As I am sure most of you have read this past week that Wednesday was the global See You at the Pole student-led day of prayer.
Students, family, faculty and anyone else who wants to participate, gather at the flagpole of the local school to pray prior to the start of the school day.
I attended the event at both Panther Valley High School and Middle School to pray and to photograph for the Times News.
I have to say that I was very impressed with the youth from Church on the Rock for stepping out to arrange the event at their schools and then to stand out there, holding hands and pray in front of their peers as the buses rolled in. This was the second year that they arranged for it at the high school and the first year at the middle school.
To give you an idea of what happened at See You at the Pole:
The kids (and adults) present gathered around the flagpole, held hands and prayed for safety and protection for all of the students and faculty, which, in light of past events, I think all parents want for their kids. They prayed for strength for the kids to stand against temptation, and bullying and for a desire to learn. They prayed for the teachers and asked for blessings on them as they go about the business of educating our children, which can often be a very stressful and frustrating job. Of course, there were other prayer intentions that were spoken as well, which were then followed by the singing of the first verse of Amazing Grace.
As happy as I was for those who came out, I must admit that I was a little disappointed that there were not more people there at the high school.
I think it would have been an even more beautiful and meaningful experience had some of the local priests and pastors come out to join them, and better still, to have encouraged the youth and parents of their congregations to attend as well.
This wasn't a Catholic or a Protestant thing, this was a come together thing because after all, they are all our children and the future parents, businessmen and leaders of our communities and we all know the challenges our youth face every day.
For many, school is a dark place and it can be really difficult just to show up.
When it came time to go to the middle school, I was feeling a little dejected but wanted to be sure I supported the young lady who organized the event as she was a little nervous.
There was a little more participation at the middle school than the high school and I was happy to see the number of kids who came out.
I noticed one little boy watching us as we waited by the flagpole prior to starting.
He kept inching his way closer and closer and so I asked him if he would be joining us.
"I don't know. What are you doing?" he asked.
I explained that we were there to pray for all of the kids and teachers in the school.
I truthfully expected him to walk away but was delightfully surprised when he said, "Ok, I will do my best to help you out."
I think he was smiling just as much as I was.
When it came time to begin, he wasn't the least bit reluctant to hold hands with me and it was endearing.
We went around in the circle, each one of us speaking our prayer requests. When it was his turn, I fully expected him to not utter a word and was prepared to continue on myself.
Again, I was delightfully surprised when this little boy began to pray out loud.
It was simple and brief, but genuine and from the heart.
My eyes welled up and my heart was filled with joy and any disappointment that I previously felt was completely shattered by the unexpected blessing I received from this child.
I was almost too choked up to speak when it became my turn.
When we had finished, I opened my eyes to look at the little boy standing next to me and he was just beaming.
I thanked him for coming out, told him how awesome he was for praying with us and asked him to bring a friend next year.
"I'll do what I can," he said with a smile; and I believe him.
I would like to encourage the Panther Valley area priests and pastors to consider joining us next year and to encourage your congregation to participate as well. You know the power of prayer and that "Wherever two or more gather in my name, there I am with them." (Matthew 18:20, NIV).
Our schools and communities are hurting and struggling and we need to stand together and support each other.
So mark your calendars for Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014 and come on out and be blessed at the pole.