It was a cloudy, brisk morning just over a month ago. I set my alarm clock for earlier than normal and met some of our high school students at Crescent Valley. It was just after seven in the morning when I pulled into the parking lot, we were meeting to pray around the flag pole before school.
Students across the country met for what is called, See You at the Pole. Middle school and high school students gathered before school on a Wednesday to pray for their campuses. They prayed that Jesus’ name would be proclaimed to the lost.
As we circled the flag pole, holding hands with students from other local churches, I was reminded of my high school experience. I used to attend See You at the Pole fifteen years ago. But on this particular morning, things happened a bit differently.
Across the circle from me was a little freshman boy. I would have mistaken him for a sixth grader if we weren’t standing in front of the high school. I would later find out that his name was Jessie. He was one of the first students to arrive. Things were getting busier as parents dropped off their kids for school. We were standing right in front of the main entrance to the school.
Just before we were to start praying, a girl, who I have never seen before walked behind me. Her mom had just dropped her off and she was making her way into the school. She called out to that boy on the other side of the circle, “Hey Jessie! You need to get some new friends!”
Her words cut through the cold morning air. If it was meant as a joke, than it fell flat because no one laughed. The person to my left squeezed my hand hard. Another girl’s mouth dropped open.
In the brief moment that followed I tried to consider how I should respond as the only adult standing in the circle. I was angry. I wanted to say something to the girl who seemed unnecessarily angry at the boy who was just meeting with his friends to pray. I was sad. I wanted to encourage the boy across the circle. He must feel attacked.
Before I could speak, the boy spoke. His words were soft, but confident.
“I don’t need new friends. I have my people.” And then, before I could even process what was happening the boy looked at us in the circle and said, “Let’s pray.”
He prayed first. It was hard for me not to cry. I wish you could have been in that circle. I have prayed many times standing in a circle. But this time was different. The 14 year old student prayed for boldness, he prayed that every student at his high school would come to know Jesus. He prayed for opportunities to share Jesus with them. He prayed for a heart to love and eyes to see the broken.
The bell eventually rang and students scattered off to their classes. I got in my car and drove to church. My head was racing with thoughts. I thought was Romans 1:16, “I’m not ashamed of the Gospel…”. I wondered why my first thought was to say something back to the girl when his first thought was to pray.
Would our college campuses look differently if we learned from this freshman in high school?