See you... every week... at the pole
Since 1990, See You at the Pole has been an annual student-led event where students gather around the school's flag pole to pray for their schools. However, either someone forgot to tell 15-year-old Victoria Kirk that "annual" means once a year or she's onto something new here.
Victoria, who attends Southwest First Assembly of God in Lakewood, Colorado, is completing her freshman year at Ralston Valley High School. But last fall, she wanted to promote the See You at the Pole event at her school. When Victoria mentioned her desire to one of the school administrators to promote the event, he was agreeable - and mentioned that the school used to even have a club for the event, and if they (Victoria and her friend Tiffany Jones) wanted to start the club up again, he would be their sponsor.
The girls agreed and the club not only met for See You at the Pole, but began meeting regularly.
"We started meeting the third Thursday of every month," Victoria says, "then we went to every other Thursday, but then we decided we wanted even more, so we decided to meet every week starting in February."
At first, the group was made up of eight of Victoria's friends, including her brother Brody, a junior, and a security guard from the school. "I started calling the seven people in the club our foundation-builders," Victoria explains, "because without them, we wouldn't have had a foundation to build this club on."
Victoria's parents, Dennis and Barbara Kirk, say that at first they were concerned about their "new-to-high-school" daughter being consistent in holding club meetings, but were pleased with her initiative.
"My wife and I are very big on evangelism," Dennis says, "and I believe it rubbed off on both our children. In fact, Victoria was responsible for leading a lot of the core group to the Lord, through inviting friends to Wednesday night Girls clubs and Brody inviting friends to [Royal] Rangers."
After meeting for several months, the group had only grown to 10. Victoria admits at times it was discouraging not to see growth, but she adds that the school sponsor, her youth pastor (Jacob Fogg) and her Girls Only leader (Barbara Bretzke) were sources of timely encouragement and guidance.
|Students now gather at Ralston Valley High School every Thursday for Prayer at the Pole.|
Finally in February, things started to happen. The security guard, Jeff Barr, brought along a student, Ryan, who quickly became a regular. Ryan began inviting his friends, and the group began to grow a little.
"Then there was an all-area worship event at Warehouse 180 (Ryan's youth group)," Victoria recalls, "and he got up on stage and made an announcement about Prayer at the Pole, and the next day, 50 people showed up to Prayer at the Pole. There were even a few kids that brought along their instruments and they just started playing along with us. It was awesome!"
However, success also met with challenge, as that same day the group encountered its first real opposition. A student who referred to himself as "Lucifer" was at the fringe of the gathering, yelling at the other students and condemning them.
When the meeting ended, Victoria, Tiffany and a third core club member, Maddie Ceurvorst, approached the young man. After introducing herself, Victoria says the young man cursed, proclaiming, "The Christians have come to recruit me."
Victoria responded, explaining they weren't coming to recruit him, but just to tell him, "Jesus loves you." The young man cursed again. "You Christians and your niceness - why can't you ever just be jerks back to me?" he demanded.
"I told him, 'Jesus wouldn't treat you that way, so why would I?'" Victoria says. "And then Tiffany told him we would be praying for him and then we left. We never had another encounter with him, but we got to plant seeds."
|The Kirk family (l to r): Dennis, Brody, Victoria and Barbara.|
"I feel Victoria and her friends get charged up every Wednesday night with a zeal to share the gospel," Dennis says, "and this gives them the boldness to lead Prayer at the Pole. Over the years, I've watched Girls Ministries clubs and Royal Rangers help change young girls and boys into mature, stable adults who are responsible and possess the tremendous values taught to them through these programs."
Victoria says that since that day when 50 students came, the group has been averaging about 20 students a week, with many students commenting how they enjoy being a part of the club. "Not everyone can make it each week, as some need to use that time to get help from teachers or to study," Victoria says.
Dennis believes the club has gained favor with students because they are seeking something real and finding it. "Young people want to see someone who isn't afraid to stand, believing God's Word for what it is - absolute truth. Barbara and I hear many testimonies from Brody and Victoria concerning the Thursday morning meetings. God is always moving there."
However, when asked if she plans to continue the club next year, Victoria's response is surprising.
"I don't plan on continuing the club next year," she says, "I plan on continuing the club all year and every year until I graduate! I told the kids at Prayer at the Pole that just because the school year is over, it doesn't mean that the Prayer at the Pole club is over. We're planning on meeting during the summer too!"