You can find just about anything in Bloomington, Indiana: small-town, midwestern folks with southern accents; the biggest college—Indiana University—in the state; crazy streets with names like Bat Road, That Road and Lois Lane. Oh, and you'll also find teens who are serious about their Christian faith.
Campus Life hung out with Bloomington South High School's Panthers for Christ, a student-led Christian club that's been active on campus for a decade. Panther teens are involved in jazz band and Science Olympiad, swim team and songwriting. But they all come together on Wednesday mornings before school to share a common faith in Jesus and a desire to live that faith day in and day out.
Since Panthers for Christ is independent of any larger organization, with only a faculty advisor, students are responsible to keep the club going from year to year. But according to current Panther leader Luke Raad, 17, survival is about more than attendance. It's about prayer.
"The very life of this year's Panthers for Christ was conceived in prayer," says Luke, a junior. "When I was a freshman, I never really saw much fire within the group. But in one year, that all seemed to change."
Months before Luke became the club's leader, he and friends prayed consistently for the group and its members. For more passion. More devotion. The result? "God has really answered our prayers," Luke says.
Katie: My father left a little over a year ago. It was pretty rough, and just out of nowhere. My mom didn't expect it—they'd been married over 25 years. The only way I'm getting through it all is God. He's given me words to say to my father, and helped our family make it financially. My boyfriend's been a big support, and so has Luke.
Stephanie: I used to be an extreme worrier. I'd stress about the tiniest little things. Like, if my mom wasn't home from shopping after a few hours, I'd imagine all these terrible things that could have happened to her. Finally, I just told God, "I'm sick of worrying all the time, and it's dumb because you're in control." Ever since then, I've been fine.
Jonathan: I like Bloomington. It's a college town, so there's a lot of entertainment, like movie theatres and a big mall, and lots of places to hang out on Indiana University's campus. But it still has that small-town feel.
Charlotte: I just got a new car, a Ford Taurus. Before that I had a huge '75 Oldsmobile Cutlass nicknamed "The Green Bean."
Titus: Since I grew up as a missionary kid in the Philip pines, I don't feel very strong bonds with friends. When I was there, I always knew there would come a time when we'd all go our separate ways and never meet up again. Then last fall, my family moved here. I probably won't go back to the Philippines again, except to visit.
Laura: I love horses, and I like going to the rodeo. I live on a farm and have a bunch of horses. Hopefully I'll earn a scholarship on a college rodeo team.
Allison: I think Panthers for Christ is really important. It keeps our focus on what we're at school for, and points everything back toward God.