In the Atlas Room of the President’s Hotel in Athens, Greece, Adventurers and Pathfinders from across the Trans-European Division (TED), and some from the Inter-European Division (EUD), gathered for the Adventurer and Pathfinder Bible Experience, described by Dejan Stojkovic (TED Youth and Pathfinder director) as “one of the most amazing programs the Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division is running.” In attendance were not only Adventurers and Pathfinders but also moms, dads, guardians, club leaders, coaches, area coordinators, and conference and union directors dedicated to uplifting the Bible in an age-relevant way.
Imagine yourself in the room for a moment. It’s morning, and there is a high level of excitement. Reality check: Young children are competitive. There is a lot of noise, laughter, and cheers; there are moments of silence as they all do some thinking to remember the right answer, and they are immensely enjoying themselves in their huddles. At the back of the room, Adventurer parents who are watching are as excited about this event as are their children. The afternoon is no different for the Pathfinders, except there are so many teams that no parents are able to fit in the room!
Are Children and Youth Really Studying the Bible?
Make no mistake about it: The Adventurer Bible Experience (ABE) and Pathfinder Bible Experience (PBE) are more than fun quizzes for children and teens. Given the task of getting to know the Gospel of John for the last six-to-nine months, reading, questioning, and of course remembering John’s picture of Christ becomes embedded in impressionable minds. For the Pathfinders, they were required to get to know the entirety of John’s Gospel. For the Adventurers, they focussed on chapters 1–6.
Why does Stojkovic think this is an amazing program? “Because in a time when young people today are not so engaged in reading and studying the Bible, ABE and PBE are addressing the issue in a tangible way.”
Judy Plaatjes-McKie, personal assistant to Stojkovic, describes the whole experience as “fascinating, because the children are not just learning the words and stories John shares literally, but also discovering the context, so they can then intelligently gain lessons for living today.” In the grown-up world, it’s called discipleship!
Through regional, conference, and union-level testing, the qualifying teams ended up in Athens. Of the 31 Adventurer teams, one came from the Netherlands, one from Estonia, two from Poland, and the remaining 27 from the British Union Conference (BUC). For the Pathfinder experience, 64 teams qualified, consisting of 21 teams from Romania (EUD) and three teams from Ukraine (who connected via the Polish Union Pathfinder director, who has been working with Ukraine since the start of the crisis). Five teams were present from Poland, one team from the Netherlands, one from Macedonia, and one from Cyprus, with the remaining 32 teams coming from the BUC. It’s worth mentioning the Pathfinder group from Cyprus was led by Marica Mirilov, who not only prepared the Pathfinders for the PBE but also got the whole church involved in studying John together.
A total of 95 teams were present in Athens, although not all team members could be physically there, so a number of teams were hybrid (some present and some linked in digitally).
Winners and Losers?
Who won? Every club won because the spirit of the experience (note the wording—not “competition”) is designed to create an atmosphere where “there’s no single winner, not only one first place”—where one supreme club excels at getting all the questions right over all the others. Nevertheless, clubs do achieve first, second, or third place at the final based on the percentage marks.
For Plaatjes-McKie, this was her first time in person at a Bible Experience event. “[I have] always done the background work for its preparation, but now it was the first time I was there, and it was great. I really liked witnessing the excitement the children have, knowing that it’s not just a competition for them. In addition, they also get the thrill out of [the] benefit of traveling.”
Stojkovic added, “We also need to give a mention to the excellent team of judges, scorekeepers, quiz masters, time keepers, area coordinators, club leaders, and of course the teams who put these questions together for us every year. They work behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly, and without them, we could never run such an event.”
However, sometimes at these events, strange, unpredictable things occur that demonstrate the commitment and determination of the children to get the job done. One group of children got stuck in the hotel lift. Not to miss out, they used their mobile devices to connect with the group in the room virtually and answer all the questions. Another admirable feat involved the team from Galway, Ireland, formed by only two Adventurers. When one of them was unable to travel to Athens because of visa regulations, the other picked up the torch, represented Galway all by himself, and took first place.
A Call to Action
“It’s a reality that there are,” says Stojkcovic, “still Adventurer and Pathfinder clubs in the TED who have yet to participate in this excellent faith-affirming activity, which builds confidence in the Word of God. I want to appeal to my Adventurer and Pathfinder leader friends to begin preparing now for the next Bible Experience, which is due to take place on April 13, 2024.”
What are the books to study for 2024? Yes, they are already posted! For the PBE, the invitation is to study the books of Joshua and Judges, while ABE will concentrate on Joshua 1–6 and Judges 1–5.
Adventists everywhere wish them well, using the words of Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (NKJV).
Go Pathfinders! Go Adventurers!