Back to Hall of Fame

John Anderson

John Anderson

Columbus First Free Methodist Church
Columbus, IN
Quizzed 1969-1972
Inducted 2015


When I was a pre-teen, growing up in Columbus, Indiana, I had dreams of playing basketball or driving a race car in the INDY 500. Of course, growing to the full height of 5’10” and coming from a family that did not the exorbitant amount of money it takes to race in the INDY 500, my child-hood ambitions were not meant to be.

I was not raised in a religious family and specifically not a Christian family. I began attending the Free Methodist Church because I wanted to get to know a young lady who was a member of the Free Methodist Church. Eventually, I was introduced to Bible Quizzing and the competitiveness of Quizzing intrigued me.

The Columbus, Indiana Free Methodist Church is located at the corner of Maple Avenue and 22nd Street. In 1969 I started attending the church and before long I was asked to join the Church league basketball team; I also played the lead role in the Christmas play and participated in other FMY activities. But it would not be until 1983 that I would accept Christ as my personal Saviour.

In early 1970, I was invited to the FMY Bible Quiz practice and I thought it was interesting. It was competitive, it was physical with the jumping aspect, and I thought it would be an opportunity to meet girls and have fun. I was a casual participant on the 1969/70 team when we Quizzed on 1st and 2nd Corinthians.

In 1970/71, I became more focused on the techniques of Bible Quiz study, rules and competition.   It was during the process of learning to memorize segments of Matthew that I discovered a technique that helped me to overcome my dyslexia. I also discovered that Bible Quizzing could provide peer-approval and acceptance which was not a part of my home-life. My parents marriage full of turmoil, alcoholism and unfaithfulness; I was often left on my own and rarely received approval or encouragement.

In 1971/72 the Columbus Free Methodist Bible Quiz team competed in every tournament within the Wabash Conference and a few nearby conferences, too. In all of the tournaments we competed in during that year we lost a total of 3 quizzes (2 quizzes during the season and 1 quiz at the finals and no team beat us twice). I was the team Captain.

As I participated in Bible Quizzing, I was impressed with the compassionate Christian attitude of Quizzers and their Coaches. The Kaufmann Family Quizzers of Greenville, Coach Stan Hoke of West Morris Street and many others made such an impression on me that in spite of my personal un-Christ-like Quizzing persona, I could not help but to be moved by their compassion and gentle spirits. I was, in many ways, envious of what (or rather Who) they had and I did not.

Early in the 1971/72 Bible Quiz year, I set as our team goal to win the Championship. So we dedicated ourselves to do anything it would take to win. As Captain, I was the rules expert and memorized both books. Our number one quizzer memorized both books and could start in the middle and quote a verse in alternating directions without missing a word. However, since no one on the team was a Christian, our behavior, morals, and ethics became inappropriate and caused three coaches to abandon the team.

While Quizzing I was perplexed by Paul’s writings, especially Romans chapter 7. When Paul went into detail about ‘what he wanted to do but could not do and therefore did the things that he did not want to do’; I believe that Paul was a hypocrite. Later I would understand that without the presence of Christ in my life and the tutor-ship of the Holy Spirit I could not comprehend the meaning of God’s Word.

In 1972 at the University of Illinois, we won the International Championship of Bible Quizzing. But it was a hallow victory. Without Christ, it was only a plaque, a prize Bible and a $1,000 scholarship that would never be used.

Although I became very successful in business my personal life began falling apart. In the mid-1977 I became a cocaine addict. In October of 1982 I lost everything and was homeless. But while homeless in San Diego, California, I went to a Rescue Mission where Romans 6:23 was boldly painted on the side of their building. I was former Championship Quizzer who had memorized Romans and Galatians; I knew Romans 6:23… For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When I saw Romans 6:23, I thought that God was mocking me for the mess I had made of my life. After all, I was a very successful young business man who had anything he wanted but threw it all away; I had a failed marriage; I was a drug addict; I was a failure; and now I was homeless. God had to be mocking me by having Romans 6:23 painted on the side of a Rescue Mission for me!

For three months I lived as a homeless man on the street in San Diego.   Every day I would go to the Rescue Mission for a free meal or to use their showers or to receive clean clothes and every day I would read Romans 6:23. Finally, I came to realize what was missing in my life; it was the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. On January 17, 1983 at 1:25PM I fell to my knees in the old San Diego Rescue Mission and accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour.

The verse of scripture I hated (Romans 6:23) I now loved. That verse and Bible Quizzing were used by God to rescue me!

During the final months of 1982 and into 1983, I can attest to the fact that our Lord and Saviour literally used Bible Quizzing to Rescue me! Because I had memorized Romans and Galatians and understood the meaning of “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”, God used those words to prick my heart and bring me to the realization that it was Christ and Christ alone who would and could rescue me from this body of death.

God delivered me from my addiction to cocaine. He gave me a new heart. He gave me a love for Him and the scriptures and an infinity and love for the lost, especially the homeless and impoverished who are at a high risk of perishing without our Saviour. Bible Quizzing made and continues to make a difference in my life, even today.

After accepting Jesus as my Saviour on January 17, 1983, I joined the San Diego Rescue Mission’s discipleship program which provides recovery from homelessness in a Christ-centered atmosphere. Later that year, after much prayer and guidance, I was asked by the Rescue Mission’s Executive Director to join the Rescue Mission’s staff. During the next eight years I did everything there is to do at a rescue mission, serving as the Assistant Director from 1989 through 1990.

In January of 1991, when the Executive Director retired, I was asked by the Board of Directors to serve as interim Executive Director; which I did until August of 1993. In August of 1993, I was called to the Bay Area Rescue Mission where I was ordained in 1994. On January 1, 2000, I became the President/CEO of the Bay Area Rescue Mission which is located in Richmond, California, across the Bay from San Francisco.

I am a member of Valley Bible Church in Hercules, California and serve on their Radio program advisory Board. I’ve served as President of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions Pacific District and assisted with the founding of two additional Rescue Missions. I’ve also served on several other Boards over the years.

In 2015, I contacted Free Methodist Bible Quiz with the idea of implementing Bible Quiz Bible Study at the Bay Area Rescue Mission. I believed the Lord was leading us to establish a Bible Quiz program, modeled after FMY Bible Quizzing, for the formerly homeless men and women in our Discipleship programs.

In May, 2015, I purchased and donated 2 sets of jump chairs to the Bay Area Rescue Mission. In June we began a summer introductory Bible Quiz Bible Study program and launched it by Quizzing on Romans Chapter 8. When the next FMY Bible Quiz year starts in September of 2015, the Bay Area Rescue Mission will begin a Bible Quiz Bible Study course which will coincide with the Free Methodist program and we will study the book of The Acts of the Apostles.

As of July, 12, 2015, the Bay Area Rescue Mission has 60 formerly homeless men and 30 formerly homeless women in our Bible Quiz program. If God permits (and the Free Methodist Bible Quiz Program allows), we hope to bring a men’s team and a women’s team to participate in QUIC Quizzing in 2016 Bible Quiz Finals in Seattle, Washington.

It is truly an amazing honor to be included in the Free Methodist Bible Quiz Hall of Fame. Yes, God used Bible Quizzing and Rescue Mission Ministry to touch my heart and save and rescue me.

Questions & Answers