Julie Moore felt like she was the only Christian in her whole school.
She was often mocked for her faith. Still, she felt like she could make a difference on her high school campus.
But how? Her answer came during her junior year at a Youth For Christ retreat, when a student speaker told how God had led her to start a Bible study at her public school.
Julie felt God calling her to do the same at her school, Bloomington (IN) High School North. But she was reluctant.
"At first," says Julie, "I thought, OK, God, whatever. I don't think I'm going to do that."
Julie didn't want any more ridicule at school. And she didn't think anybody would even be interested in a Bible study.
After all, there was that English paper she'd written about obedience, telling of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18).
Julie read the paper aloud in class, explaining that "God wants us to serve him by obeying him, and even though it's hard sometimes, God is faithful and takes care of us."
Most of the class had put their heads down on their desks, ignoring her.
And God wanted her to start a Bible study there?
"People were already mocking me because I was a Christian," says Julie, now a senior at Indiana University. "Starting a Bible study would just give them more opportunity to mock me. I wasn't sure I was ready for that."
A club is born
Still, Julie knew she needed to obey.
"I realized the Bible study was what God wanted me to do, like the Abraham and Isaac thing," she says. "I felt like I was laying down my social status and letting God do whatever he wanted."
Julie talked to her youth leaders and other adults, who encouraged her to go for it. She received information about starting a Christian club at school, including her legal rights.
School administrators were supportive. Several teachers offered to let the club meet in their classrooms before school.
And so "Cougars for Christ," named after her school's mascot, was born.
Julie spread the word that she was starting a club where students could study the Bible and learn more about God. Seventeen students showed up for the first meeting on December 1, 1995.
"I was filled with excitement and gratitude," says Julie. "God had totally put this thing together."
Julie challenged the students with 1 Timothy 4:12: "Don't let any one look down on you because you are young, but set an example … "
She encouraged them to make a difference, to not be afraid and to stand up for what they believed in. Everything went well—for a while.
The next fall, the beginning of Julie's senior year, a photo of Cougars for Christ appeared in the yearbook. Club announcements were made over the P.A. system. The group was getting recognition—but not all of it was good.
Some students were hostile, mocking and cursing at Julie, nicknaming her "the Cougars for Christ Queen."
Soon, blank sheets of red paper were taped up all over school. One guy told Julie with a snicker, "They're for Cougars for Communism."
A teacher told Julie that the communism club, which rarely met, had formed mainly to mock Cougars for Christ. Club members called Julie names, and complained that she was turning the school into a church.