One could compare three Owasso brothers to the brave biblical trio placed in a fiery furnace, as chronicled in the Book of Daniel.
However, unlike biblical youths Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the Wagners are using their wits for their favorite charity, not battling for their lives.
Jesse, Joshua and Daniel Wagner are contestants on “The American Bible Challenge,” a relatively new show on the Game Show Network, also called GSN. With their advanced Bible knowledge, the brothers are competing for a chance to win thousands of dollars for their favorite charity.
A spokeswoman for GSN said the brothers are scheduled to appear on an episode airing Thursday on the cable channel. The siblings are competing as the “Wagner Warriors” against 17 other teams for a cash prize and an opportunity to test their Bible IQ on national television.
Joshua Wagner, 23, the oldest of the three, said in a way he and his brothers have been preparing for the TV competition all their lives.
He said they are “PK's” — preacher's kids — who spent many years studying for and competing in local, regional and national Bible knowledge competitions. In fact, the brothers are four-time champions of the Bible Quiz Bowl, a national Assemblies of God ministry for youth that encourages study, memorization and application of Scripture.
“We grew up in a great Christian home. Our Dad was a pastor, and we've been involved in ministry. Getting involved with Bible Quiz took it to a whole other level,” he said. “It's almost as if we had been preparing for it for years and we didn't even know it.”
The brothers are the sons of the Rev. Kevin Wagner and his wife, Nicole. Joshua Wagner said he and his brother Jesse, 21, are students at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, and the third member of their Bible Challenge team, Daniel, 19, will be a freshman there in the fall. Joshua Wagner said they have a younger brother, Luke, who is homeschooled at their family home in Owasso, like all of his brothers before him. Joshua Wagner recently married. He and wife Michelle live in south Tulsa.
Joshua Wagner said the trio auditioned for the show in December in Dallas then flew to Hollywood in January after learning that they had been chosen to compete. He said the entire second season was taped in about a week and it has been difficult not to divulge how far the Wagner Warriors made it through the competition. He did say the semifinals episode is scheduled to air the week of May 9 and the season finale on May 23.
The most challenging aspect of the show was the portion called “Final Revelation,” Wagner said. He said this is the segment of the show where team members are challenged to answer as many Bible questions as possible in a certain amount of time.
“It's not only based on knowledge, it's based on speed. I would say that section is the most difficult part of the show,” he said.
Wagner, who plans to become a pastor, said the brothers perused some Bible trivia books to prepare for the televised competition and they studied the Old Testament more than the New Testament because much of their Bible Quiz experience focused on the New Testament, so they needed more Old Testament review.
Bible Challenge teams compete for contributions to their favorite charity and Wagner said he and his siblings have designated Wagner Ministries International, a global missions ministry founded by their father 13 years ago as their charity of choice.
Meanwhile, Wagner said he thinks the Bible show is encouraging families to discuss Scripture in a less formal setting than church. This family friendly aspect is part of the reason why the one-hour show has been popular since its first season last year, he said. “The American Bible Challenge” is GSN's highest-rated original series.
“In America today, there are a lot of shows that are unhealthy and that aren't family friendly,” he said. “In the midst of that, it's encouraging to me that you have shows like ‘The American Bible Challenge' and ‘The Bible' series on History that are clean and family friends.”
Wagner said he and his brothers planned to view Thursday's episode at a watch party at ORU's new student center.
AT A GLANCE
Cast your vote
People have an opportunity to vote for their favorite team on the second season of “The American Bible Challenge,” airing Thursdays on the Game Show Network (GSN). The Owasso brothers compete on the show as the “Wagner Warriors” and are among several Season 2 teams that hope to win a fan favorite contest. Fans may vote for their favorite team at www.gsntv.com through May 19. One vote per person, per day is allowed. The team with the most “fan favorite” votes will receive $10,000 and the title “The American Bible Challenge Fan Favorite.”