Prayer happened in school. I know. I was there. Don’t worry. It was entirely legal.
Up-In-Out is part of what characterizes the ministry of Love First Coast. It’s based developing a rhythm of doing what Jesus did and doing it intentionally. Simply, Up is about giving time and effort to growing our relationship with God through worship, prayer, the scriptures and spiritual disciplines. In is about being in a committed group where we challenge and encourage one another to follow Jesus. Out is about seeking to bless others and meet needs with grace, love, and power. (You can read more about Up-In-and-Out here.)
One of the groups we’re connected with is Young Life. Young Life was started when a woman named Clara Fischer recruited a group of ladies in Gainesville, Texas to start praying for the teenagers at their local high school in the 1930’s. As they were praying, God moved the heart of a Presbyterian pastor named Clyde Kennedy to lead his church to do something for high school students outside the church’s walls. The church hired a young seminarian named Jim Rayburn. Jim’s work and ministry there formed the basis for what would become Young Life. It’s an organization that has brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to millions of people around the world. Currently, there are over 2 million kids in 100 countries who have a Young Life leader who knows them by name. This year alone, over 160,000 of those kids will attend a Young Life Camp. Most of those kids will have the best week of their lives. And they will hear a simple and clear presentation of the gospel of Jesus. They will be surrounded by loving, responsible adults. They’ll be shown and invited into a new way of life.
I was one of those kids. God worked on my heart when I was at a Young Life camp. Prior to that week, I always felt that being a Christian was just a burden. It was one I was willing to shoulder, but it was such a weight. At camp, I discovered that following Jesus could be more fun than anything else I’d ever experienced, that God loved me and was pursuing me, and that he offered the promise of a life filled with purpose and joy. The weight was lifted.
Young Life blessed me. It is all over the world. It’s in many schools across the First Coast. But it’s not in the school my daughter attends.
So, a couple of weeks ago, our discipleship huddle and some of us on the Young Life Board met at my daughter’s school and we prayed. In the spirit of Clara Fisher and her friends, we prayed for the teenagers who attend Creek Side High School. We also prayed for God’s grace to cover the teachers, staff, and administrators. We prayed for the area churches and youth ministries that touch their lives. We prayed for God’s Spirit to move there, for God’s Kingdom to advance, and that every kid and every kind of kid would know this: 1st, that they are loved by God. We also want them to know that they are loved by others, that they are surrounded by people who care. School, we know, can be such a hard place, so we prayed for each kid there to have someone in their life who loves them unconditionally, gracefully, and wisely. We prayed for kindness to break out all over the place in the school. (I see glimpses of that sometimes when I visit. Many young people today are pretty amazing.) We pray they would love themselves, too, because God loves them. They are precious to God and they need to know, to believe it. We are praying that they would grow and learn and discover truth, and grace, and be filled with courage to bless each other and the world. We want each one to know that they have captured God’s heart. (And in case you need reminding, so have you!) And we prayed for God to bring the ministry of Young Life there.
I don’t know what will happen as a result of these prayers. But it felt good to be out together. We debriefed afterwards at a local restaurant. The mood was pretty upbeat. Our faith is bolstered every time we do something like this. And I can tell you that I am grateful for the prayers of Clara Fischer years ago. How cool it is to be a part of this legacy of prayer. We’ll be going out again soon to other area schools. We are asking God to bring ministries here so that every kid and every kind of kid hears the good news of God’s love and grace.
Hey, if you are leading a discipleship huddle or group, I encourage you to go out together to pray for God’s Kingdom to advance in the places in your city God is laying on your heart. Go out. Pray. See what happens in your heart and in the hearts of your people.
(Next worship gathering – August 5 in the St. Johns Room of Faith Community Church (3450 CR210).