When the gates at Gordon Wood Stadium open at 6:30 p.m. today, thousands of teens and adults will filter in to take part in the fifth annual Fields of Faith event.
Fields of Faith is a national student-led activity in partnership with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes that provides teenagers a forum where they can share testimonies, read the Bible and for some, find salvation or rededicate their lives.
“What struck me the most was when I asked the FCA sponsors how many of students in school are unchurched,” said Kirk Wall, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Brownwood Leadership Board, said. “They said it was close to 80 percent. I couldn’t believe it, but they’re closer to the kids than I am.”
Wall said the Fields of Faith event and other FCA activities give young people - and adults as well - an opportunity to invite students to faith-based activities than don’t seem as formidable as church.
“Why can a kid invite someone who knows nothing about faith to an FCA event and have them feel good about attending, when they don’t want anything to do with it when they invite that same kid to church?” Wall said. “Well, this is a football field, it’s not a church, and they are out there with their classmates.”
Last year’s Fields of Faith at Gordon Wood Stadium drew nearly 3,500 visitors. This year, 30 school districts from Brown, Coleman, Comanche and McCulloch counties as well as 110 churches have been invited to participate.
“We are expecting 5,000 this year but are hoping for a lot more,” said Nikki Heath, a sponsor for the Brownwood High School FCA.
Brownwood, who will be playing host for the second year, will be represented by several Brownwood High FCA members, including junior Samantha Bush.
“I am really excited about Fields of Faith,” Bush said. “It gives me a chance to reveal God to others who don’t have a relationship - and it also helps me enjoy a spiritual connection with others and make friends from so many different places.”
Senior Dillon Scott said the outreach aspect makes the event worthwhile.
“Fields of Faith appeals to everyone, not just a certain person or clique. Teenagers, adults, everyone who wants to come is more than welcome to attend.”
Scott said he also enjoys observing the power of prayer.
“It is amazing to be able to pray for others and watch how Christ touches everyone, whether it be in a small way or a big way. And, when people pray for me, it is exciting to know that someone can care for you that much.”
The praise and worship integrated throughout the evening is a favorite for sophomore Michelle Pickard.
“Music is where I am able to get in touch with God the most,” Pickard said. “It is awesome how God can show up and others can see what he can do. God’s love is awesome.”
The three students agreed that the holy spirit would be at work. “It is cool. People are going to hear God and experience his love for them,” Pickard said.
Teenagers, family members and all others who are interested are encouraged to attend,” Heath said.
“(Fields of Faith) is a huge blessing and we hope to double last year’s number.”
Wall said the faith witness provided by FCA is continuing to grow.
“Every week, some of the kids who will attend FCA are hopefully influencing their classmates,” Wall said. “And we’re seeing that this is something that’s affecting more than just the students. It’s involving adults too.”
Fields of Faith was created when, in 2002, Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes Area Director Jeff Martin felt a need to unite the younger generation and bring kids back to the fundamentals of the “game plan of life.”
Two years later, according to its Web site www.fieldsoffaith.com, the idea became reality when more than 6,000 students in three states joined simultaneously at different football fields to kick of the first Fields of Faith.
Since then, the numbers have continued to grow. In 2007, 364 football fields in 36 states were occupied by 75,000-plus event goers. Texas currently hosts the most events, with 39 in 2007.
Martin followed a model created by Josiah, the King of Judah in 632 B.C., who brought the scriptures to the people, which before that had been considered to be lost. According to the biblical account, Josiah then gathered his people together in one location and began sharing the word of God.