When she hears the buzzword “safe place,” school isn’t what normally comes to mind for 13-year-old Lexie P.
As a middle-school student in Georgia, too often she feels she “can’t talk about my faith without being told, ‘No.’ I have to learn about other religions in school that I don’t follow, and I can’t even learn about my own religion at school, which really upsets me,” she explains. “It’s not a safe place to me.”
Last year, however—for at least one whole school day—that changed: “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” she says, “was one of the safest days I’ve ever [had] in school. Kids were talking about [Jesus], they were professing the Gospel and I just felt like there was nothing to fear, the light has come in and there was no more darkness.”
Lexie was one of more than 155,000 students nationwide—from kindergarten to college—who participated in the event in 2015. Sponsored annually by Focus on the Family, the event empowers students to take their Bibles to school as a visual way to share God’s hope with friends and celebrate their right to free speech.
“This is about students who have a very real faith and love for Jesus and who care about their classmates,” Focus on the Family President Jim Daly wrote in a blog post before the event last year. “In their hearts is a desire to live out their faith boldly, yet many have felt like they need to hide their faith. We believe the Bible should be celebrated, not banned. And ‘Bring Your Bible to School Day’ is one way we’re empowering students to get out there and celebrate their religious freedom and faith.”
When Lexie heard about the initiative, she teamed up with her best friend, Sydney C., to lead it at their school. “I kind of got worried that nobody would do it,” says Sydney. “I was sitting there praying about it, and I was just like … I feel like we need to do this. It was just kind of a cool thing.
“There was some doubt, but then I realized I didn’t have to doubt, because I’m following God.”
The girls put their faith in action, making T-shirts and spreading the word on social media. The fruits of that faith were more than either of them had imagined: About 70 of their classmates met at the school flagpole that morning, proudly holding their Bibles. “I said, ‘Everybody grab a hand,’ and I just started praying,” recalls Sydney. “I’ve never experienced God speaking through me before until this. In that moment, I really did feel the presence of the Lord upon me, and I was like, ‘This is Jesus.’ ”
Afterward, nearly 150 students walked through the hallways with their Bibles, reading and talking about God’s Word during free time. “It was my first time to ever see this happen,” Lexie says. “The whole time I was thinking, ‘God has got His arms wrapped around the school.’ It was like God was shining through the hallways. It was just amazing.”
As students nationwide participated, their enthusiasm spilled over onto social media, spurring news headlines about Twitter lighting up with “selfies” of students holding their Bibles. The hashtag for the event–#BringYourBible—also was a trending item on Facebook that day.
Standing for Jesus
The event, says Lexie, transformed not only her school, but also her life.
“I am, for the most part, a very quiet person and this kind of let me exceed my boundaries and step out of my comfort zone,” she explains. “But I feel like Bring Your Bible to School Day has lifted that weight off me.
“I will stand by Jesus for anything now—and if Bring Your Bible to School Day had not happened, I would not have been able to change in that way. “
Eleven-year-old Carson R. in Indiana also reported surprising results from his Bring Your Bible to School Day activities. He and his little brother, Sam, led the event at their elementary school two years in a row. The first year, they had just a few participants. But last year, Carson decided to give announcements to students in every grade. As a result, nearly 40 kids participated. They gave 28 Bibles to classmates who wanted one and started a new Bible Club that now meets before school once a week.
When Carson got on the school bus that morning with his Bibles, the first person to ask him for one was the last person he expected—a classmate who had previously challenged him and his friends about their Christian beliefs.
Before, the classmate was “stating kind of plainly that there is no proof that God exists and you shouldn’t believe it,” Carson recalls. “This year he asked for a Bible the first time I brought them in. I gave him one.
“I think he’s been reading it occasionally.”
For More Information:
This year’s Bring Your Bible to School Day will take place Oct. 5. Sign up for the event and download free age-specific participation guides for students, as well as different versions for parents and pastors, at focusonthefamily.com/bringyourbible. For more testimonials, visit BringYourBible.org.
Originally published in the October 2016 issue of Citizen magazine.