See You at the Pole tremendous success
By Bob Baysinger
September 23, 2003
|Students at Jefferson City High School gather around the school’s flagpole at 7 a.m. on Sept. 17 asking God "to burst from the heavens and come down." The same scene was evident at many public schools across Missouri as students participated in the 14th annual See You at the Pole.|
JEFFERSON CITY – Thousands of Missouri Baptists students joined with other teenagers at school flagpoles across the state on Sept. 17, asking God to "burst from the heavens and come down."
It appears the Lord responded positively.
Scott Brawner, who oversees youth evangelism statewide for the Missouri Baptist Convention, said some fantastic reports are coming in about God working in students’ lives. Brawner preached at a See You at the Pole (SYATP) pre-rally at First Baptist, Owensville, Sept. 14, with 100 in attendance and 10 receiving Christ.
Brawner said First Baptist Church, Millersville, sponsored an area-wide rally Sept. 16, with nine churches participating and 120 in attendance.
In the Jackson area, more than 400 students gathered at flag poles. At Jackson High School, 20 students prayed, asking Christ to enter their hearts.
Brawner said Bob Houchens, collegiate minister at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, reported that one junior high girl at Jackson was asked by a friend why students were praying at the flag pole. Later in the day, the inquiring student asked the same student what it meant to be a Christian and the inquisitive student was led to Christ in the junior high lunch room.
Mike Hubbard of Ballwin Baptist Church was excited about SYATP happenings in south St. Louis.
"We have a family in our church that has come to know Christ over the past three years. Their daughter, Courtney, was saved at our youth camp last year. She attends Villa Duchense High School, an all-girls Catholic school," Hubbard said.
"Last year, Courtney’s parents struggled on whether to keep Courtney in the school. They really wanted her to be in a place where her influences were more evangelical and could help her grow in the Lord. Courtney decided to lead SYATP at her school this year, not knowing how many would show up."
Hubbard said he attended the first SYATP at the Catholic school, joining 17 girls, three teachers and Courtney’s parents.
"I spoke to Courtney’s mother after the event," Hubbard said. "She is so amazed at how God kept them at Villa and how He is now using Courtney and their family to impact that school in the name of Jesus Christ."
Dan Updegrave, youth pastor at Calvary Baptist, Republic, reported that approximately 250 teens and adults attended a pre-SYATP rally in his city, and about 98 percent of the 40 students attending SYATP at Ashland High School were from Southern Baptist churches.
The theme for SWATP 2003 was taken from 1 Kings 18:36-39 when the prophet Elijah prayed for fire to fall from heaven and consume everything on the altar so that God would make Himself known to the people.
Baptist church youth groups were well represented at gatherings throughout Missouri as students gathered around school flagpoles at rural schools and also at schools in both small and large cities, unashamedly proclaiming the name of Christ in song, testimonies and prayer.
Jason Grubbs, youth pastor at Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston, described the See You At the Pole event at Sikeston High School as "more spiritual" than previous years. "We’re praying for our youth to get on fire for Christ," Grubbs said. "And from what I could see, the kids who were at the pole this year wanted to be there because they want to make a difference."
Grubbs estimated 140 students gathered at Sikeston.
Doug Watson, youth pastor at Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Springfield, stopped at five See You at the Pole events in his city. Ridgecrest is located on the city’s south side.
"The schools are very cooperative here," Watson said. "This is one of the biggest turnouts we’ve had. A lot of our students attend Nixa schools and they were involved in the pole event there. There were more than 100 around the pole at Cherokee Middle School, and that was led by some of our eighth graders."
He estimated the crowd at Springfield Kickapoo High School at between 200 and 300. "School starts late on Wednesday," Watson said, "and students took advantage of the extra time to stay at the flag pole to pray until 8:45 a.m."
Watson believes See You at the Pole is vital for students.
"It allows students to express their faith and shows the school and other leaders that students care about their school and the nation. And I’m glad that students in Springfield are making a very strong statement to their city, this state and the world."
Brandon Jackley, youth pastor at Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, said attendance was up at the See You at the Pole event at Jefferson City High School. Jackley said at least 180 students stopped to pray, with the crowd growing as buses began making morning deliveries to the school.
See You at the Pole started in 1990 when a group of teenagers in Burleston, Texas, assembled for a discipleship retreat. That night they decided to go to three schools and pray around the campus’ flagpoles for their friends and fellow students.
Later that year at a rally of teenagers in Dallas, more than 20,000 attendees were challenged to organize prayer sessions at their schools, following the Burleston example.