I Am With Them

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Celebrating the 21st Year of the See You At the Pole Student Prayer Movement
 
“For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” — Matthew 18:20

The See You at the Pole Student Prayer Movement was started 21 years ago, in April 1990, by a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas. After attending a weekend Youth Discipleship activity, they felt a strong burden in their hearts to do something concrete for Christ. As soon as the activity ended, they drove to three different schools, gathered in the flagpole areas and cried desperately to the Lord in prayer for their friends, their schools, their leaders and their nation. What they did spread across the state especially among youth groups that were already holding prayer meetings in their respective schools. A vision was immediately birthed as some youth leaders gathered in Dallas, Texas in June 1990 to call more students across the state to express their faith in God by coming together in prayer. They called it the See You at the Pole Challenge.

Finally on September 12, 1990, a total of 45,000 students in 4 different states gathered at the flagpole area of their schools at 7AM to pray. A few months later, a group of youth ministers from all over the country gathered together for a national conference in Colorado. Many of them reported that their students had heard about the prayer movement in Texas and were equally burdened for their schools.

The following year, September 11, 1991, one million students from Boston, Massachusetts all the way to Los Angeles, California gathered in the flagpole areas of their schools at 7AM to celebrate See You at the Pole. They sang worship songs, read Scriptures and prayed fervently for god to move in the hearts of people and of the nation. It became the start of a National Day of Student Prayer. What began as a small prayer group became a global prayer movement for students. There are about 3 million students actively involved in this activity today coming from 50 states in the US and has spread to countries like Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Scotland, and South Africa and even here in Silliman.

In his testimony, Prof. Rogen Ferdinand E. Alcantara, faculty of the SU Department of Psychology and former Youth Coordinator of Silliman University Church, the See You at the Pole Movement reached Silliman in 1994 through the initiative of the SU-Campus Crusade for Christ which he was then part of. When he became SU Church Youth Coordinator in 2008, it was again revived as part of the Youth program of SU Church. To date, students continue to gather monthly (now every first Monday of the month) in the SU East Quadrangle flagpole area to pray for various concerns of the university, the community and beyond. The various SU Christian organizations take turns in leading.

Historically, student movements have always been a crucial force for social transformation. Students have helped topple oppressive governments and end wars. They have stirred many nations towards achieving their causes for justice and freedom. Oftentimes, they become the conscience block of nations in times of turmoil. Their idealism, passion and youth often become catalysts for change. Unfortunately though, because of certain global social trends, many students no longer find value in taking up the cause of transforming things around them. The influences of materialism, greed, social media and commercialism have caused many students to become self-absorbed, shallow and indifferent not only towards society but even towards God.

The challenge is how to stir the hearts of students to pursue not only what is successful, but what is significant and eternal – – – to find their ultimate purpose in Jesus Christ and to become vessels of transformation in society and beyond. The See You at the Pole experience reminds us all of the dreams and aspirations of people today, young or old – – – students or not – – – to see the hand of God move in ways we have never seen before. The See You at the Pole experience is a beautiful symbol of our desperation, our brokenness and our hunger to see more of God’s presence and come to a much needed- realization that if do not learn how to truly humble ourselves before God in prayer, all our efforts for transformation will come to nothing.

On it’s 21st anniversary, the See You at the Pole global celebration centers on the theme “Converge” which is based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” The theme reminds us all never to underestimate the power of prayer. Whenever we come to pray, we welcome the Lord’s mighty presence in our midst. We welcome his wisdom, his grace, his healing, his peace and every kind of blessing he is willing to extend. When we join our hearts in prayer, we unlock the power of God and we bring ourselves closer to truly understanding his will and purposes. But more importantly, the See You at the Pole experience reminds us that prayer is not merely an exercise of words or outward actions – – – prayer is about our hearts bending to its lowest before the very presence of the Lord. It is coming to a point of genuine realization that even our most noble actions and most sincere efforts can only do so much – – – when all is said and done, we need to give enough room for the Lord to move as he wills and as he pleases. Let us continue to hold on to the promise of Jesus that whenever we come together in his Name – – – he is in our midst – – – and when Jesus is in our midst, we can expect great things to happen – – – so much more than we can ever ask or imagine!

See You at the Pole — Silliman University, 2008 (Photos by R. Alcantara)

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