South American Bible competition brings Brazilian to La Sierra
Oct. 8, 2012
By Darla Martin Tucker
Leonardo Galleni de Oliveira always enjoyed the Bible knowledge competitions held by the churches in his city of Olimpia, Brazil. But the contest, Bom de Bíblia Universitário, offered by the South American Division of Seventh-day Adventists last year was much larger, encompassing contestants in eight countries. de Oliveira wasn’t certain he would win.
Last December, after at least seven phases of tests on his familiarity with the Bible, de Oliveira was announced the first place winner during a broadcast on Nuevo Tiempo, a Spanish Seventh-day Adventist television channel in Lima, Peru and part of the Hope Channel network. His prize—tuition for one academic quarter of English as a Second Language classes at La Sierra University as well as costs for airfare, room and board and other expenses.
He enrolled this fall at La Sierra to study grammar, reading skills, conversation and American culture. “I’ve been studying the Bible since I was a kid,” de Oliveira said with translation assistance from Josianne Ruberto, International Enrollment assistant. de Oliveira says he has read the Bible two or three times and reads passages daily along with the Sabbath School lesson.
de Oliveira works as a court clerk in the State Court of Justice of Sao Paulo, Brazil and has taken a leave of absence from his job to study at La Sierra. He communicates with his parents, sister and girlfriend through Skype. He has taken college math courses online and plans to continue his education, he said.
South American Division Youth Director Areli Barbosa developed the competition to inspire college students to read their Bibles. The Bible knowledge contest began at local churches in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Theologian and archaeology expert Dr. Rodrigo Silva, a professor at the Centro Universitário Adventist de Sao Paulo, prepared the test material which took into account the biblical, historical and cultural context of the Bible.
The competition concluded with a 95-question test for 15 finalists, one from each union of the South American Division. Lastly, the finalists answered five additional questions live on Nuevo Tiempo TV in Lima. The top three winners were then announced with de Oliveira in first place. The second place finisher received tuition for one academic quarter at an Adventist university in South America and the third place contestant received a computer and printer.
“The main purpose of this competition was to encourage students to study the Bible and really understand it, and through this study, encourage them to seek their mission and help spread the Word,” said Andreia Silveira, La Sierra Enrollment Services counselor.