• 75°

See you at the pole

Praying at the pole: Students at schools around the world will gather before school on Sept. 22 to pray.

Christian students plan prayer rallies before school

In two weeks, millions of students around the world will gather before school to pray for their friends, teachers, principals, communities and nations.

The See You at the Pole rally is scheduled for Sept. 22. The event celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and flagpoles at Suffolk schools will be open for prayer.

“See You at the Pole provides an opportunity for students to gather at the beginning of the school year,” said Doug Clark, promotions coordinator for See You at the Pole. “They pray with other believers from their campus. By starting off the school year that way, they often find other people who are people of faith on their campus that they might not know about otherwise.”

The event got its start in 1990 when a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas, were on a youth retreat together. Feeling compelled to pray for their friends, they drove to three different schools, gathered around the flagpoles and prayed.

Later that year, a group of youth leaders from around the state named the challenge “See You at the Pole” and shared it with 20,000 students at a retreat in Dallas, Texas in June 1990.

On Sept. 12, 1990, more than 45,000 teenagers met at school flagpoles in four states to pray before the start of school.

By the next year, the movement had spread nationwide. On Sept. 11, 1991, an estimated one million students prayed together before school. In recent years, more than three million students from 20 countries have taken part.

Clark said the movement is an important tool for Christian students to meet each other and reach out to others. See You at the Pole rallies have sparked Bible studies and Christian clubs on campuses throughout the world, he said.

“One of the most important things we can do as Christians for those around us is to pray for them,” Clark said. “First and foremost, it’s a prayer event.”

However, Clark added, it is natural for students who don’t know Christ as their Savior to wonder what is going on.

“It’s inevitable [for] other students to want to know what’s happening, and they get the opportunity to explain the hope they have to their friends,” Clark said. “We’re just excited at the way it continues to provide opportunities for students to be visible in public about their relationship in Christ. It’s not intended to be a show, but it is challenging for students sometimes to show that they are Christians on the campus. That can be a real step of faith for kids.”

Furthermore, Clark said, the event can be an opportunity for adult church leaders and Christian teachers to show their support for the students.

“It’s an opportunity for adults to really support students who are trying to live out their faith at their school,” Clark said. “We encourage churches to have a time of recognition and prayer for students and Christian teachers to represent God well throughout the school year.”

There’s still time for students to organize a See You at the Pole rally at their school. For more information, visit www.syatp.com.