By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
BURLESON, Texas – Rick Eubanks could sense God moving mightily in the fall of 1989 among the teenagers at a Texas church where he served as minister of music and youth.
He never imagined that God would use the youth group to start one the largest student-led prayer gatherings around school flagpoles in the country – See You At The Pole.
“We caught a vision that year,” said Eubanks, who is now minister of worship and students at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Burleson. “Our youth group was one of those special groups with an anointing from God and they believed in praying for their friends and others. It’s amazing how things took off.”
While the genesis of See You At The Pole actually can be traced to a year-long emphasis on prayer among the youth at Crestmont Baptist Church, the key moment that kick-started the movement was the church’s Disciple Now in April 1990. A guest speaker during one of the sessions challenged the youth to surrender everything to Jesus.
Later that evening, about 10 of the students traveled to three public school and one homeschool campus with one goal in mind – prayer. The students even accepted a challenge to hold hands in public on the school grounds.
One of those students was Terry McConnell, now a firefighter and member of First Baptist Church Burleson.
“At the time I had no idea See You At The Pole would come from that idea,” McConnell said. “We had concerns for our classmates and wanted simply to pray at our schools before the school year started.”
A seed was planted in Eubanks’ mind. Three days after the Disciple Now was over, Eubanks was discussing with other youth leaders around Texas how they could continue the momentum gained during their statewide youth camps into the school year.
Eubanks suggested taking what happened at the Burleson schools and expanding that statewide. One of the youth leaders suggested the prayers happen around a flag pole and another leader in the meeting then said “See You At The Pole.”
The leaders in the meeting were hopeful for 3,000 for a date in September. An announcement was made to a gathering of 20,000 Texas Baptist youth at Reunion Arena in June and soon other states took notice, inquiring how they could participate as well.
By the time the first See You At The Pole date arrived, reports were of at least 45,000 students praying among the 1,200 campuses throughout the US.
Today, millions of students in public and private schools and colleges gather each year throughout the world to pray on the fourth Wednesday of every September around their respective flagpoles. Gatherings run anywhere from just two to several hundred.
Eubanks has been amazed at the results since the first See You At The Pole.
“It was organic and God-orchestrated,” Eubanks said. “And we were able to play our part.
“The cool thing it has turned into pre-pole and after-pole rallies which has turned into salvations. We thought it would be just a year or two and then go away. But it’s been fun that it’s continuing to morph and change.”
McConnell said he is amazed at how long the event has continued.
“Next year is the 25th anniversary of it and that blows me away,” he said. “It’s a God-thing all the way through. There were lots of parts that came together for it to happen. It wasn’t just one person’s idea. I don’t think anybody involved with it would think 24 years later it would still be going on.
“It was clear that God took it and did what He wanted to do with it,” he continued. “It’s been cool to see what has happened.”
This year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 24 at 7 am. More information on See You At The Pole, including ways to prepare, plan and publicize the event, can be found at syatp.com.