Community offers prayer support for SA students, staff
Sixty-seven years separate the graduation of Richard Beitler from Berne High School and this year's graduating class next spring. Yet, the same God who blessed students in his time is still able to be with the class that graduates in 2012 and beyond, Beitler said.
"It was 1935 when I graduated from the old Berne High School," said Beitler. "God has been so good over these years. I think it's great the way the community is coming together to pray for our students."
Beitler was one of over 100 adults and students that gathered at the South Adams football field for a prayer rally on Wednesday night. John Wanner, executive director of Youth for Christ in this region, said that the purpose of the gathering was to engage lots of Christians to join in widespread prayer.
"This event captures our heart, begging God to touch our community with His presence," Wanner said. "This is not just a one-time event but rather a kickoff to ask our community to stand in the power of prayer to change lives within our neighborhoods."
Wanner's purpose was realized early when neighbors and friends, students and adults, broke into pairs of two on a rotating basis, sharing each other's name and school background, and then united in prayer for personal concerns at the time.
South Adams High School principal Trent Lehman welcomed those attending and reminded them that the scripture reminds us that where two or three have come together in Jesus' name, He is in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20).
"The Bible tells us that God answers the prayer of a righteous person, that He is opposed to pride, but He gives grace to the humble," said Lehman. "Let's humble ourselves tonight and seek God on behalf of our students and staff."
Lehman alluded to Jesus' teaching in Matthew five from the Sermon on the Mount that if we have any grudges, we need to leave the altar and go make things right with that person, and then return to pray.
"We need to humble ourselves, strip ourselves of pride and confess our sins," Lehman said. "Some of us may need to ask forgiveness, make things right with another, and then go to prayer. We can't do anything on our own. Only through Christ's blood can we come to the throne.
"If our prayers are going to be effective, we have to be right with the Lord," Lehman said. "When Jesus prayed in Matthew 17, He prayed for the believers of that time and then He prayed for all believers of all-time. That's us; He was praying for our unity. Before we can do anything, we have to do business with God on our own."
Lehman described his heartfelt concern for "lots of kids" who are hurting. He said that many students are coming to his office or talking to teachers and administrators, asking for help in their lives.
"We have a lot of hurting homes; a lot of times I don't know what to do when kids come in," noted Lehman. "We need prayer for wisdom and discernment. We need to know what to do help these kids grow."
Several students appealed to those present with ways that prayer was needed for their particular classes.
Sixth grader Kaitlin Kelsey referred to her position as "the bottom of the food chain."
"We are new to all of the classes, pray for us," said Kelsey.
"We have a lot of students with broken hearts who don't know the Lord," commented seventh grader Ellie Amstutz. "Pray for all of the pressures that we have."
Chance Sprunger, eighth grader, expressed concern about being a proper example and a role model while freshman Derek Wanner noted that the freshmen year is a time where "things can get all mixed up."
"As sophomores we want to be a proper role model to underclassmen. Our classes are starting to change a lot. We want to be a proper role model at home and at school," said Hannah Taing.
Junior Simon Sprunger described the 11th grade as a time of a lot more responsibility.
"There are kids who don't believe God, who don't believe that there is any after life," said Sprunger. "There's a lot more to think about in sports and in college."
"In our senior year, responsibility comes to a head," said Kristen Lehman. "This is a time when we make decisions concerning the rest of our lives. We need to pray for each other; we pray for all of you."
Individuals were given the opportunity to pray for each student. Tables were spread with slips of paper containing the names of students in each class. Those present volunteered to receive names of students and pray for them by name, not only at the rally, but throughout the year.
The evening concluded with Lehman opening the school and allowing those attending to have the opportunity to go into the building and give special prayers at places of their leading, lockers, classrooms, the high school gym and offices.
Beitler came prepared with a prayer written to share his 94 years of concern on behalf of the local community and school.
"For our schools, South Adams, I pray for you, that you will have a good school year. Above all, love the Lord, and put Jesus Christ first," said Beitler in his prayer.
Beitler had written the words of the chorus, "I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back."
"Have a great year; God bless each one of you, from an old man (almost 94), Richard Beitler, who God has blessed and his dear family, praise the Lord," added Beitler.
"Lord, we need spiritual leaders willing to step up in the hallway and do what's right," said Lehman as he led the group in prayer. "Help us to stand with people who need help and who need to follow God's way. Help this year to be the best it can be for our South Adams Schools. Bless our students and teachers, as one body involved in your glory."
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