It's the morning of October 23, 2019. Students shift uncomfortably in the audience. The speaker asks them to come forward if they were moved by the message. Fears of being the only one spread around the room. The last song plays, the tension builds, no one moves. These are the same students that just three hours later expressed vulnerability and pain during a passionate, and more personal, Bible class. What changed?
This is one event in a string of happenings this fall, all of which involve prayer. The revival is evident throughout the community of Eastern Christian with new events and groups that have recently formed. With the encouragement of the community, and a massive prayer event planned for December, hopes are high for the future of our Christian environment.
Consider this timeline: Aug. 30, the first student-initiated prayer meeting of the year; Sept. 25, See You at the Pole allowed for students to express their faith and voice prayers for our school, country, and world; Oct. 23, Pastor Robert Parker spoke in chapel and the bible classes mentioned previously occurred. These are only a handful of events.
The chapel itself helped present a deeper need for God in EC’s community. Even though the need for change was not apparent at first, many students described the after effects of the chapel as being “uplifting, but also disappointing”. It was explained that the chapel was uplifting because of the hope for the future, as well as disappointing due to the initial lack of participation of the student body.
However, some students were given the opportunity to worship a second time that day during a third block Bible class. The teacher of the class, Mrs. Carrie Johnson, allowed her students to use the auditorium that block as they spent it singing praise and praying for one another. A similar scene played out in a second Bible class that day with a different teacher. This was just one occasion that students utilized to recognize the need for prayer in EC’s community.
For students, there are many ways to become involved and opportunities to grow spiritually. Throughout the first three months of school there have already been 5 specific events as well as 5 SOARS dedicated the nurturing faith and fellowship between the students.
The SOARS that are available include Anchored (girl’s Bible study), The Armory (boy’s bible study), Food and Faith, and Project Focus (a group of student leaders who meet weekly to plan events and grow in their faith). The Food and Faith SOAR prays for requests that have been anonymously submitted through the prayer locker, which is a new addition this year. All of these SOARS except 1 are new this fall.
Teacher and leader of the Food and Faith SOAR Mrs. Leah Genuario stated, “I think that sometimes it is nice to know that you are being heard,” when asked about the locker. Many requests have already been submitted and the anonymous format of the locker allows students who have heavy requests to voice them without fear of judgment.
The Armory and Anchored SOARS are designed to be resources for students to have a more personalized and in-depth study of the Bible that is more individualized due to the small-group format. These groups are exclusively student lead which builds onto a welcoming and accepting environment for the members.
Project Focus is a club that started this year and has gained steam as it starts to plan for events as well as encourage spiritual growth in the participants. Project Focus member Luke Parker stated, “Project Focus is a time for students to meet twice a week for SOAR, where they learn how to be student leaders, but it’s also a time to look at your soul and see where God is working in you.”
As for parents, there are new ways for them to get involved as well. Since Sept. 18, the group known as Parents and Prayer have met every other week on Wednesdays to participate in chapel and to pray over the student body. They have hosted a prayer walk in October that brought teachers, parents, and students together. This group of parents is exclusively volunteer driven and continues to welcome any new potential members.
Prayer and spiritual growth within EC is an ongoing goal in the community. The nature of this allows for new events and opportunities including the upcoming prayer summit. The next upcoming event is the prayer summit being held on Dec. 4 that will host students, teachers, and local pastors to pray for local and international communities of faith as well as revival among those who do not know the Lord.
Aside from this, the hope of this summit is to bring together our school and local churches to strengthen the relationship of the community surrounding EC.
Mrs. Genuario commented, “It’s important to remember that the Lord invites us to come boldly into his throne room via prayer, to receive grace and mercy in our time of need. Our God hears and sees us and is working even when we can’t recognize it.”