Behind the Curtain: 2019 Finals Memories and a Miracle

If you watched NBBC in 2019, you may or may not remember a petite, shy girl with brown hair and glasses competing in the Junior division Finals. That girl was me. But there’s a story you may not have heard. I’m here today to give you a little peek behind the backstage curtain—and to tell you how amazingly God blessed me that day.

Finals Morning

Oh, no. This could not be happening. I tried to clear my throat to get rid of the hoarse feeling, but it did no good. What am I going to do? Finals is today!

I pushed the thought away—no sense in getting nervous already—and looked around. The hotel room was dark, but the glow around the curtains told me it was morning. I eased myself out of bed and took out my Bible to read through 1 Peter. When my family finally got up, I didn’t mention my throat to them. I didn’t want to worry them. Maybe it will just go away.

We went down to the lobby and ate breakfast. That is, my family ate breakfast. I was too nervous to eat much of anything. My sore throat kept bothering me, but I kept it to myself and tried to talk as little as possible to save my voice for Finals.

After breakfast, I went upstairs to get dressed and fix my hair. Then we left for the Ark Encounter. My parents, brothers, and grandpa crowded into our minivan for the semi-lengthy drive. My mom sat beside me and quizzed me on my longest passages for the first half of the ride. Then I looked out the window, thinking and praying about the upcoming challenge round. I still could hardly believe that I was going to be in the finals.

Backstage Memories

At the Ark Encounter, someone brought me to the backstage room. We rode down an elevator that said “Authorized Personnel Only.” I won’t say I didn’t get excited about that.

We girls were the first of the Junior finalists to arrive, so we had some time to chat before the boys got there. Finally, they joined us, and I greatly enjoyed the animated conversation that followed.

Since the Primary finals had ended so late, someone gave us box lunches. I’m not sure why, but some of the boxes contained both PB&J sandwiches and mustard. I didn’t take the hint, though. In fact, I didn’t eat very much at all.

I had a blast backstage. We had some hilarious conversations about my Minnesota pronunciation of a “bag of chips” and the likelihood of getting negative points in Finals. But soon, to my slight disappointment, it was time for us to go prepare for the actual round.

The auditorium at the Answers Center was filling quickly as we tried out our podiums (I needed to stand on a box, of course), tablets, and buzzers. I saw my (then) 11 year old brother and several other good friends sitting in the front row with the other perfect oralists. As I waited for someone to get my microphone on, I clowned around a bit, peeking around the curtains at the perfect oralists and then ducking behind them again. A few of them saw me and waved or pointed.

Later, as I stood backstage, waiting for the round to begin, I remember feeling awed by what the Lord had done in bringing me to this place. I had felt more unprepared for Nationals than ever before that year. In fact, I had spent the whole trip to Nationals trying to prepare myself for not making Semifinals, let alone Finals! But somehow, I was there. I remember softly whispering the words to a song that God had used in my life that year, reminding me that I could trust Him and His plan for me.

“I place my life within Your hands alone; Be still, my soul,” I whispered. Then I walked onto the stage.


Overall, the round was exciting. I managed to enjoy it, although I felt very nervous and awkward onstage. During the question rounds, I began to fall behind the other finalists. (I’ve never done well with buzzer questions.) Before my final recitation, I was in fifth place, but the scores were rather close.

While we waited to go onstage to hear our final scores, I was very tense. It felt like we would have to wait forever. “I place my life within Your hands alone,” I prayed once again to calm myself. At last they “welcomed us back to the stage.”

Fifth place was announced first. I waited anxiously as the moderator paused briefly for dramatic effect before saying my name.

I let out the breath I had been holding. So that’s what it’s going to be. Fifth place. It may seem like the worst place, but I know it’s the best because it’s God’s plan.

A broad smile spread slowly over my face as I relaxed for the first time in several hours. Thank you, Lord.

I listened for the places of the other Finalists with anticipation. Somehow I couldn’t find a reason to feel bad about where God had placed me. For the rest of that day, God in His grace simply blessed me with a joyful awe of what He had done in allowing me to be in Finals for the first time ever.

After Finals ended, many good friends enveloped me in hugs and handshakes. But not five minutes after the round ended, my head started to hurt. At first, I thought it was because one of my brothers was driving me crazy. Then I wondered if maybe the stage lights were giving me a headache. It went away after a little while, though, and I went on to enjoy the rest of my day.

Fun After Finals (and a miracle)

Although it was late, I decided to watch the Senior round with a friend before heading to the Ark to eat supper. As a result, I was very hungry since I had barely eaten anything all day. My supper was also somewhat rushed, since we needed to get back in time for the Closing Ceremony.

During the worship that evening, I noticed that my voice was very hoarse, making it difficult to sing. But I paid it very little mind as the day’s activities ended with a celebration.

I won’t go into great detail about the Evening on the Ark. It was crazy but fun and involved a lot of high fives, pointing pictures, hot chocolate, laughing, running, and hollering. I will probably never forget some of the hilarious memories made that night.

By the end of the night’s activities, however, I had almost completely lost my voice. Playing card games back at the hotel, I could barely say “Blitz!” I realized then that I had been sick all day. But the Lord had graciously taken away my symptoms for the duration of Finals! Ever since then, I’ve thought of this experience as my little Finals miracle. I went to bed that night feeling awed by the many ways God had blessed me.

My family stayed in Kentucky with another Bible Bee family for two extra days so that we could see the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. I had a lot of fun, even though I could hardly talk the entire time. I didn’t get my voice completely back for at least three days.

When my family at last returned home, I was flooded with a bunch of schoolwork and PBBWS. Even so, I carried with me a memory that reminded me that God’s plan is perfect and that He always works everything out for our good. And that’s why we can place our life in His hands.

Photo Credit: Mrs. Kipp

Angela Kipp
Angela Kipp

Lover of Jesus, Scripture, daydreaming, reading, writing, cooking, singing, and chocolate!

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