After observing the See You at the Pole Morning Prayer event at their local schools on Wednesday, students from the East San Diego County area reconvened at a local church for a post-rally, during which they were challenged to reach out to their friends at school.
Some 850 high school and 350 junior high school students, representing 12 schools and 20 churches in San Diego County, participated in the "See You at the Cross" post-rally at Sonrise Community Church in Santee, Calif.
The event was a collaboration between churches belonging to the East County Youth Workers Alliance (ECYWA) a network of churches in East San Diego County formed through the help of San Diego-based National Network of Youth Ministries, which coordinates the promotion of See You at the Pole.
Noah Balcombe, youth pastor of Sonrise, said See You at the Cross was intended to be more than just another rally but was a time "for kids to focus on God and cry to God."
He told the Christian Post that through the event he hoped the students would be encouraged to reach out to their friends for Christ and bring them to church, after seeing the power of unity between Christian teenagers at the gather.
According to Balcombe, who has helped organize the event for the past 3 years, this year's gathering was special.
"The kids were really responsive. Out of all my years of experience, the kids this year were really excited about God," he said, adding that it felt like the beginning of a revival.
During the gathering, participants watched a video on See You at the Pole rallies held at different schools earlier that day and then filled the altar to intense worship music performed by a local band called Cedar.
Afterwards, they were each handed strings, each representing a sin they needed to confess and were given a chance to walk up to the altar and tie their strings on one of two wooden crosses as a way of asking and accepting forgiveness from God for their sins.
Students also had time to share their gratitude. They could either shout out loud what they were thankful for or write it on the available butcher paper.
John Hoffman, a local youth pastor and coordinator of the ECYWA, then delivered a message on the mighty men who were with David in the cave of Adullum.
Hoffman told the students that there may be times in their lives when they feel like rejects like the men with David. But he comforted them, saying that they too can become mighty men when they take the courage to talk to their friends about Jesus Christ.
Mike Gilson, director of San Diego Youth for Christ, which has Bible study clubs on high school and middle school campuses, told the Christian Post that he felt kids today are willing to stand for up for Jesus in ways his generation was not able to.
"The kids really get a sense that there is a calling from God to not only stand up for God at the flagpole but to reach out to their friends at their schools," said Gilson.
The youth director said the large gathering Wednesday night will help give Christian teenagers more courage to reach out to their fellow students.
"It gives them the perspective that I'm not alone," he explained. I'm part of a huge army of Christians that is all over this county."
Gilson said he was also happy to see youth pastors being really passionate and providing a model for Christian teens to work together. The youth pastors were giving each other high-fives and hugging each other during the event and shared their reflections of the event by leaving voice messages on each other's cell phones, Gilson reported.
In reflecting on the atmosphere of the event, Balcombe said, "If we unite together, what couldn't we accomplish?"