Fields of Faith
By: Kent Hutchison
Just as the Youth Band from Archbold Evangelical Church was warming up for the Fields of Faith at Biddle Park on October 12, the skies darkened and rain was imminent. However, the rapidly approaching precipitation did nothing to dampen the spirits of the anxiously awaiting participants. On the contrary, those in attendance loaded up in their vehicles, along with the band equipment, and headed south as the event was simply moved a few blocks down the street to Wauseon High School. Once there, the gathering was appropriately renamed the “Gymnasium of God” by area FCA Director, Rex Stump.
Fields of Faith, the brainchild of then Oklahoma FCA Area Director, Jeff Martin, began on October 13, 2004. On that date approximately 6,000 students joined together on school athletic fields in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. Their purpose you might ask? To join together in a student led event in which fellowship and prayers are shared, as well as many accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior. The interdenominational event provides students the opportunity to come together and share their personal testimonies, the love of Jesus Christ, and to pray for all topics and concerns. Since 2004 students have assembled on the second Wednesday in October, typically at 7 pm. The gathering has seen amazing growth since its beginning as statistics from 2015 show Fields of Faith events were held in 41 States and 2 Countries on 526 different athletic venues with an impressive participation of more than 189,000!
The historical beginning of Fields of Faith in Northwest Ohio is quite similar to the National origin. According to Rex, “Rick Straley, FCA Area Representative in Defiance County (Hicksville), felt compelled to initiate a Fields of Faith in his area, along with other student leaders. A small group of student leaders and Rick began making plans and held our first area FOF event in Hicksville in 2010. A year later, Wauseon student leaders soon decided to do the same. Student leadership has shifted from one school (Wauseon) to two schools (Wauseon and Archbold). In 2015 Archbold students mostly led the event. This year, students from 7 area schools (Archbold, Fayette, Pettisville, Wauseon, Delta, North Central, and Liberty Center) are sharing responsibility in planning and promoting the event! Meanwhile Hicksville has continued to host their Fields of Faith the past five years with student leadership coming from Antwerp, Hicksville, Wayne Trace, Fairview, Edon, and Edgerton”.
The event at Wauseon High School held true to the intended form. Approximately 400 students and adults filled the gym. This included students from Fulton and Williams Counties in Ohio, and Lenawee County in Michigan. Another 220 people from Defiance, Paulding, and Williams Counties were in attendance at a similar gathering in Hicksville.
After everyone made the transition from Biddle Park, Rex Stump directed everyone to the bleachers. Ally Teft and Avery Giguere welcomed those in attendance and explained the purpose of Fields of Faith. Conner Hicks then lead the opening prayer, and Daisy Giguere and Emie Peterson following by sharing Bible verses.
Leah Hall then stepped to the microphone to reveal her testimony. She began by sharing the story of the house fire her family experienced. According to Leah, before the fire she wanted to control everything, but following the fire she realized that God was in control. Leah stated that she would not wish a house fire on anyone, but would not trade the experience because through it God made her more patient, trusting, passionate, and most importantly more reliant. Leah closed by challenging everyone to focus less on themselves, and become closer to and trust in God.
Morgan Miller read Psalm 66:19-20, then shared how important she felt prayer was. Morgan communicated her feelings that God wants a close connection to us and we need to take the time each day to have an open conversation with Him and give thanks. She finished by challenging everyone to set aside a certain time each day to pray.
James 1:2-3 was read by Carly Bontrager. Carly emphasized these verses were a constant reminder to put her trust in God and thank Him in times of trials.
Max Baker then took his turn. He asked the question if anyone felt Jesus’ presence. Max said the loud “boom” from the speaker during the opening prayer made him sure the Lord was in attendance! Being a pastor’s child, Max shared that he has moved three times in his life. He felt the move to Northwest Ohio was the most difficult due to what he described as the “Quiet culture”. Making friends was a little hard according to Max. Being challenged on the playground one day to say a curse word, and actually saying one, led to acceptance for him. Max added it was nice having new friends, and life was good after he began to use profanity. He discovered that once he began swearing it became very easy for him to do so. However, Max also realized the cussing was preventing him from being as close to Jesus as he felt he should be. Max shared, “I turned to praying and reading the Bible more and got closer to Jesus”. He read James 3:10-12 to the crowd which reiterates his feelings about cursing separating us from Jesus. Max closed with the following, “Pray, read your Bibles, get as close to Jesus as possible. You won’t regret it”.
The featured speaker for the evening, Josh Lane, was next up. Josh, a Christian Ministry Major at Taylor University, is the roommate of Rex Stump’s son Collin. He is also the son of the Florida Marlins Team Chaplin, Chris Lane, and after his message it is clear that Josh is well on his way to following in his father’s footsteps. Josh followed up Max by agreeing that he also felt the Lord’s presence in the gym and excited him! Following a prayer, Josh shared the Bible story of Joshua, as well as his affirmation of verses Colossians 3:23, and what Josh stated was his life verse, Joshua 1:9. The verse Joshua 1:9 is also ironically the FCA verse for the year. Josh emphasized how Joshua was faced with the daunting tasks of leading the people after Moses, and more importantly leading them to the Promised Land. The Lord directed Joshua to be strong and courageous, and Josh challenged the students in attendance to do the same in sharing the gospel with other students and teammates. Josh went on to provide his three steps to develop the strength and courage needed to share the gospel. The first was to know the word of God. Josh emphasized the importance of spending time in His word which Josh referred to as “Getting tight with God”. The next step was to “Get right with God”. Josh’s advice to accomplish this was by trusting in Him, as well as praying and meditating. Finally Josh noted for him it was often more difficult to share the gospel with friends and people he knew, than to strangers. His recommendation for the students was to surround themselves with people who would support them, but also hold them accountable to live according to God’s word.
Next he shared the story of the three crowns and challenged everyone to live for God and Jesus, instead of themselves. In closing he asked those in attendance to close their eyes and take a moment to think of times God has been present in their lives. He referred to Moses, Elijah, Abraham, David, and Samson as examples of when things seemed impossible, but God was there to provide the unlikely outcome. How they were all sinners like us, and God provided for them or forgave them. He said we have the same opportunity if we will believe like they did and live a life that is pleasing to Him, and that victory belongs to the Lord!
Teagan Kauffman then directed the audience to break up into small circular groups for prayers which covered a wide variety of intentions. After several minutes of supplication, those in attendance reorganized as one to form an enormous prayer circle that swelled to the walls of the gymnasium. In that circle Rex Stump challenged the participants to raise their arms, and as the 2016 FCA verse Joshua 1:9 directs to Rise Up!
The evening concluded with songs performed by the Archbold Evangelical Youth Band. Although the weather moved the event inside, it was still truly a night of awesome faith and praise!
For more information on Fields of Faith, please visit the website, https://www.fieldsoffaith.com/ or the Buckeye Border FCA website at http://www.bbfca.org/