Ripples of the 2021 Adventurer and Pathfinder Bible Experience reached the shores of Cyprus and helped a Pathfinder cope with the worst of the COVID-19 situation.
On Sabbath, 1 May 2021, the award ceremony acknowledged and celebrated the impressive biblical knowledge of European Adventurers and Pathfinders, who were joined by two guest teams from America. However, for each participant, the process of preparation is the most valuable experience.
The final event was organized by the Trans-European Division (TED) youth director, Zlatko Musija, and his enthusiastic team of Pathfinder directors, which proved to have had a particular impact on Pathfinders in countries where the church is small and isolated and especially on the youth who are going through difficulties.
What is Adventurer (ABE) and Pathfinder Bible Experience (PBE)?
The simple concept is a quiz-based Bible study program for children to learn more about the Bible. Originating in North America, PBE is facilitated through Pathfinder clubs for children of ages 10–15. It was then embraced by teams here in Europe and then, more recently, introduced to more Pathfinders across the Trans-European Division. Pathfinders hail from countries as far apart as Latvia in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, Poland in Central Europe, and the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in the West, down to the sunny shores of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
A number of years ago, the British Union Conference (BUC) also realized this program would be a good way to encourage the younger Adventurers (ages 4–9) to study and learn the Bible as well, since they were already listening and learning with older siblings, so ABE was born.
This year, 43 Pathfinder teams and 27 Adventurer teams qualified for the final online testing on 24 April 2021. Unlike some competitions, a first-place award awaits any team that scores 90% and above.
For this year’s testing, Adventurers and Pathfinders studied the New Testament books of James and 1 and 2 Peter, with the addition of Hebrews for just the Pathfinders.
The Cyprus Experience
Cyprus formed two Pathfinder teams: The Light of Nicosia and the Salt of Limassol. Not to be outdone, a third team, Alphamega, was formed by very supportive parents who, in the same way as did the children, met on a daily basis via Zoom to study the biblical texts and challenge their memory skills to qualify for the finals.
Dr. Branislav Mirilov, the president of the Cyprus region, was amazed by the whole program. "At first, I could not believe that the children, as well as the adults, would commit themselves to four months of daily meetings and memorizing chapter after chapter of the Scripture." He continued, with a big smile, "They proved me wrong. I would love to see the ABE/PBE program introduced to every European country and worldwide. It brings out the best in our children and equips them to be actively involved in church services and the church mission."
PBE helped one Pathfinder through an agonizing COVID experience.
Katerina Goufioti is a team member of the Salt of Limassol, who was awarded first place in the finals. For her, the daily PBE study session had the added bonus of helping her through the most agonizing time of her life.
In March 2021, her grandmother, uncle, and father all contracted COVID-19. All three were rushed to the local hospital, and as the situation worsened, her uncle and father were moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) in Nicosia General Hospital. Sadly, after a week, her uncle passed away, and the fight for the life of her father, Jimmy, was hanging by a thread. That fight continued for five weeks.
With great appreciation, Katerina shared about her PBE friends: "Every day before our PBE Bible study, one of my friends would fervently pray for my father, and I could focus on the Word of God. That gave me the courage to face each new day." It is a miracle that Katerina’s father pulled through, and he is making gradual progress in the ICU at Limassol General Hospital.
ABE and PBE, although done virtually, is a real experience of connecting in a time of COVID isolation, and the Friday evening Zoom vespers before the final testing gave a chance for participants to separate into smaller groups by entering chat rooms. Here, they made new friends from different countries across Europe. Many participants got hands-on experience in being team captains and scribes. Some even got a chance to be main speakers at the awards ceremony. A clear message was shared of God’s presence in time of suffering and confusion. An appeal was made to the Gen Zers to be the generation for Christ.
Both APE and PBE can be positive experiences for many more children as they study in depth two books of the Old Testament, 1 Kings and Ruth, in preparation for the 2022 final (please note that Adventurers will only be tested on 1 Kings 1–6 and Ruth).
Dr. Mirilov concluded, “The exposure to the Word of God will impact the participants’ whole life and ripple to eternity.”