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Teens Find Faith in God and Each Other

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RALEIGH — There has been a spiritual awakening among teenagers recently, particularly since theColumbine High School shootingsin Colorado, a killing spree that left 15 dead.

Columbine victim Cassie Bernall said "yes" when one of the gunmen asked her if she believed in God. Bernall is one of many young Christians willing to openly declare their faith.

Teens and young adults at the Fuquay-Varina United Methodist Church are learning to lean on God.

"Teenagers, I think, are special," says church member Aria Proctor. "They have hormones. They're susceptible to so many bad things every day. And if you're a Christian and you have God in your life, it is so much easier."

"I've experienced several things that have challenged my faith and being strong in that will help you through it," says Zack Evans.

Proctor, Evans and other teens say their faith was strong before the Columbine tragedy, but now they are finding it easier to openly profess their faith, to stand up to non-believers and even witness to their peers.

These teens mix with young adults, unconcerned that being a Christian might mean they are not popular at school.

"I'm not worried about it at all. I'm a Jesus freak and I'm proud of it," Proctor says.

In fact, it is becoming fashionable to be a Christian, for teens to carry their faith into the world at a time in their lives when they are longing for attachment, security, and a sense of morality.

Sociology professor Eric Woodrum sees the development as a positive sign.

"Young people, like adults, they feel very regularly a need and a critical value in being connected with some larger and even eternal kind of truths and purposes," Woodrum says.

A growing number of students are forming chapters of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Started about 45 years ago as a group for athletes, it is now open to all students.

The chapter at Southeast Raleigh High School meets after school once a week.

"It's just good that we can stand up and show our school that God means something to us," says student Stephanie Bliss. "We will stand together, and stand up for God."

The students say this kind of spiritual support on campus reminds them there are alternatives when they are lonely, hurting and tempted to make poor choices.

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Pam Saulsby, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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