"The American Bible Challenge," hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy, premiered Thursday night on the Game Show Network and combined elements of faith and fun while contestants played to win money for their favorite charities.
The hour-long show pits three teams of contestants, with three contestants on each team, against one another in a Bible trivia competition that results in one team taking home $20,000 to donate to their charity of choice. At the end of the season, winning teams will also have the opportunity to compete for $100,000.
The premiere episode had its share of heartwarming moments, as individuals from each team – Minnie's Food Pantry, the Suburban Saints and the Gospel Geezers – shared their stories as a part of the show's introduction.
Ron Milton, an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient who was with the Suburban Saints team, shared his testimony about living rebelliously before beginning to live his life for God. He grew up in a Christian home, but after joining the U.S. Army at age 18 he began living a "party life." One day, though, a friend invited him to a Bible study, and it made a major impact on him.
"That following year I deployed to Iraq for one year and just spent a year seeing the worst in humanity," Milton explained. "And when you understand who Christ is, the worldview Christianity gives you, it gives you answers for why the world is so screwed up. It gives you answers for how the world can be fixed. And when you view your experiences in a war zone through those lenses, then it just makes more sense."
While charity and life stories are certainly an important part of the program, no show featuring Foxworthy would be complete without its fair share of humor. Foxworthy regularly shared his own humorous thoughts on biblical passages during the show, and puns like "Faithbook," "In the name of the Lord of the Rings," and "What do you Noah 'bout the ark?" were used as trivia category titles.
The show also featured "The American Bible Challenge Choir," which sang Christian songs including "Amazing Grace" when the show was entering and exiting its commercial breaks.
The winning team for the first episode was Minnie's Food Pantry, named after the charity they were competing for, consisting of Minnie's Food Pantry President Cheryl Jackson, her sister Lynette Shofner and sister-in-law Lanett Patt.
The three women were hysterical after their victory, crying out with joy after finding out the Suburban Saints failed to catch up in the point total during the "Final Revelation" round of play. They had every reason to celebrate, too, as the food pantry Jackson operates has seen some tough times.
Jackson shared a story about a time when she could no longer afford to pay the rent for her nonprofit, when one day she received a call to go to the pantry. When she arrived, she was met by some young people who were holding a sign that said, "When I was hungry you fed me," a reference to Matthew 25:35. The young people then presented her with $2,185 for her nonprofit.
There have been times when Jackson wasn't sure if she would have enough food to provide for the hundreds of people who depend on her charity, but her big win on "The American Bible Challenge" should alleviate her worries, at least for a while.
"To me that's the appeal of this show," said Foxworthy. "The people that are playing, they're not playing for themselves, they're playing to love on somebody else."
The two losing teams didn't walk away empty handed either. The Suburban Saints received $5,000 for City Crossroads, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works with low income families and multi-ethnic youth, and the Gospel Geezers were awarded $2,500 for their charity, Samaritan's Purse.
"The American Bible Challenge" airs on the Game Show Network on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET.