Two gangs at one of the biggest high schools in California came into the gym to fight during a Christian club meeting run by One Voice Student Missions, a ministry that “adopts” schools with troubled students for the purpose of evangelism, discipleship, healing and fathering the fatherless.
Ministry leaders at this 400-person club meeting at a school in East Los Angeles say the Holy Spirit “touched” the gang members. The fight never happened. Instead, the gang members came up for prayer.
This unexpected, redemptive turn-of-heart demonstrates the power and impact a spirit of adoption can have.
“Adopting a school is where the church takes responsibility to where we don’t depend upon a government system,” says Brian Barcelona, director of One Voice Student Missions.
“We want the kids that no one else wants. We want those drug addicts. We want those students who struggle with homosexuality. We want those students who have been abused. As a church, we take responsibility spiritually and financially. We make ourselves available,” he says.
As a result of being wanted and realizing their worth through God’s eyes, students are catching the vision and running with it.
"God's wave of revival is approaching Los Angeles, and no one can stop it,” says Uriel Gonzales, the Bible Club student president of the school. “My school will be among the many that will kneel before God and witness His works."
Samuel Alba, an advisor for the Bible Club and a teacher at Roosevelt High School, adds, "Each week I marvel as hundreds of students encounter God’s Word, love and presence. 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."
Barcelona is challenging other churches to join in his “adopt a school” project in which a local church takes responsibility for one to four high schools in their area. One Voice Student Missions is helping train leaders and teams on how to share the gospel in high schools and how to set up prayer rooms in the schools where students can pray and worship.
While some students pray, “God, save our school,” the reality is that half of U.S. high school students reportedly graduate without ever attending church regularly.
Instead of waiting for students to come to church buildings, Barcelona and his One Voice team go to them.
“The greatest burden of my heart is to see students saved and encounter Jesus,” he says. “We’re not here to build buildings. We’re not here to build our own kingdoms.”
Starting out in Elk Grove, Calif., Barcelona has been preaching in high schools for the last six years.
For nine months straight, the Christian clubs he founded in northern California were averaging 300 to 600 high school students per week. Two thousand people, including students, teachers and principals, gave their lives to Jesus within a six-month period, according to the ministry.
Then in 2012, Barcelona had a dream that led him to the next season for his ministry. As he puts it, “God said that He was going to move in a massive way in the high schools of LA.”
In the dream, Barcelona was sitting in a classroom of a two-story building, aware that he was no longer in northern California. When the bell rang, he stood up. Suddenly, a Hispanic young man grabbed him and asked him for his number. Then the student wrote out 323 and waited for Barcelona to give his number. The number 323 turned out to be an area code in Los Angeles.
In April of this year, Lou Engle’s team gave Barcelona and his One Voice team a prophetic word that 100,000 high school students will be saved in the LA school district.
“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, and now 400 young people are gathering in the gymnasium,” says Engle, a prophetic, visionary leader best known for his leadership of TheCall. “It’s a sign that the high schools are ripe for harvest, and Brian is a signpost of the coming explosion of salvations in high schools across America.”
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.
“We’re going to become mothers and fathers to a fatherless generation that doesn’t know Christ yet,” he says.
Barcelona believes the responsibility is not just for a few hearty souls who aren’t afraid of teenagers with hardened exteriors that simply mask brokenness.
“The condition of our society and especially our public schools is the report card of the church,” he says.
But he also says it’s not too late for churches across America to arise. Just as the hearts of the gang members changed in the gym at a Christian club meeting in East LA, there is still time for a turnaround within the church to start reaching out to students in need.
“Let it be said that we wrote history with our lives,” Barcelona says.
Churches that are interested in participating in the “adopt a school” project and getting access to training resources can reach Barcelona’s ministry at onevoicestudentmissions.com.