by Todd Starnes
What started as a special presentation by the Pearl River Central High School's Fellowship of Christian Athletes turned into a full-fledged revival that has transformed the school in Carriere, Mississippi, and left school administrators astounded.
Nearly 90 percent of the school's 670 students attended the program, which was originally scheduled for one hour. But when the bell rang, there were more than 100 students standing in line to pray and make spiritual decisions.
"It was heart-stopping," said Pearl River principal Lolita Lee. "When I realized how many students needed to pray, I went ahead and let the program continue." And continue it did for more than four hours. Through three class periods and lunch, students wept, prayed, sang, and made amends with one another.
Following a hastily-arranged telephone call to the school superintendent, Lee went back to the gymnasium where the revival was taking place. "Who was I to say to these students, Hey you aren't important. Go back to class.'"
And a month later, Lee said the results of the revival are manifested in the school. "I've had teachers and staff tell me how much better the students are," she said. "Our hallways are filled with students who say how their lives have been changed."
The spiritual awakening all started a month earlier when a group of FCA leaders met with their faculty sponsor to discuss plans for the remainder of the school year. "Everyone was writing down goals and plans when suddenly a teacher suggested we reach our school for Christ," said Cary-Anne Dell, a member of the FCA's leadership team. "That's pretty much how it all got started and the Lord took it from there."
The plan involved an in-school rally during which FCA members would perform skits and share testimonies about what it means to be a Christian. A team of 16 students wrote skits and prepared the rally-all except for the closing. "We just decided that the Lord was going to figure out the closing," Dell said.
Dell said the FCA members shared their plans with churches throughout the area. "We had people praying for us all over south Mississippi," Dell said. "It was incredible to see how all those prayers were answered."
One prayer involved a sound system. The acoustics in the school's gymnasium were terrible, Dell said. "We didn't have a sound system so we started praying. The next day, two churches called the school and offered to provide one."
Since the entire event was student-led and student-organized, Lee said the club didn't have to seek permission from the school board.
At first, she was said she was skeptical of the meeting. "You know how it is with kids wanting to get out of class," she said. Midway through the skits, however, the principal felt it was obvious the Spirit of the Lord was moving. "I even had tears in my eyes," said the veteran educator.
"You should have seen God working," Dell said. "It was so awesome. I had the chance to lead someone to the Lord right there in the gym."
At one point, Lee said she counted 120 students lined up to share testimonies and be counseled. "And keep in mind," Lee added, "this was entirely student-led. Our staff only observed."
For Dell, who will spend a good portion of her summer as a missiona ry to Haiti with Teen Mania Ministries, the experience was unforgettable. "It is so wonderful to be chosen by God to do His work," she said.
As for Lee, she said she hasn't suffered any repercussions by allowing the revival to span the course of a school day. "So far, so good," she said. And even if there are, Lee said looking back, she would do the same thing again.