WHITLEY COUNTY -- Each Friday morning, the library of Whitley County High School becomes so full with students there is no room to sit.
What makes Friday special? It's when the school's First Priority Club chooses to host their weekly meeting.
First Priority is a student-led Christian leadership club that aims to provide outreach and fellowship to students of the school. One of the biggest ways they do this is by hosting a meeting outside of school hours where students can learn and grow in their walk of faith.
This means that every Friday at 7:40 a.m., students file into the library to gain new knowledge before the school day even starts.
The First Priority student leaders organize these meetings in a way that ensures that their classmates have the most meaningful experiences possible. Sometimes a group of students use scripture to give a message, sometimes a student may show a video and elaborate on it, or sometimes someone may just share their testimony; it's really up to the student leaders to discern what the morning will bring.
The club also has a special "outreach week" once a month. For that morning, the club chooses a sports team or a school club to give special recognition to. This means that the members of the chosen team or group are specifically invited to attend in order to receive a certificate of appreciation and some type of breakfast food from First Priority.
Although the chosen club is the targeted audience for the occasion, any student is allowed to attend and partake in the event.
"We want to show students appreciation, feed them breakfast and share a Godly word with them," explained First Priority teacher sponsor, David Halcomb.
During last week's "outreach" for the school's football team, Pastor of Mountain Ash Baptist Church Billy Carpenter was invited to come speak.
Carpenter has pastored Mountain Ash for 43 years and it's the only church he's ever been a member of. But, long before he was a pastor, Carpenter was a football player for Whitley County High School.
"I still meet people who I went to school with and they'll look at me and say 'man, you're a miracle' because we always thought you'd be a prisoner somewhere but we never thought you'd be a preacher," said Carpenter.
Carpenter spoke about the life of sin that he lived. He told students that, in the beginning, he didn't even go to church for the right reasons; he was simply chasing after a girl.
"I didn't know I'd be saved. I didn't know God would call me to preach," he admitted.
He told students that he felt something "knocking at the door of his heart." He then went on to say that the knock was Jesus, and he bragged on Christ for the happiness and joy that salvation brought into his life.
Carpenter encouraged students to listen for that knock within their own hearts and to share the gospel with others if they had already let Jesus in.
Halcomb, who has led the Christian leadership group for around 17 years now, believes that First Priority is one of the most powerful tools to share that message.
"Our school's our greatest mission field. There's so many in our hallways that don't get to attend church and I think that First Priority is a great way to introduce kids to Christ," he said.
The club is a unique opportunity for students to strengthen each other through the sharing of testimony, prayer requests and scripture. Although Halcomb has witnessed the club's highs and lows within the many years he's mentored its leaders, he hopes that it continues to be a presence in the school for years to come.