While lines of students shuffled to their morning classes and cars screeched at streetlights, one small ring of about a dozen students stood beneath campus flag poles with their heads bowed in hushed reflection.
For over 25 years, “See You at the Pole” (SYATP) has marked Sept. 27 as an international day of prayer, uniting students all around the world and in every time zone.
It started in 1990 in Burleson, Texas, according to Doug Clark, a SYATP coordinator, when six teenagers felt compelled by God to pray for people in their community in front of nearby schools and sought a spiritual awakening. Their youth pastor helped spread the word throughout Texas for a second event that year at the Dallas Reunion Arena, which attracted over 20,000 students.
Clark called it a “great grassroots swell” as these student-led initiatives reached four more states by 1991 before it appeared in all 50 states and 63 countries across the globe.
Now, 27 years later, an estimated 1 million students from junior high through college participate all around the world, in more than 64 countries. This includes Canada, Korea, Japan, Turkey and the Ivory Coast.
The event was brought to TCU three years ago by now junior finance and computer information technology double major Rebeca Gonzalez through her Christian student organization Chi Alpha. Gonzalez said prayer is powerful and it’s important for Christians on campus to pray for their school.
Gonzalez lead the service and prayed for the campus’ safety in light of the armed robbery on campus.
“I pray against violence on this campus,” she said in prayer. “I pray against robbery. I pray against sexual assault. I pray against all those awful things that are happening at TCU’s campus, that this just becomes a safer place, that it becomes a safer haven. It becomes a place where people build each other up and walk with each other through these difficult situations. God we just ask for protection over this campus, protection to be over the students.”
Other students in the circle had their fellow Horned Frogs in their minds.
“I was praying over our community,” sophomore education major Jessica Harper said. “Over the safety of it, over students, over the tests- especially because this is such a hard time of year for students- people feel the weight of school actually kicking in.”
First-year undeclared major Nicholaus Noguez said the power of community is what compelled him to join Wednesday morning.
“In the Christian faith and in many faiths in general, prayer is just stronger whenever more people are together,” Noguez said. “I think it’s just amazing to see so many different countries coming together.”
Recent natural disasters in the U.S were also lifted up in prayer this morning. Being at a Texas school, several of the participating TCU students had personal ties to Hurricane Harvey and wanted to pray for their family and friends affected.
“I’ve had a lot of family members affected by [Hurricane Harvey] and we are just not strong enough to do it on our own and we need Christ in order to get through it,” junior nursing major Michael Rodriguez said.
Other students said they felt the same need for the extra support brought through prayer.
Norguez said with all that is currently going on the world, “prayer is the best thing you can do.”