The road hasn’t always been easy for First Priority (FP) Greater Birmingham, but it has been fruitful.
On Oct. 17 supporters and volunteers of the organization gathered at Vulcan Park in Birmingham to hear the stories of God’s faithfulness and power through programs happening at schools throughout metro-Birmingham.
Greg Davis, president of FP Alabama, announced FP Greater Birmingham, which he oversees, was recently recognized as the longest active chapter of FP, serving since FP America’s creation in 1996.
“Thank you to all the volunteers, workers and staff that have been with us,” Davis said. “I haven’t found anything that reaches teenagers for the gospel better.”
Davis said FP was created to reach students where they are. “There’s just a small portion of teenagers in church,” he said. “But they are all in school.”
The desire for this type of ministry in schools was so great, they formed FP Kids a few years ago to reach into elementary schools. FP now produces Bibles explaining the gospel and the characteristics of God, and teaches kids how to share the gospel with their friends and about the important tenants of the Christian faith.
But they’ve faced opposition. The Freedom from Religion Foundation has been trying to keep FP out of schools, but Davis said, “Everything we do is legal. We’re going to continue to press forward.”
Eunice Pickens, a FP campus coach for the Bessemer City School system, has served with FP for 26 years — for all of its existence.
“I told God if I was going to do this, I needed something tangible,” she said. “I asked Him to help us get out of the red academically, get rid of the violence on our campuses and keep our teenagers from getting pregnant.”
All of her prayers have been answered.
“First Priority is one of the most powerful campus clubs any school can have because lives are changed and lives are saved,” she said. “It’s forever.”
Pickens even had a student tell her once that he didn’t go to church anywhere, but “First Priority is my church.”
Jacob Patton, a former FP student leader at Mortimer Jordan High School in Morris, said “I’m evidence of FP efforts being fruitful.” He described the Christmas toy drives and the fundraisers that FP held at his school and the impact they had on the community and the world.
“I saw people that couldn’t or wouldn’t go to church come to FP where they heard the gospel,” he said.
“Thank you for being here because it is people like you that made FP possible,” Patton said to those in attendance. “And it is the reason why I am a follower of Christ.”
Uawanna Day, campus coach at Abrams Elementary, said three children have already given their lives to Christ.
“God is doing great things all over this land,” she said.
Dennis “The Swan” Swanberg refreshed those present with jokes and impersonations while showing the importance of the hope of the gospel. “It’s refreshing when you have the hope that comes with a relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said.
The FP volunteers have the chance each week to refresh the next generation with the hope and the love of Jesus Christ, he said.
“We can’t all be [FP volunteers and coaches], but we can pray and we can give and the FP folks show up on our behalf,” Swanberg said.
For more information about FP Alabama visit www.firstpriorityal.com.