While national statistics show a rising growth of unbelief among young people, millions of teenagers from across America and the world are gathering before school hours on Wednesday to cry out to God together in prayer for the annual "See You at the Pole" event.
The prayer initiative began as a grassroots movement in 1990 with 10 students praying at their school, but it has since grown into an international phenomenon, giving young people the opportunity to express their Christian faith and cry out to God, which is this year's theme.
Sadie Robertson, the reality TV star who's most famous for her appearances on A&E's "Duck Dynasty," said in comments to The Christian Post that the prayer event has "always meant something special to me."
"I think it's so cool that in our country so many teens still gather to pray at the pole each year. It is one of those things that keeps our country wholesome, and reminds us all that it is in God who we trust," said Robertson ahead of the 26th annual SYATP.
Beth Nimmo, the mother of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim shot and killed at Columbine High School in 1999 after being asked if she still believed in God, will be returning to the school to join students in prayer.
Nimmo's daughter is portrayed in the upcoming film "I'm Not Ashamed" that tells Rachel's story and the impact her faith in Jesus Christ continues to have on people. Nimmo described her daughter's life as the "journey of a Christian teen who loved the Lord but struggled every day to live out her faith among her peers."
Nimmo shared her hopes that the SYATP event, along with the film and I Am Hope, a four-week discipleship program empowering youth to share their faith launched by Pure Flix Alliance, will continue Rachel's quest to start a chain reaction of "love and compassion."
Much like this year's event, past SYATP gatherings have encouraged the spiritual awakening of young people in America and around the world, calling on students to meet at school flagpoles to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school, and nation to God.
"Our nation, with all the division that we have right now, really needs a moral and spiritual awakening. Part of See You at the Pole is a call to the Body of Christ, including parents to be involved in an extraordinary commitment to pray," SYATP organizer Doug Clark told CP back in 2012.
Clark said that it is also an opportunity for young people to enter into a whole year of ministry.
"It's a launching pad for them to begin by praying together, which is the most important first thing to do. But then to consider what God might be saying to them about how they would reach their friends," he said.
The SYATP website stresses that it is a student-led event, and says that strong student leadership is crucial for the success of the gatherings. It tells young people that while parents or youth pastors can support them through prayer and encouragement, it is students who need to take charge.
The website notes that while students are free to gather for prayer before school, they also need to inform their school administration about the planned event.
"God is continuing to call His people to repentance and prayer. Countless inspiring testimonies of how He has used See You at the Pole to bring students to Christ and to change lives affirm God's power to answer those who cry out to Him in humble dependence," the organizers say.
"Bible clubs, weekly prayer meetings, and other ministries have begun on campuses where students participated in See You at the Pole."