By Gary Mitchell
About 440 students rose early to pray together at Clovis, Portales and Texico schools on Wednesday at the 14th annual See You at the Pole national student day of prayer.
The total was about 30 fewer than a year ago, organizers said, and only one student participated from Gattis Junior High.
Despite the slightly lower numbers, participants brought plenty of enthusiasm.
“I felt very fortunate to be around my fellow Christians here at the high school,” said Erika Watson, 15, a sophomore at Clovis High School and member of Sandia Baptist Church. “I know these people, and they’re the real deal.”
Derek Osburn, youth minister at Central Baptist Church in Clovis, said he encouraged students to focus on a specific spiritual goal and make a dramatic statement of their faith.
“Kids who don’t go to church will walk by and see their fellow students praying, and it gives them exposure to the reality of Christ being expressed through their prayers and lives,” he said.
CHS students participating in Wednesday’s event said it was important to make a stand for Christ on the campus.
Senior Matthew Coker, 17, who attends Highland Baptist Church, said he has attended other prayer at the pole events.
“Every year, we get together,” he said. “It really just starts up our hearts — it lights us up — and we let Jesus shine through us. Sometimes, it’s hard to be a witness, but this has a huge impact on the school. Prayer changes lives, and we lift everything up to God.”
Senior Kenny McField, 17, who attends Faith Christian Family Church, said he enjoyed the event “a lot.”
“This event brings all the real Christians to pray,” he said. “I hope there are more true Christians than the ones here. God will never leave you nor forsake you. He’ll always forgive you for all your sins. We had a lot of students out there, and I hope all the students here at Clovis High will know Christ and believe in him.”
John Edward Birkey was the lone student participant at Gattis’ flagpole.
“I got there, and there was a ton of kids there, but they were there for breakfast,” the 12-year-old seventh-grader said.
Oneighty youth assistant Bevin Ryan showed up to join him in prayer.
“I just wanted to go and support Gattis,” she said. “In the pre-rally Tuesday night, there were only two students there from Gattis. I was proud of him. It took a lot of courage to be the only one.”
Approximately 375 students showed up throughout Clovis schools on Wednesday — 78 at Clovis High School, 150 at Clovis Christian School, 80 at Yucca Junior High, 65 at Marshall Junior High and Birkey at Gattis.
Portales High School saw 30 to 35 students gather for prayer this year, and Texico High School had 25 to 30 present at its school flagpole.
This year’s theme for the event is “Consumed,” based on 1 Kings 18:26-39, where the Old Testament prophet Elijah tells a story that shows God’s power. God intervened, resulting in the Israelites’ total surrender to him when they said, “The Lord, He is God.”
Last year’s event drew 2.5 million teenagers for prayer in all 50 states.
See You at the Pole is a student-initiated and student-led movement that started in the Fort Worth, Texas, suburb of Burleson in 1990.