BENTON, Ark. – Students in Saline County and across the state have joined thousands of other youths in recent weeks on athletic fields across the nation to share their Christian faith with fellow students during Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ (FCA) Fields of Faith events.
Cason Maertens, FCA Saline County area representative, said the concept behind Fields of Faith is for these youths to come together in a neutral location, like a football field, and invite, pray for, share with and challenge their peers to read the Bible and follow Jesus Christ. He said the event is completely student led.
In Saline County, Fields of Faith events were held at athletic fields in Benton, Bryant, Bauxite, Harmony Grove as well as Sheridan in Grant County. Three to four youth pastors were on hand to assist at each location of the interdenominational event.
Maertens said Fields of Faith is a great way to get some of the local youth pastors and Bible believing churches to come together and serve in one atmosphere.
“I love that. I love bringing the local churches together to serve and love one another and just be in fellowship and community with each other,” he said.
Combined attendance of the Fields of Faith events in Saline County totaled more than 2,300 students and adults and multiple decisions of faith were made. In Benton, where about 800 people gathered, Maertens said there were 29 first-time decisions and 42 decisions to either rededicate or to grow in faith.
Brenton Butcher, junior high/senior high pastor at First Baptist Church in Benton, said the night is a huge win not only for the church but for all the students and student believers in the county.
“It is a time for all of our ministries to come together on our respective field campuses and just lift up the name of Jesus,” Butcher said.
“We make it imperative we don’t throw our church name out there. We’re not here to represent ourselves. This is for us to come together across denominations, across different church backgrounds, to worship together and to hear impactful, powerful testimonies from some of our student leaders on campus.”
He called the event phenomenal, touting the students using their talents to make it happen. Butcher said Fields of Faith gives students a voice and emboldens them to share the message of Jesus and how He has changed their lives and share that with the whole school.
Butcher said his hope is that student ministries across the state would see the impact of how coming together in unity for such a simple event, like Fields of Faith, benefits the health of all the churches.
“It’s not about lifting our own name up. It’s about lifting the name of Jesus and letting students lead in that. It is just so incredibly healthy. Even if FCA decided we can’t do this next year, I know that student pastors would come together and do something identical. It’s just a special thing for us,” Butcher said.
Maertens said a goal is to have another event in the spring that brings everybody together under one roof from across the county.
The Fields of Faith events in Saline County were just a few of several that have taken place around the state this fall.
The idea for Fields of Faith was started in 2002 by Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes Area Director Jeff Martin. According to the Fields of Faith website, Martin “prayed about what to do with his heartfelt frustration regarding the temptations and spiritual battles facing our more ‘spectator generation’ youth. God led him 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.”
In 2004, the dream became a reality when more than 6,000 students gathered on school athletic fields throughout Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas for Fields of Faith. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have attended Fields of Faith and thousands have accepted Christ.