By Amy Frierson, Director of Marketing and Communications
Prince Avenue Christian School | Bogart, Georgia
Students at a small Christian school in northeast Georgia have recently experienced a spiritual revival among their high school student body as never before seen in the history of the school.
Established in 1978 as a ministry of Prince Avenue Baptist Church and located in Bogart, Georgia, Prince Avenue Christian School serves students in the Athens, Georgia area. PACS offers a college preparatory program for preschool through 12th grades, and the school’s mission statement is to partner with Christian families to provide scripturally based discipleship while pursuing excellence in academics, fine arts and athletics from a biblical worldview.
The recent revival started with a three-day, two-night high school spiritual retreat held away from campus at a beautiful retreat center in north Georgia. The goal was to remove distractions and allow students and faculty the space to take a break from the rigors of academics and co-curricular activities and focus on their relationships with one another and with the Lord.
The planning was careful but simplistic. There were no well-known musicians or big-name speakers. Corporate worship was led by the Prince High School Praise Team and teaching was led by PABC Student Pastor Jace Thomas. High school faculty led small group discussions where students met with classmates to share their thoughts and ideas regarding the teaching and their own personal experiences, and students enjoyed recreation time that included corn hole, basketball, lake activities, Ping Pong and time to relax together.
Tears shed, walls came down
The routine was working. The almost 300 students were attentive and responsive, enjoying a great time together, but on the second night, something different began to occur. At invitation, students from all grade levels, all areas of the school and all social groups openly responded. Tears were shed, and walls came down. As many as 60 students openly expressed a desire to accept Christ, be baptized, pursue full-time ministry and influence their friends and family for Christ.
Thomas explains that while this was special, it was what happened next that made the response unique. “I have been a part of big events where many students have come to Christ, but this was different. Once that invitation time ended, the response did not. Students continued the conversation. They were helping one another deal with their questions and seek God. They were bringing their friends to adults to receive help. They were truly opening up and asking for guidance.”
‘When God speaks, He demands a response’
When the students returned, the movement continued into the baptistries of the local churches.
Unbeknownst to school leaders, PABC senior pastor Josh Smith had felt led by the Lord the week prior to open Sunday’s invitation for an immediate response to baptism.
“I was preaching on the text from Hebrews 10:26-31 in which God basically says that to ignore Him is to reject Him. I wrote in my journal, ‘How can I preach this text faithfully if I do not call people to respond immediately?’”
Smith explained, “When God speaks, He demands a response. There are people sitting in the church who want to get saved and don’t know how. We need to clearly articulate exactly what to do. The response to being ready to give your life to Christ is baptism.”
90 people baptized
These two events – the school’s spiritual life retreat paired with the church’s preparation for immediate response – culminated in a great number of baptisms from all areas of the church. Senior and young adults, college students and youth all responded. Couples, siblings, parents and children were baptized together. The church body stood on their feet in worship as more than 90 people over the course of three weeks were baptized, each one met with rousing applause. Additional baptisms were carried out in many other local churches.
At PACS, there continues to be a visible difference in the hallways and classrooms of the school.
“I am literally meeting with students during study halls and between classes as they seek to understand what is going on in their hearts in response to God’s work,” Thomas explained. “It’s crazy.”
Weekly chapels are also noticeably different with students letting go of their inhibitions during worship and genuinely responding to messages. Bible studies and prayers groups before school and during lunch are taking place. Class discussions are dealing with practical application of spiritual truths. Students are still seeking and still responding.
A vision fulfilled
The off-campus, overnight high school spiritual life retreat was a new endeavor for PACS. Until now, there have been grade-level retreats and on-campus retreats. Prince High School principal Daniel Head explains that this new format was a goal set five years ago. “To see the vision for this retreat culminate the way it did was awesome to watch.”
Kaylor Jones, Prince junior and member of the Prince Praise Team, said she is beyond blessed to have the ability to attend a school where the most important priority is to aid in spiritual growth. “There is nothing that our God can’t do! He has sent a revival to our school and is working to change the lives of our student body.”