Gateway News visited St Thomas High School, Port Elizabeth yesterday to get a first-hand experience of a move of God that has transformed the school over the past two months.
We spoke to the principal, Christopher de Doncker, who said there was a “new positive vibe in the school” as a result of the ongoing revival during which hundreds of children have made commitments to Jesus and a number of miracles have taken place.
We also met up with revivalist Shannon-Leigh Barry, 25, a former St Thomas learner, who sparked the revival when she spoke at a school assembly on March 5, where about 500 learners responded to a salvation altar call. Since then Shannon has given up her old day job and has been leading ongoing revival meetings at the school during school breaks and after school. The school has recently provided her with a spacious, empty classroom to use for meetings which are held under the auspices of United in Christ (UIC), an interdenomincational Christian movement that has been running at the school for more than a decade.
The video clips below, which were given to us by Shannon-Leigh, capture something of the new atmosphere of revival at the school and the learners’ joy in worship that has developed over the past two months.
We (my wife, Val, who taught at St Thomas decades ago, and I) attended a UIC meeting at first break yesterday. Shannon-Leigh’s father, Mark Barry, who is a teacher at St Thomas, and one of three UIC facilitators on the staff, was also at the meeting that was attended by about 60 learners. The meeting started with a salvation call during which several young people committed and recommitted their lives to Jesus. Then after a time of worship learners were taught how to receive the gift of tongues and many received prayer for the release of prophetic gifting and leadership. Learners were encouraged to pray for one another.
We chatted to several learners who attended the meeting. One of them, Sean Wolfkop, 16, a Grade 11 learner at the school said he became a Christian through the revival and that he had been attending the UIC meetings at school for about a month. Sean said he was part of a team going to Cape Town to participate in a national breakdance competition where he would be sure to tell others about his faith in Jesus.
I also spoke to Ruayne Ruiters, 17, a Grade 10 learner who is a long-standing member of the UIC. He said his mother, Alice, had been praying for four years for God to send someone to the school to minister to the children.
“Now Shannon has come. God is using her to lift the spirit of the school,” he said.
Ruiters said that even some Muslims were turning to Jesus as a result of the great things they saw happening at the school.
“Personally I feel closer to God and I have more faith to spread the Gospel boldly: it just flows. I am also becoming bolder to risk prophesying.”
Gateway News also received hand-written testimonies from four St Thomas girls. (You can read their testimonies here).
De Doncker (the school principal) said that for the past year, staff at the school had started each day with a time of prayer and devotion. He said the school was situated in a troubled area where many young people were involved in gangs. Commenting on the ongoing revival meetings he said it was remarkable to see teenagers choosing to stay on after school to worship on Friday afternoons.
Shannon-Leigh, who is passionate about raising a generation of young revivalists, will be leading a session at the Identity Youth Conference at the Uitenhage Civic Centre at 7pm on Saturday. Next week she is going to be ministering for several days at a school in Cape Town.