Thousands of young people from across the United States shared their faith with their peers on Wednesday as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athlete's (FCA) seventh annual national Fields of Faith event, which was held at over 400 locations throughout the country this year.
Fields of Faith provides an opportunity for Christian students to invite their friends to faith rallies, which take place at local school athletic fields.
"The impact of Fields of Faith has been incredible in just these past few years," Les Steckel, FCA president and former NFL coach, said in a statement. "It's all about young people in these communities coming together on their school's athletic field and challenging each other to go back to the fundamentals of reading God's Word and coming to faith in Jesus Christ."
Last year, over 160,000 students in 36 states across 475 fields participated in the event. As a result, 8,741 students committed to reading their Bible every day, 5,202 recommitted their lives to Christ and 3,993 put their faith in Christ for the first time.
Fields of Faith was started after an FCA staffer, Jeff Martin, read 2 Chronicles 34 and saw it as a way to help students today with the spiritual battles they're faced with. In that chapter, a young King Josiah gathered his people and had them pledge to obey the scriptures, which changed the culture within his kingdom.
Lisa Coleman, an FCA area representative for Abilene, Texas, says an average of over 7,000 people have attended the local Fields of Faith event each of the last several years. This year's event will feature a live worship band, four students who will share their testimonies and a local pastor, who will invite non-Christian attendees to put their faith in Christ.
"It's one of the most powerful things that we do; I think it's because of the kids. I think the kids that are willing to be bold and talk about their faith amongst their classmates and their teammates, that seems to be the key to the whole thing," Coleman told The Christian Post on Wednesday.
Coleman says God has blessed this special event. The local school district allowed them to use the field for the event, even though it does not allow FCA to meet on its campuses and members are usually forced to meet in nearby churches. One of the nearby schools even told Coleman that they plan to send students to the event on four of the school's buses.
She also believes the event is particularly effective because the school's football field – a place where students can be found nearly every Friday during the football season – is a "non-threatening" environment.
"It's a great outreach event, to bring kids that would not necessarily be comfortable inside the four walls of a church," she said.
Micah May, the FCA area director for South Central Arkansas, says the Fields of Faith event he helped with starts off with free pizza and drinks for the over 2,000 students. There was also student-led prayer, a worship band, and 10 students from 10 different schools who shared their testimonies.
May says these student testimonies have the potential to make a greater impact than a speech by a professional speaker would.
"Professional speakers are professional speakers, and that's what they're expecting," said May. "But when you get 10 different high school students, they're right in the middle of what these kids are facing, they're transparent with the issues, they have no professional agenda and the kids listen to them. They relate to them. They hear what they're saying, because they know that these guys up here aren't just putting on a show."
Fellowship of Christian Athletes is the largest sports ministry in the world, and has been challenging coaches and athletes at all levels of experience to use athletics as a medium for sharing their faith since 1954.