America’s youth has shared the trials of 2020, with empty classrooms, virtual graduations and quarentines.
Many sporting and student events were cancelled and substituted with streams of not so peaceful protests. The looting, destruction and violence on American streets exceeded the riots many of us saw in the 1960s-70s.
Just as we did, youth today have a powerful way to rise above the decimation.
This month nearly 250,000 students, coaches, and community members across America are coming together on more than 500 athletic fields to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dodie and I both enjoyed being active members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and other student groups at our high school in San Antonio, Texas.
“I recall being the only girl at an FCA meeting,” Dodie, a star volleyball player at McCollum High School, laughs. “But hey, girls are athletes too. One of us had to start.”
“Most of the FCA meetings occurred in mornings before classes began,” she remembers. “We had volleyball practice then so it was a challenge and my participation was limited.”
The president of FCA my senior year at McCollum was Jack Comer, Jr. Now a pastor at Circle Drive Baptist Church in Bridge City, Texas. Jack at officiated our wedding in the prayer garden at Boerne First Baptist Church in December.
I still keep in touch and am a Facebook friend of our coach and FCA sponsor Dennis Smith (who has been the timekeeper at San Antonio Spurs basketball games since the 1970’s).
The last FCA meeting my senior year in 1973 was hosted by my parents at our house on West Petaluma Blvd. Coaches Smith, Russell Roberts and Berman Corbell attended.
Reflecting back, I realize it takes a community of coaches, educators, churches and relatives to give students the foundation needed to face whatever trying times they may endure—just like today.
Each October, FCA sponsors Fields of Faith events. These community gatherings are led by students who challenge their peers to pray, read the Bible and follow Christ.
Organizers say having the event at an athletic field offers an open meeting point where everyone can come together.
Dodie and I are looking forward to attending one in the town of Medina, Texas this Sunday at the football stadium. Texas has 21 Fields of Faith events scheduled this month.
The primary focus for Fields of Faith is students sharing their faith with others and revealing what God has done in their lives.
Since 1954 the FCA has been challenging coaches and athletes at all levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. Fields of Faith is a ministry outreach of FCA.
These athletic fields provide a neutral, rally point where Christians, regardless of denomination, in a community can come together.
I’m proud that Texas leads the states participating with 21 events in 2020, but it’s encouraging to see how large these events have expanded:
2004 – 3 States – 23 Fields – 6,000 People
2005 – 3 States – 31 Fields – 9,200 People
2006 – 35 States – 337 Fields – 50,000+ People
2007 – 36 States – 364 Fields – 75,000+ People
2008 – 35 States – 382 Fields – 100,000+ People
2009 – 38 States – 446 Fields – 125,000+ People
2010 – 40 States – 475 Fields – 150,000+ People
2011 – 36 States – 475 Fields – 160,000+ People
2012 – 37 States – 424 Fields – 170,000+ People
2013 – 39 States – 462 Fields – 170,000+ People
2014 – 37 States – 454 Fields – 170,000+ People
2016 – 519 Fields – 192,000+ People
2017 – 501 Fields – 192,000+ People
2018 – 521 Fields – 198,000 People
2019 – 503 Fields – 192,000+ People
In 2002, Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes Area Director, Jeff Martin, prayed about what to do with his heartfelt frustration regarding the temptations and spiritual battles facing our more “spectator generation” youth.
Martin turned to 2 Chronicles 34 for the answer. King Josiah, an influential teenager, gathered his people and challenged them to read God’s Word. As a result, they changed their culture.
“Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.“
Our world is filled with pressures and temptations. We need to stand our ground.
This week we learned from Liberty Counsel, a legal group representing California’s Harvest Rock Church and its ministries in court, that Governor Gavin Newsom “discriminates against churches, home Bible studies and fellowship meetings” but “continues to encourage thousands of protesters to gather throughout the state.”
“Like Gov. Newsom, Pasadena has allowed hundreds and thousands of protesters … many of whom are not wearing masks.”
In 2004, The Josiah-influenced dream came true when more than 6,000 students gathered on school athletic fields throughout Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas for Fields of Faith.
Through the student led events, more than 100 students made decisions for Christ. Since that day hundreds of thousands of people have attended Fields of Faith and thousands have accepted Christ.
Fields of Faith has issued a “What are your rights?” release for local organizers of their events:
The FCA has the right to access an athletic stadium, field, and/or gym for Fields of Faith just like other community organizations.
Coaches and teachers have the right to participate in Fields of Faith as private individuals.
Coaches and teachers have the right to actively participate in Fields of Faith if it is characterized as a community event and not a student group meeting. This includes praying, reading the Word of God, and freely expressing their religious beliefs.
Students have the right to pray, to read the Word of God, and to freely express their religious beliefs at Fields of Faith.
An outside speaker has the right to lead prayer, share the Word of God, freely express his/her faith, and give an invitation.
Students have the right to distribute Fields of Faith brochures and posters to other students on the same terms as they are permitted to distribute other literature of community organizations.
Students have the right to wear clothing and accessories advertising Fields of Faith if clothing is permitted to contain other types of speech.
Students have the right to use religious words on the advertisements for Fields of Faith.
Alliance Defending Freedom
If you have any questions or need legal assistance, please contact:
Alliance Defending Freedom
15100 N. 90th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85260