteen years, the spiritual legacy was evident among participants. ‘Challenging young people to cling to the Bible truths is what this is all about’, said Pastor Anthony Hall, quiz leader for the finals. He was delighted that the organisers continued to include the theological component of the program. The Theology Department of the University of the Southern Caribbean facilitated lectures which offered insights into and an analysis of the Book of Revelation. Since Public Campus Ministry is so closely aligned with Youth Ministry, Pastor Hall hopes that organizers would allow Seventh-day Adventist youth who attend now Seventh-day Adventist institutions to participate, in 2023.
Bible Connection is an annual event sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Inter- American Division. The initiative allows for youth, at every level of the Church, to study selected portions of the Bible and engage in stimulating competition which benefits everyone. In 2023, the CARU finals will be held in St. Vincent.