Adventurer and Pathfinder Bible Experience Convenes in Athens

Digging into John's Gospel. Grown-ups call it discipleship!

News April 27, 2023

27 April 2022 | Athens, Greece [David Neal]

We are in the Atlas Room of the President’s Hotel, Athens, Greece. Adventurers and Pathfinders from across the Trans-European Division (TED), and some from the Inter-European Division (EUD) are gathering for the Adventurer and Pathfinder Bible Experience, described by Dejan Stojkovic (TED Youth and Pathfinder Director) as “one of the most amazing programmes the Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division is running.” In attendance are not only Adventurers, Pathfinders, but mums, dads, guardians, club leaders, coaches, area coordinators, conferences, directors, and union directors dedicated to uplifting the Bible in an age-relevant way.

Room filled with pathfinders and adventurers ready for the Bible Experience

Come with me deeper into the room for a moment. It’s morning and there is a high level of excitement. Reality check – young children are competitive, there is a lot of noise, there is laughter and cheers, there are moments of silence as they all do some thinking to remember the right answer, and they are immensely enjoying themselves in their huddles. At the back of the room, Adventurer parents who are watching on are as excited about this event as are their children. The afternoon is no different for the Pathfinders, except that there are so many teams that no parents are able to fit in the room!

Are children and  youth really studying the Bible?

Make no mistake about it, the Adventurer Bible Experience (ABE), and Pathfinder Bible Experience (PBE) is more than fun quizzes for the children and teens. Given the task of getting to know the gospel of John for the last six to nine months, reading, questioning, and of course remembering John’s picture of Christ becomes embedded on the impressionable minds. For the Pathfinders they were required to get to know the whole of John’s gospel. For the Adventurers, they focussed on John 1-6. Why does Stojkovic think this is an amazing programme? “Because in a time when young people today are not so engaged in reading and studying the Bible, ABE and PBE are addressing the issue in a tangible way.” Judy Plaatjes-McKie (Personal Assistant to Dejan Stojkovic) describes the whole experience as “fascinating, because the children are not  just learning the words and stories John shares literally, but also discovering the context, so they can then intelligently gain lessons for living today.” In the grown-up world we call it discipleship!

Through regional, conference, and union level testing, the qualifying teams ended up in Athens.  Of the 31 Adventurer teams, one came from the Netherlands, one from Estonia, two from Poland, and the remaining 27 teams from the British Union Conference (BUC). For the Pathfinder experience, 64 teams qualified, consisting of  21 teams from Romania (EUD) and three teams from Ukraine (who connected via the Polish Union Pathfinder director, who has been working with Ukraine since the start of the crisis). Five teams were present from Poland, one team from the Netherlands, one from Macedonia, and one from Cyprus, with the remaining 32 teams coming from the BUC. It’s worth mentioning the Pathfinder group from Cyprus, led by Marica Mirilov, who prepared not only the Pathfinders for the PBE but also got the whole church involved in studying John together.

A total of 95 teams were present in Athens, although not all team members could be physically with us, so a number of teams were hybrid (some present and some linked in digitally).

Winners and Losers?

Who won? Every club won, because the spirit of the experience (note the wording – not ‘competition’) is designed to create an atmosphere where “there’s no single winner, not only one first place”, where one supreme club excels at getting all the questions right – over all the others. But – clubs achieve a ‘first’, ‘second’ or ‘third’ place at the final based on the percentage marks the club receives.

Bible Experience, Greece 2023. Team holding certificates

For Plaatjes-McKie this was her first time in person at a Bible Experience event having “always done the background work for its preparation, but now it was the first time I was there, and it was great. I really liked witnessing the excitement the children have, knowing that it’s not just a competition for them. In addition, they also get the thrill out of benefit of travelling.”  Dejan Stojkovic added, “We also need to give a mention to the excellent team of judges, score keepers, quiz masters, time keepers, area coordinators, club leaders and of course the teams who put these questions together for us every year. Tthey work behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly and without them we could never run such an event”.

But sometimes at these events strange and unpredictable things occur which demonstrate the commitment and determination of our children to ‘get the job done’. One group of children got stuck in the hotel lift. Not to miss out, they used their mobiles to connect with the group in the room virtually and answer all the questions. Another admirable feat was about the team from  Galway, Ireland,  formed by only two adventurers. When one of them was unable to travel to Athens, because of visa regulations, the other picked up the torch, represented Galway all by himself,  and took the first place.

A Call to Action

“Its a reality that there are”, says Stojkcovic, “still Adventurer and Pathfinder clubs in the TED who have yet to participate in this excellent faith affirming actvity which builds confidence in the Word of God. I want to appeal to my Adventurer and Pathfinder leader friends to begin preparing now for the next Bible Experience, which is due to take place on 13 April 2024.

And the books to study for 2024? Yes, they are already posted! For the PBE, the invitation is to study the books of Joshua and Judges, while ABE will concentrate only on Joshua 1 – 6 and Judges 1-5.

We wish them well using the words of Joshua 1:9 (NKJV):

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Go Pathfinders! Go Adventurers!

[Photos: Dejan Stojkovic]

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