In 2004, more than 6,000 students filled 23 different athletic fields across Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas to pray, worship, share testimonies and receive a Gospel message. More than 100 students decided to give their life to Christ as a result of those events.
The concept became a nationwide movement, known as Fields of Faith and sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Now in its 20th year, the 2023 events will take place on Wednesday as nearly 100,000 students, coaches, parents and community members are expected to fill athletic fields across the country to worship and challenge each other spiritually.
Fields of Faith founder Jeff Martin, now FCA’s executive vice president of strategic partnerships, says the event’s growth can be attributed to its purpose: one day, one message, one stand.
“Fields of Faith was created to spark a spiritual movement for God, to encourage students to stand together against the pressures and temptations in our world and be a generation that is committed to reading the Bible and applying it to their lives,” Martin said in a press release. “One of the reasons this has continued for so long is that we haven’t changed it.”
Fields of Faith 2022 showed off this year! If you attended a field, we’d love to see and hear about your experience. How did God move in your heart? How did he impact your community? Be sure and tag us and use #FOF2022! pic.twitter.com/EmPF2ecPF2
— Fields of Faith (@fieldsoffaith) October 14, 2022
Many school-based FCA chapters host huddles — smaller student-led gatherings on individual campuses — on a regular basis, but Fields of Faith is much bigger. Students, coaches and others from various schools and communities gather in a central location in their area to make one large event happen.
Fields of Faith events are mostly student-led, with some featuring local athletes and pastors as speakers. At these annual events, young student-athletes gather to recenter their focus on God’s Word through worship and personal testimonies. Each year, thousands have experienced the Gospel on their familiar home fields.
Martin was serving as the Southwestern Oklahoma area FCA director in 2002 when he first dreamed up the event. He read 2 Chronicles 34, which tells the story of the influential teenage ruler, King Josiah, and how he gathered his people and challenged them to read God’s Word as a way to change their culture.
In 2002, Martin had a vision for a student outreach based on FCA’s playbook, which included using the platform of sports to reach coaches and athletes for Christ. Athletics also provided Martin an apt metaphor for addressing some pressing issues affecting students.
“I was frustrated by looking at the moral digression in our country,” Martin said. “I couldn’t help but think about my three kids who were about to become teenagers. Everywhere my wife and I went, we were, as parents, always on the defense against the culture and the media. And anyone who knows anything about sports knows that if you’re always on defense, you’re not going to win. At some point you have to go on offense.”
That dream ultimately came to fruition in 2004 in the form of Fields of Faith, and since then more than 1 million people have attended the various events, with thousands accepting Christ into their lives, Martin said.
“Seeing the exponential growth and spiritual impact worldwide is incredible evidence of the Lord’s power and sovereignty,” he said. “He leads us to deepen our relationship with Him, talk to Him daily and get into His Word on a regular basis.”
FCA’s theme for 2023 is “Greater,” based on John 3:30: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” One major focus is for athletes to understand their identity and value is in Christ rather than their sport.
To find a local Fields of Faith, visit FieldsOfFaith.com for a list of events by state.
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