According to www.fieldsoffaith.com, “Students invite their own classmates and teammates to hear fellow students share their testimonies, be challenged to read the word of God and follow Jesus Christ. An athletic field provides a neutral, interdenominational rally point where a community can come together.”
Its third year in Bartow, the community event has spread to both Adairsville and Cartersville, with last year’s event being held in the Cartersville High School Storm Center gymnasium due to inclement weather. The event featured FCA members from all county high schools as well as Cartersville High and Rockmart High School.
“Shannon Boatfield, the [Fellowship of Christian Athletes] director for Bartow and Polk County, had decided to move the event from school to school and, of course, we’d love to host it,” said Cass Middle and High Schools’ FCA faculty sponsor Danny Fairbanks. “It’s been a great event throughout the years and it was a great opportunity for Cass High to step up and show our excitement.”
While events like FCA meetings, See You at the Pole and Fields of Faith are not school-sponsored and operate outside of normal school hours, Fairbanks said such events play an integral role in the daily lives of students.
“The students here at Cass High really have wanted to be a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” Fairbanks said. “We’ve had some great [students] who have stepped up to take leadership roles [and students] want an outlet to be able to show their faith to other students, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes gives them an outlet to do that.
“It also brings like-minded students together and gives them the ability to share what’s going on in their lives and how Jesus Christ has impacted [their lives]. It’s just been a tremendous asset for the kids at Cass High School.”
Mikayla Newman, a junior at CHS, serves as the school’s FCA captain and said she had been called by God to take a leading role with the organization.
“First it just started by me going to different youth groups and deciding I couldn’t be silent anymore,” Newman said. “I just had a passion for telling who I am and expressing God’s love for me and the love that he has for everyone.”
Tony Bradway, a CHS senior and an FCA council member, reiterated Fairbanks’ statements that events like Fields of Faith are important for students whose religious faith steers their school and social life.
“Not only are rights being taken away — we can’t really talk about the Bible in school and that sort of thing — but, kids in general, you don’t really want to talk to your friends about [faith] because you don’t know if they feel the same way and you don’t want to feel embarrassed or anything like that, so I think that these events help you feel like you belong and you can just come together and not feel awkward or weird,” Bradway said.
The event featured music from the worship team at Journey Church as well as a performance by Revamp Drama of Christian Fellowship Church. Students also gave testimonials.
“I went through so many years all through middle school and some high school thinking I was ‘a good little Christian boy,’ I did the right thing, I never said any bad words, I did all these good things and it took me some time to realize thinking doing all these good things makes you a Christian is like putting a Band-Aid over a gunshot wound,” Woodland High School sophomore Mark Brand said. “It looks good with the lights off, but on the inside the damage is still done.”
He spoke about going to SPLASH Bartow when he was younger and feeling bored until the last night when he heard a moving story of the crucifixion told by Bartow Baptist Association Associational Missionary David Franklin.
“It was a story I had heard thousands and thousands of times and it never affected me like it did this one time ... and the details that were used in this story, I just felt something and felt God calling me, something just felt wrong in my heart and I started crying a little bit, then I felt this amazing, undescribable amount of love, mercy and forgiveness fall down on me all at once,” Brand said. “People who have been in that situation know there’s nothing else for you to do except fall on your knees and cry.
“... It wasn’t until I was approaching my freshman year and I thought of the peer pressure ... and I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to be able to do this’ and so I just got on my knees and asked God, ‘Please help me out with this, I want you by my side because there’s no way I’ll be able to do this myself ... it’s in my DNA to mess up.’”
Brand, along with other FCA leaders, were available to meet with other students after the event.
“If there’s one thing you go home and remember about what I’ve said is there’s so much more about having a relationship with Christ than going to church on Sunday and Wednesday night,” Brand said. “There’s so much more to have.”