TOCCOA, Ga. — Some students who enrolled in the new Christian learning centers that have opened in northeast Georgia are getting more than Bible-based education.
They’re finding salvation.
At least 27 students in Stephens, Banks and Franklin counties have made professions of faith this school year through Christian learning centers opened over the past two years.
“These kids are our future, and, if we don’t influence them, the world will,” said Shane Pauley, director of the Banks County learning center. “They’re going to be our teachers in a few years. They’re going to be our county and state leaders. If we can lead them toward a life of obedience to Christ, we can impact our future.”
Churches in the Tugalo Baptist Association helped to create the Christian learning centers under a law that has been on the books since 1952. It allows students to go off campus for Bible classes as long as the courses are voluntary, no government funds are used, and parents give their consent.
They have proven especially popular in schools within the Tugalo association, with more than 400 students taking part since August.
“Seeing students get saved is always miraculous, but we’re also seeing students sharing their faith, taking the gospel back into their schools and homes,” said Noel Pauley, director of the learning center in Stephens County. “
Stephens County High School student Easton Scroggs, speaking at a year-end celebration Sunday night at First Baptist Church in Toccoa, said he has learned much through the program.
“It’s an amazing thing when you can get away from campus and really dive deep into your faith,” he said.
Scroggs said too many students of his generation are growing up without Jesus.
“Being Christian is not a cool or popular thing,” he said. “Christians are now a minority, and it will be this generation that will have to stand firm in the faith, to stand strong and say, ‘as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.’ And this organization is training us to be able to do exactly that.”
Stephens County graduating senior Jackson Moore said the Christian learning center he attended has an amazing staff that’s committed to helping students grow in their faith.
“The Christian learning center gives students the opportunity to be surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals who share a common faith,” he said. “I’ve made some amazing friends in this class, and we’ve been able to support each other in difficult times.”
In their first year, 38 students made salvation decisions at the Christian learning centers, bringing the total number of students saved in two years to at least 70.
Tugalo Baptist Association mission strategist Mike Blount said students come to the learning centers five days a week for classes that include Bible study, devotional messages and prayer.
“We make it a safe place for them, a place where they can share what they’re thinking and talk about what they believe,” Blount said.