By Mary O’KEEFE
Over 100 kids filled the drama room at Rosemont Middle School on Tuesday at lunchtime. They were in the seats and on the floor. They were getting out their lunch and eating the free cookies that were handed out as they walked in. Normally middle school lunchtime is a study in social grouping – everyone seems to find their group and stay there – but in the drama room on Tuesday there was no grouping, there was no isolation – it was high-fives and kind words all around.
This is Got Faith, a student- organized and student-run club. The club’s motto is “Spread the love. There are no put downs.” This means too that there are no restrictions to join the club. Although it is a Christian-based club everyone from all denominations is welcome and, according to club mentor Carla Riehl, there have been members from other faiths who join the club.
“This is a safe place,” she said.
On Tuesday the club was very active. The club leaders began by asking the members for any prayer requests. The students asked for prayers for family and friends who were sick, prayers to help parents get and maintain their jobs, for try-outs in sports and for strength in school. The requests flowed from the kids in quiet tones and the leaders took them all. Then it was time to bow their heads in prayer and, with the simplistic approach that comes from children, a prayer covering everyone’s concerns was shared.
Then it was back to laughter and socializing. Eileen Walker, eighth grader, picked up her guitar and shared the song, “The Glory is Yours.” The words were on a big screen at the front of the room and she invited everyone to sing along and many did.
Walker’s family was at the meeting, including her brother Jake, a Crescenta Valley High School graduate. Jake is a youth pastor at the Christian Assembly Church in Eagle Rock. He and lead youth pastor Bo Flores, along with the Walker family, do not normally attend the club meetings but were there to support Eileen.
Lauren Gang came to stage and in an articulate and very confident way talked to the kids about how Jesus is trust.
“All of you know the trust exercise,” she said.
It is when a person stands with their back to another person and, in total trust, falls backwards into their arms.
“No matter what situation you’re in you can trust in God,” she told the club members.
She shared Scripture, Joshua 1:9, and explained how her version of the trust game can relate to Christianity.
“It’s like you are here and Jesus is [the one who catches],” she said.
She then invited the other leaders to demonstrate.
“With Jesus’ help we can accomplish anything,” she added.
About eight years ago Riehl was approached by the school’s administration and asked if she would mentor the club. Each school club is required to have a teacher mentor. Riehl agreed but stressed the club is completely run by the kids.
“Leaders are chosen by past leaders,” she said. “There is an advisory board [of kids] and a new team is interviewed every year.”
The future leaders are chosen from that interview process. The club gets a surprising number of things done during their brief lunchtime break. They leave the meeting as they began, with a prayer, and everyone hurries back to class.