Awakening shifts community’s spirit

Published 4:15 pm Monday, October 18, 2010

(L-R) Rob Bugg, Marissa Wilkins, John Menke and Nolan Vinson, all Pelham High School juniors, attended The Awakening.

“PHS is awake!” The juniors’ pep rally sign sporting these words seemed appropriate after the Awakening event at the Verizon Wireless Music Center in Pelham.

And our pep rally didn’t seem so much like a class competition as it did a celebration.

Many were surprised to hear that PHS Athletic Director and head football coach Brett Burnett approached football team chaplain, Pelham First Baptist Youth Minister Donnie Sisk, about organizing a communitywide outreach. Burnett is soft-spoken, he’s a football coach and it’s October.

He has his hands full. And PHS is a public school.

What sort of revival emanates from a public school?

The truth is revivals don’t come from schools or coaches or even youth ministers.

Revival comes when one person recognizing spiritual hunger and pain says, “I can’t open eyes to what’s really important. God help us.” When that man is Burnett, and the man he asks for help is Sisk — a man who shares with Burnett a heart for God and a strong commitment to Pelham High School students — a powerful prayer walk begins.

The venue was arranged, speakers secured and popular bands booked — all for free.

Community meetings began. Students in Pelham’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, First Priority and Leaders of Life mobilized to publicize the event.

Fliers and a website materialized. Excitement grew, crowds came and lives were changed.

PHS Junior John Menke said, “The awakening was just what I needed to get turned around in the right direction.”

Sisk told Tuesday’s crowd, “Brett Burnett and I have prayed that God would move in a mighty way. God has answered our prayer and it’s beautiful.”

On Wednesday, noted radio personality, Rick Burgess, called on parents to love their children unconditionally.

Thursday, Scott Dawson told the crowd that “God is not so much in the business of giving you your desires as He is in the business of changing your desires.”

And is our school changed? Senior Brandi Hill said, “We have more students at FCA and students are talking about God.”

Junior Nolan Vinson said, “I was awestruck by how many students and parents came. I don’t hear cursing in the halls anymore and our school is a cheerier place.”

Our awakening didn’t happen on the school grounds.

Our awakening began in a few precious hearts, shifted our community’s spirit and transformed us into people who choose to live differently.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at