Religion feature: Program focuses on learning scripture

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed Aubrey Barragan, 4, enjoys game time after attending a Faithful Bible Investigators lesson at High Plains Baptist Church, according to Barragan’s mother, Rachel Barragan.

Benna Sayyed

Editor’s note: This is a continuing series on church outreach programs in the Clovis area.

Betty Winn has invited schoolmates and friends to her church since she was in first grade, and many have visited.

According to her mother, Wendi Winn, Betty has managed to recruit children to participate in the church’s Faithful Bible Investigators program since it started about a month ago.

The program was started by Chris Boatman, senior pastor at High Plains Baptist Church. It focuses on teaching children to learn the word of God by memorizing scripture.

“Once they come here they realize that you can learn and play at the same time and it won’t be like boring,” said Betty Winn, 11.

“When I’m reading my Bible at home I’ll be like ‘Oh, I know that verse,’” Betty Winn said.

Betty Winn said she learns and retains Bible verses easily. Her favorite is John 3:16.

Volunteer church members pick up children by van Wednesday evenings to attend sessions. Boatman said there are typically between 15 to 30 children at a session.

He said the program strives to recruit children, especially those who live in dysfunctional homes where the tendency to attend church could be low.

“There are so many children who will never step foot in God’s house unless somebody goes and gets them,” said Boatman, who has been a pastor for 30 years.

“We focus on teaching children that there’s a god that loves them and for them to serve and it keeps them off the streets and gives them a focus rather than being unfocused.”

A Faithful Bible Investigators session unfolds in three parts:

• Students are taught to memorize Bible verses and later quote the verses to program volunteers.

• A devotion period in which volunteers teach students a Bible story.

• Students finally get to burn off energy gained from snack time during play time.

When students learn scriptures, they earn Faithful Bible Investigators bucks they can use to purchase toys from a store set up in the church. Students also get to earn books and T-shirts displaying the Faithful Bible Investigators logo and bible scripture.

“It has been going excellent,” Boatman said. “We just had a young man about 12 years old who had never been in church in his life. He was sharing how excited he was about being able to quote John 3:16.”

Boatman said the program was successful at his last church where he ran it for 16 years. He said many children who participated in Faithful Bible Investigators at his last church are now productive missionaries.

Wendi Winn said her daughter’s memory of scripture is greatly improving.

“Kids are so good at memorization,” she said. “Adults have a 100 other things going on but kids don’t. They just soak it up like a sponge.”

She said the program helps her daughter keep a positive attitude and instills morals. She said it also teaches her daughter effective study habits and helps her make friends by spreading word of the program among classmates.