Rival gangs pray instead of brawl

by Karen L. Willoughby, |
There is standing room only at a Hollywood, California, student prayer meeting. | Courtesy of One Voice Student Missions

LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) -- Rival gangs in California gathering for a brawl, instead draw together now for prayer.

A spiritual awakening among high school students that started in 2009 in Elk Grove, northern California near Sacramento, did not so much spread as it transferred to Southern California when, following what he said was God's direction, One Voice Student Missions founder Brian Barcelona moved in 2012 to the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

It is an awakening that gave hope back to a teen girl planning her suicide for later that day.

It is an awakening to what Barcelona says will be 100 schools in the Los Angeles area, 100,000 high school students making life-changing commitments to follow Jesus Christ, and rippling across the nation in a movement that ultimately -- Barcelona said God told him -- will see prayer restored in schools nationwide.

"Brian is a signpost of the coming explosion of salvations in high schools across America," said Lou Engle, a prayer activist best known for The Call prayer assemblies. "After Brian received a dream that led him to Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, the doors flung open with favor from the school administration.

"Now 400 young people are gathering in the gymnasium," Engle continued. "It's a sign that the high schools are ripe for harvest."

"By all accounts, Barcelona is a dynamic speaker who speaks to real issues that resonate with young people," according to the godreports.com blog. "Initially free pizza is given to attract the curious, but then the Word and the Spirit begins to work in the students' hearts."

Charisma magazine also has written about the phenomenon.

"Barcelona is passionate about seeing a new move of God, and he is embracing the responsibility to bring the love of Christ into gang-infested schools with students who mostly live under the poverty line," reported the Pentecostal publication.

One Voice Student Missions school clubs have a four-part purpose: evangelism, discipleship, healing and fathering the fatherless.

"We want the kids that no one else wants," Barcelona said. "We want those drug addicts. We want those students who struggle with homosexuality. We want those students who have been abused."

The teens respond to the love that is poured out on them, leaders say. As they realize their worth in God's eyes, they catch the One Voice vision of a nation transformed because of teenagers praying and fasting.

"I see the need for prayer in California," Barcelona said. "Through prayer, I believe we will see kids get out of drugs; we will see fighting decrease in schools.

"Prayer will change the direction of everything," Barcelona added.

"Each week I marvel as hundreds of students encounter God's word, love and presence," said Samuel Alba, a teacher at Roosevelt High School in Corona, California, and an adviser for the Bible Club at Roosevelt. "Last week as I walked through a crowded basketball gym and witnessed students tearfully calling upon the name of the Lord, the realization of what God was doing in our school began to set in. However, another realization soon surfaced--that this is only the beginning."

One Voice staff are responsible for outreach on three campuses and have trained local churches to "adopt a school" to minister to students and teachers on 13 additional school campuses, for a total of about 2,500 students being reached each week.

"The greatest burden of my heart is to see students saved and encounter Jesus," Barcelona said. "We're not here to build buildings; we're not here to build our own kingdoms."