Fields of Faith to feature professional softball player, student testimonies

Sunday, October 7, 2012
Former NFL offensive lineman Rich Garza speaks to students during the Fields of Faith event in October 2011 at Cape Girardeau Central High School. Area coaches and students gave talks at the event, which aimed to promote Christianity in high school and college students. (Southeast Missourian file)

By Aaron Picar

Southeast Missourian

Local students will combine a passion for athletics and their faith this week when Fields of Faith returns to Cape Girardeau County.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes will host the free event at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Jackson High School stadium. According to organizers, students can expect a time of worship, prayer and testimonials.

"Expect to see hundreds of kids hearing from their peers, sharing their faith and struggles, and see them become stronger in their faith in a more meaningful way," said event co-coordinator Bill Ray.

Fields of Faith is a peer-to-peer event where students invite friends to hear fellow students share their faith. Students and coaches from Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Southeast Missouri State University will speak, as will local youth pastors. The praise team from LaCroix United Methodist Church will lead worship.

Charity Butler, a former professional fast-pitch softball player, will be speaking. Butler is in the area this week on behalf of Sports World Ministries. In addition to speaking Wednesday, she'll also address students at area schools with a positive message.

Last year, about 1,100 students from different schools attended the first Fields of Faith locally. This year, organizers are expecting a larger turnout.

"Last year, I thought it was really cool the way that all the schools, churches and youth groups in the community came together and for one night dropped all of our group titles, and we came together as one group in Christ and praised together," said Emily Sheets, a senior at Cape Girardeau Central High School. Sheets said she is looking forward to hearing from her friends and other students this year.

Ann Cook, student ministries director at ConnectionPoint Church in Jackson, said she is excited to hear Jordan Jeffers speak about his faith and tell his friends about what God has done in his life. Jeffers is one of her students who made a profession of faith at last year's event.

"This isn't based on a big name band or athlete, but kids can take it from who they go to school with to show Christ is relevant," Cook said.

According to Ray, who also serves as area director of FCA huddles, the purpose of Fields of Faith is to introduce students to the message of Christ who would not normally attend church. The hope is that students will read the Bible and plug in to a local church. Ray said he hopes students will make a first time commitment to follow Jesus or make a stronger recommitment to live their faith.

Fields of Faith began in 2004 in Oklahoma and spread nationwide in 2006. According to Ray, more than 100,000 students will participate in similar events across the country.

Ray said he and other FCA leaders wanted to bring Fields of Faith to this area after seeing large turnouts in Poplar Bluff. In the past four years, attendance has grown from 1,000 to more than 2,500 students. Ray expects the same for this year.

"We want students to come away with encouragement and excitement about a better life that they can have in Jesus Christ," said Bob Nations of Sports World Ministries. "We're looking forward to a life changing experience for our youth."

For more information on Fields of Faith and FCA, contact Ray at 573-280-0932, bray@fca.org or www.fieldsoffaith.org.

More information on Sports World Ministries can be found at www.sportsworld.org.

apicar@semissourian.com

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