Students rally for global prayer event

High school youth group volunteer Robert Schnell prays with area high schoolers at the See You at the Pole pre-event rally Sunday at CCC.

High school youth group volunteer Robert Schnell prays with area high schoolers at the See You at the Pole pre-event rally Sunday at CCC.

By Mary M. Rall
Community Covenant Church

Students from throughout the Chugiak-Eagle River community came together for rally at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River Sunday prior to gathering around their school flagpoles in prayer Wednesday at area See You at the Pole events.

About 147 middle and high schoolers representing seven Chugiak, Eagle River and Anchorage middle schools, high schools and homeschool programs participated in the rally to build anticipation for SYATP.

According to SYATP.com, the event began in 1990 when a handful of teenagers from Burleson, Texas, gathered to pray at their local school and has since grown to include about 3 million students from more than 20 countries praying annually before school at their local flagpoles for their friends, families, schools and nations.

“I see great value in youth who follow Jesus seeing how big their family is,” said Mike Alverts, CCC’s high school and young adult director. “The pre-event rally is really a hope to strengthen relationships, build connections and to provide some level of motivation for students to participate in the prayer time on their campuses.”

Youth groups from CCC, The Crossing in Chugiak and Alliance Christian Fellowship in Eagle River also participated in the event, allowing students to see how many others attending their schools also have similar beliefs.

“One of my hopes for students is to live a seamless and whole life,” Mike said. “There’re certainly a lot of pressures to act differently to match the people we’re around. Often Christian students will live a fragmented life, having their ‘church life’ and their ‘school life’”

ACF Youth Pastor Josh Talbot said it can be difficult to not only represent your faith at school, but to have the courage to visibly pray in support of others at SYATP.

“I want to encourage you to pray. I want to encourage you to be bold in your faith,” Josh said at the rally, recalling when he attended SYATP when he was in high school. “It’s scary. I’ve done it. I’ve stood there and been terrified, but I walked through it and survived.”

Many of the rally participants expressed their desire to step out in faith at SYATP, to include Eagle River High School freshman Keryl Korzon.

“I believe that there are a lot of people who really need to be prayed for,” Keryl said. “I know friends that have a lot of people at home who could really use Jesus in their lives to help them through the hard times.”

Others felt prayer could have a visible impact on schools.

“I might pray to see God work in the school in such a way that people from the outside looking in can see a difference in Eagle River High School,” said 17-year-old homeschooler James Bodolosky, who planned to pray alongside ERHS students at SYATP.

CCC Middle School Coordinator Criss Mitchell attended one of the first SYATP events at Chugiak High School when he was a high schooler.

“As a new Christian, it let me know that I’m not alone in my faith,” Criss said. “My family is huge — filled with brothers and sisters, the sons and daughters of God.”

SYATP may also present an opportunity for students to see how they can live out their faith beyond the relatively safe confines of a church.

“It’s important for students to learn what it means to be a Christian outside the walls of a church building,” Criss said. “I think it helps to make students aware that God is doing something in this community and hopefully gives them a heart to participate in God’s kingdom building work in their school.”

Students may find significance by publicly declaring their faith as well, Mike added.

“I think one valuable experience for students is to identify with Jesus in front of others,” he said. “This is a pivotal experience for anyone who wants to live a whole life.”

Additional information for SYATP is available at SYATP.com.