Eighty-four Teams Achieve First Place at the ABE/PBE Union Finals in Aberdeen

Eighty-four Teams Achieve First Place at the ABE/PBE Union Finals in Aberdeen

AberdeenWeiers Coetser / Hellevi Walker

Over 2000 Adventurers and Pathfinders, including staff and spectators, converged on the city of Aberdeen on 9 March for a British Union level of the popular worldwide Bible quiz, known as The Adventurer and Pathfinder Bible Experience. It was a day filled with nervous energy, intense concentration, but also rhythmic sound and excitement as 124 participating teams set their sights on achieving the coveted “First Place.” Teams who reach this goal become eligible to participate in the Division Finals, scheduled to take place in the Netherlands, this April. The day brought a fully immersive experience for all the participants, and in the end, there was an added celebration when 73 Pathfinders filled in commitment cards to devote their lives to Jesus through Bible Study and baptism.

It was a cloudy, damp day in Aberdeen with low clouds blowing in from the North Sea. Locals would aptly describe the weather with the Scottish term "dreich”, meaning dreary or bleak. Known as the granite city, the grey buildings and the grey clouds create a unique atmosphere that adds to the allure of the city. There are plenty of days when the “foehn” effect means that Aberdeen basks in bright sunshine. Not on the 9th March!

But on this day the weather did not matter for more than a few minutes, because when the participants, wearing immaculately ironed uniforms with a full complement of sashes, scarfs, berets, shoulder epaulettes, badges and more made it through the early morning queues to enter the P&J Live venue, they found themselves in a vast hall where chairs were arranged in clusters of seven; one cluster for each team and a “grader” who ensured that their answers were correctly recorded and submitted to the recording teams and judges.

The programme format for the day was simple. The Adventurer event took place in the morning, and it was immediately followed by the Pathfinder event in the afternoon. Each of these events started with an opening ceremony that included a song service and a flag parade. Following that, the focus shifted to the Bible quiz. In 2024, the quiz covered the books of Joshua and Judges. This was followed by a presentation by an inspiring guest speaker, and then the results were announced to ructions of applause and jubilation. A final flag parade would end the business of the day.

The quiz questions were designed to challenge the knowledge and memories of the participants. Each team who had made it to this level would have spent hours learning and memorising Scripture every week. At the beginning, there were quite a few nerves, but this soon dissipated as the quiz master posed the questions from the front of the auditorium and the children were rewarded for their hard work by being able to collaborate and answer the questions.

The flag parades were especially memorable. The North England Conference drum corps marched in with perfect choreography and awe-inspiring rhythm. To give the event an authentic Scottish flavour, they were accompanied by the stirring sound of bagpipes played by Aberdeen local, Siobhan Monaghan. The drum corps accompanied her as she played “Scotland the Brave.” Everyone felt deep emotion and awe as she played a soulful version of Amazing Grace and other hymns.

James Botha, President of the Scottish Mission, expressed his delight at a national event being hosted in Scotland. He highlighted the impressive efforts of the planning team in organising the complex event and his appreciation for the bagpipe performance by "Chivvy", which captivated the audience’s attention.

The guest speakers for the day touched on themes that were relevant to the sea of youthful faces in the audience. Talking to the Adventurers, Cedrene Botha, appearing as “Professor Noodle Brain” in her signature “intelligent scientist” garb spoke about how to cope under pressure. She performed an experiment with different bottles. One bottle was just filled with air. The other was filled with water, and it had a lid on. The bottle that only had air quickly crumpled under the slightest pressure. The filled water bottle was resilient and strong. “When our lives are filled with God and the things of God, we become resilient and strong like that! We bounce back under even the most difficult circumstances.”

Speaking to the Pathfinders, Pastor Jesse Samuel from the South England Conference, focused on the story of how Israel conquered the city of Jericho. He invited volunteers to march around the imaginary city, illustrating how our faith empowers us to tackle life's obstacles and challenges in a unique and impactful manner. He ended his presentation with an appeal for Pathfinders to dedicate their lives to Jesus and 73 young people responded and filled in commitment cards.

Of course, the teams were all very interested to hear their results. A large team of judges were collating the final scores. Finally, the announcements came, one after the other. An impressive 84 teams out of 124 achieved first place! 6 teams from the Irish Mission, 35 from the North England Conference, 4 from the Scottish Mission, 38 from the South England Conference, and 1 from the Welsh Mission. Other teams secured commendable 2nd and 3rd place designations. Each announcement was celebrated with rapturous joy. Despite the varying results, all teams benefited from their engagement with the biblical stories throughout the preceding three months, fostering spiritual growth.

The 84 teams that achieved first place are now eligible to travel to Rotterdam in the Netherlands for the TED final, which takes place on the 13th April.  

The weather was no better when the event finally drew to a close after 7 pm. A soft drizzle was falling. Some teams were heading back home, others were going to explore the Aberdeen city streets. The city’s 727 bus provided an easy way into town for some of the teams. They were filled with happiness and pride for what they had experienced on the day. They sang all the way into the city with amazed Aberdonian residents listening to the words, “We are soldiers in the army…”; “We are marching over to Jerusalem.” The blessings of the day spilt over into the lives of others, who desperately needed these blessings and who yearned for a ray of light in their lives.

Reflecting on the event a day after, David, from the planning team, shared his sentiments “What a blessing it’s been to be involved in this event…it took much energy, sacrifice, and determination…but God is good…I’ve been reflecting on the words of Jesus in John 6, that we should not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life. That latter labour was what we were involved in, and I recognise that we have actually received more than what we have given…”.

Special thanks are extended to Njabulo and Mthoko Ndlovu (SM Pathfinder Sponsors), Akunna Ugoala, Colin Hanna, David Morake, Joy Banda, Kevin Johns (BUC Youth Director), Samu Ncube, Hellevi Walker, as well as all national and local leaders, volunteers, and P&J Live staff who contributed their time and efforts to make this event a success.


Photo credit: Jimmy Botha, Cedrene Botha, Weiers Coetser