They could have been fast friends from the start, aside from their faith; however, the fact that they both share an overwhelming love for God and a desire to spread his word solidified their friendship.
"The first time that we really bonded was when we had a math project due our freshman year," said Richard Callan, a senior at Greenbrier High School. "We got to talking and found out that we had some of the same interests and desires in sharing God's word."
Richard and classmate Kevin Lillis set out to make an impact at their school. They approached teacher Karen Hickman their sophomore year about using her classroom for a weekly Bible study and invited all students to attend.
"We noticed some of the older students were starting clubs and activities, and Kevin and I really wanted to start a Bible study," said Richard, a member of West Acres Baptist Church in Evans. "We knew there was a Bible study the year before by a few seniors, but there wasn't much our sophomore year. We thought maybe we should take on this responsibility."
The Friday morning meetings began with a handful of students. But during the next two years, the group would grow to between 20 and 30.
"These boys started with just a handful of people and now, there is standing room only in my class," said Hickman, a literature teacher at Greenbrier High. "How refreshing to see this when there is so much rottenness that can happen.
Richard Callan (left) and Kevin Lillis started a Bible study group at Greenbrier High School three years ago.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"This is the third year these guys have done this; they are not a 'fly-by-night' group. Now they want to groom someone to take their place."
"That's God working through Richard and I," said Kevin of the growth of the group. "That's God using us as tools to share his message with others."
While Kevin and Richard are of different denominations - Kevin is a member of Central Church of Christ in Martinez, where he is a member of the Teen Leadership Committee - the two say their love for God and their wanting to share his word far outweighs the differences.
"We clicked so easily," said Richard, who is a leader of the West Acres praise band, where he plays guitar and sings. "I think it's great, just for us to have the opportunity to do this."
Students around Greenbrier High School often see Richard and Kevin with their Bibles, reading Scripture and taking notes. Some ask questions; others simply ask for a prayer to be lifted for a sick parent, a lonely friend or a disheartened neighbor.
"It's really encouraging to both of us," said Richard, the 17-year-old son of Dr. Richard and Debbie Callan, of Evans. "We do not try to convert people to what we are. We don't put a lot of stress on that. We prepare lessons on faith and patience and things like that with Scripture added in."
Kevin, the 18-year-old son of Mike and JoAnne Lillis of Evans, and Richard alternate preparing the lessons used in the Bible study.
"Each week, they prepare a lesson, begin and close with prayer and create a sense of calm and sanity for a bunch of us - yes, me too," said Hickman, who provides doughnuts while Kevin and Richard bring the hot chocolate. "They are always prepared, enthusiastic and full of fun and grace.
"The kids bring Bibles and a great attitude, and for 30 minutes, my classroom fills up with students who want to get closer to their faith."
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