Every February for four years, in conjunction with national “I Love to Read” month, Steinbach (Man.) MB Church has run an “I love to read my Bible” promotion. In February 2015, 57 Sunday school students logged 270 hours of Bible reading.
Terri-Lee Broesky’s sons Gavin (Grade 6) and Keagan (Grade 4) read 40 and 35 hours respectively from Genesis and Daniel, earning the top two prizes…and a few pearls of wisdom.
Living in the remote town of Woodridge, Man., Gavin and Keagan spend two hours every day on the school bus. What might be a disadvantage has become “a wonderful bonus,” says Broesky. “The boys make good use of this time by reading or listening to the Bible on their iPods.”
They also pulled out their Bibles during February’s “Drop Everything and Read” moments at school.
Both boys, Gavin especially, learned to go to Scripture for help with issues they were facing. “Gavin struggled with becoming angry in unfair circumstances during sports,” says Broesky. “Memorizing Scripture to enforce the wisdom of being slow to anger made a big difference in his demeanor in those tough situations.”
Every Sunday school student received a reading log with space to draw or write about what they’re reading, explains SMBC Sunday school superintendent Martha Goertzen. Each week, preschoolers chose a small prize (pencil, balloon, or candy) for either looking at a Bible story book or having their parents read the Bible to them. Grades 1–6 received weekly Dollar Store prizes for each hour read.
At the end of the month, the top three elementary school readers won a grand prize: a night at a hotel, a swim pass or a gift card to the local Christian bookstore.
Broesky supported her sons’ efforts by asking about what they read that day and reading the passage herself. Keagan’s discovery of the enormity of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue (Daniel 3) led to some fun conversations. “We encourage the boys by doing family devotions after supper,” says Broeksy, “as well as guiding them to search for verses that apply to current situations.”
When Gavin invited a friend to Sunday school last fall, his friend’s first experience with church was the gift of a Children’s Adventure Bible. Now a regular attender, this child who was completely new to the stories of Jesus won third prize this year for reading his Bible – a testament to the support from SMBC’s Sunday school volunteers.
“I always feel blessed to see the effort our Sunday school leaders put into encouraging the children to be in the Word daily,” says Broesky.
Broeksy came away from the “I love to read my Bible” program with a stronger desire to weave the Bible into her family’s everyday life “to ensure this eagerness to read the Bible doesn’t fall away without the incentives.”
Her hope is that after the annual program exposes them to the Word, “they are then fuelled by the Scripture itself.”
“We emphasize that the real prize isn’t what you get in your hand,” says Goertzen. “The Bible they’re reading is the true treasure.”