FCA invites students at Fields of Faith

By: Annebeth Ahrenholz

Hearts were opened and minds were shocked by the powerful, inspirational testimonies passed on the Cedar Falls home football field. It isn’t very often that faith is shared on school grounds, but Wednesday, Oct. 14, the annual Fields of Faith is an exception.

“It was a very good experience. I felt a strong connection to the stories told. It was eye opening,” sophomore Nick Brass said, and sophomore Parker Anderson agreed. “It was awesome hearing other people’s stories about how they found God,” he said.

Fields of Faith is an event put on by Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization that has a wide international reach that has been touching millions of lives since 1954. It challenges all coaches and athletes to use athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. The mission of FCA is to present to coaches and athletes the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church.

At this year’s Fields of Faith there was a group of eighth grade girls that spoke, including Teria Campbell, Jada Golden-Smith, Allie Grinstead, Maddi Johnson and Lydia Ochoa. Senior Denison Harrington also spoke. The final speaker was UNI athlete Chelsea Hartman.

Holmes Junior High PE teacher and FCA leader Corey Peters said he cares deeply about FCA and its mission. He believes that Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been impacting youth one heart at a time for over 50 years. “It is a great organization with the utmost integrity. They do a great job keeping it about Jesus while respecting and honoring all schools and churches,” Peters said.

Peters’ intentions come from his compassion for students. “I believe we are losing our teens’ hearts to depression, self-harm, suicide, neglect, abuse and apathy. I don’t believe the church is exempt. Many of our kids have grown up in church feeling the same way.”

Peters explained that he grew up with a great mom who had her share of struggles and a great step-dad. His biological father was a good guy but wasn’t a real good Dad. He didn’t come around much and struggled with substance abuse. Peters said that was difficult for him, and it’s a big reason why FCA means so much to him today.

Peters said he understands that not everyone agrees with what he believes, but he still strives to bring as many people in as possible.

“It is not my job to sell a product. Many people don’t believe in Him or who I say He is. Instead of an opportunity to yell or put them down, it is a great opportunity to love them honestly and in a way that would honor Jesus.  I love meeting many people who are atheists or follow another religion.  I believe that aspect of my faith needs to be told as much as the other. Yes, I believe Jesus is the way to God, but how do you convey that message. Through love.”

Peters has been a huddle leader at Holmes for seven years.

He said the goal is to introduce people to the Jesus he found in the Bible and have students listen to one another.

Harrington spoke at this year’s Fields of Faith. Harrington got involved with FCA as a seventh grader, through Peters.

“Since he started it, he has been pushing for me to get up there and speak. I get kind of nervous when I get up and talk in front of people, and I don’t feel comfortable talking about myself in that aspect. It doesn’t come easy,” Harrington said.

Harrington said he wasn’t fond of Peters at first but later opened up and discovered a lot about his faith through him.

“I felt like it was time to get my story out there. I feel like it can help a lot of people who go through some bad stuff in life who haven’t gotten over it. I can speak to them through my life story and tell them where I get my strength.”

Prior to speaking, Harrington was very nervous.

“I felt pretty good afterwards, but during it and before, I had some serious health issues,” Harrington said with a laugh. “I felt like I was going to faint and throw up and have a heart attack all at once. I am deathly afraid of crowds, but I am happy I shared with people what God wanted me to.”

Harrington said he woke up at 3 in the morning randomly to type his speech so he knew that was a sign it had to be heard.

“Was I excited? I wouldn’t say so, but then again helping someone coming out with knowing Jesus is pretty exciting,” he said.

Harrington’s peers appreciated all the enthusiasm.

“It’s cool to see so many junior high and high school athletes come together to learn about something that is so much greater than a sport we play. It’s awesome to witness hearts that have been changed by an almighty, loving and powerful God,” junior Nathan Hoy said.

Harrington agreed that FCA is a great way to find Jesus, but said that he grows in his faith a lot more through his small group at church and encourages students to get plugged into one. “My church small group, that means a lot because you just get to walk through faith with some help from friends and family, and you can ask questions,” Harrington said.

Peters and Harrington both have hopes that students took away from this evening.

“It is the faith in action piece that I believe is missing in the faith of many today. I believe we need to send people all over the world to share the gospel and speak life into hard hit areas across the globe, but we must not forget about our own communities,” Peters said.

He also said he hopes students know they are loved unconditionally wherever they come from and whatever they take from it. “I pray that they take steps to find out who Jesus is for themselves. I pray that they know that they have a heavenly Father that deeply loves them. I hope they encounter that when they encounter someone who says they believe in Jesus.”

After the event, Harrington said he wants “people to have hope. This world is kind of messed up. A lot of bad things happen to random people,” as he reached up to make quotes with his hands, “‘good people.’ People might not understand that there is something greater out there, so I want people to be able to see that through my story,” Harrington said.

At the end of the night, Harrington said, “I hope some came to know him tonight.”

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