CABOT, Ark. – Last Wednesday, October 13, 1,100 students from five different communities gathered at Panther Stadium in Cabot to hear the Gospel at Fields of Faith, an event sponsored by Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
According to Josh Adair, who has worked with Central Arkansas FCA as the Lonoke County area coordinator for two years now, 29 Fields of Faith have happened around the state in 2021. This was Cabot’s second year to host one.
“Cabot had their first one in 2019, and we anticipated having another one in 2020 but COVID shut us down,” Adair said. “The last time we did it, though, there were between 600-650 students, and it was Cabot only.”
In 2019, Adair was just starting with FCA after spending 15 years as a youth pastor. He said he understood what a student driven, community sponsored event like Fields of Faith could do as a positive impact for surrounding churches and the students in the community. So, he began to pray and reach out to pastors in the area he covers to see just how big 2021 could be.
“Josh got us together late August, early September, and we began to have a conversation on how we could put together a Fields of Faith event and who could put together what portions of it and who could help come alongside to help serve and see a Kingdom community minded effort between churches of different denominations and lift the name and banner of Jesus over the campus and lives of students,” Mark Parsley, Youth Pastor at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Cabot, said. “Josh has done a really great job connecting with schools in our county, so in Lonoke [County] we have Carlisle, England, and Lonoke in addition to Cabot. He’s really focused and capitalized on those districts and administrations to come to Cabot – since it was a centralized location and had the facilities to do this.”
Forty-five churches were represented that Wednesday night in some way Parsley said. Whether they brought games for students to play before, helped wrap and serve the food that had been donated, or just brought students to hear the Gospel.
“It really was a neat coming together, no one person or church was the entity or the main plug. There are many parts to the body of Christ, and we all have our individual role, but they all make the whole body move,” Parsley said. “It was truly a community effort for a Gospel advancement.”
Robert Upshaw was the speaker at Cabot’s Fields of Faith. Upshaw played football at Southern Arkansas University and coached at Baptist Prep. He has worked with Fellowship of Christian Athletes before, and now runs Upshaw Ministries with his wife, Leslie.
There were 102 first-time faith decisions that night. There were also 88 students who expressed interest in being baptized or rededicated their lives to Christ, and another 16 were considering a relationship and had more questions. In total, around 200 students made a decision of some kind that night.
The following day, fifteen youth pastors from various churches and denominations gathered back in Cabot to go through the decision cards and begin follow-up. Parsley reported his own church would be baptizing two students soon. Adair reported one church said they’d be baptizing eight students in the coming weeks – all because of one event.
“I think my favorite thing to come out of Fields of Faith was the community initiative – it was so refreshing and so encouraging to see so many churches, regardless of denomination and doctrine, joining together to be a positive influence in a life-changing evening in the lives of young people,” Parsley said. “I think we set a really neat precedent too. I think there’s possibilities of growth to where it’s better and better in the future. Of course, God will bless and ordain those things but we’re confident that this is just the first step in accomplishing our goals as a community to influence and impact the school system.”
FCA was founded in 1954 by Eastern Oklahoma A&M basketball coach Don McClanen.
Fields of Faith began with an idea from Jeff Martin, FCA’s Executive Director of Campus Sport Ministry, who longed to help today’s generation of students face spiritual battles and temptations. He felt that God was telling him that the answer lay in the students themselves—that they had the power of the Spirit to point the way to Christ for their peers as well as their communities. This year marked the 17th year of this event.
This growing, interdenominational outreach event was held at more than 500 locations throughout the nation, as well as 106 countries around the world. Most Christian events are held by adult speakers or sponsors, but Fields of Faith is a student-to-student ministry, which means that the students themselves are meeting and organizing the whole event. Peers invite their own classmates and teammates to meet on their school’s athletic field to hear fellow students share their testimonies, challenge them to read the Bible, and share the Gospel.