Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) club members, Pearl River Central High School, Carriere, Mississippi
We drive through bayous and swamps, across marshes and the Mississippi River, and finally stop on a few acres of farmland in Carriere, Mississippi. A high school stands prominently in an empty field. As we begin our search of the school grounds, we pass large satellite dishes used to communicate with other schools. Behind the school, we find goats and chickens wandering in their pens, right next to the catfish pond. And as we walk through the meat lab where sausage and bacon are made, and visit the sewing room strewn with clothing and quilts designed by students, we realize this is no ordinary school.
But it's not just the satellite dishes and farm animals that set this school apart from so many others. A little over a year ago, this place made national headlines. Reporters clamored for interviews as news of a spiritual revival in a tiny southern school swept the nation—a revival that happened here, in the gymnasium of Pearl River Central High School.
It must have been the Jesus skit that triggered the mass response as a 90-minute Fellowship of Christian Athletes assembly turned into a five-hour outpouring of repentance. Hundreds of students crowded the gym floor and lined the hallway waiting for their chance to step up to the microphone—to ask for forgiveness, to praise God, and to thank their friends.
"The revival has changed our school," says junior Josh Spiers, an FCA council member. "You walk down the hallway and you can see it. Before the revival we would have a fight here every week. This year, I've only seen two."
Pearl River graced the pages of Time magazine as critics questioned how a Christian revival could take place in a public school. But no one in Carriere really seems to mind. They continue to fill the band room with worship music, and posters about God line the hallways. What is abolished in other schools has become a way of life here.
And FCA hopes to keep it that way.
"God has worked in our high school and we're doing our best to keep him here," Josh says. " It's up to us to keep God in our classrooms."
Michael: Rebecca and I have fun with each other. And I can talk to her about everything. She opens my eyes up to a lot of things I wouldn't have seen otherwise.
Kimberly: I think we're all friends because we started off in band together. And we all love band because of the instruments we play.
Ben: If something needs to be done, I do it. That's why I've become the unofficial leader of FCA this year. It's really neat that God has given me this responsibility. It's awesome to know that I play a big part in what goes on week after week. It's neat to see how lives are changed when we obey God.
Thomas: FCA gives me a place to come and fellowship with people who I know are going through the same stuff I am. I know I'm not alone.
Jennifer: FCA makes me feel more like the person I want to be. I've found a lot of wonderful friends there. It helped me realize that there is one thing in my life that's never going to change, and that's being a Christian.