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Gathering on the Grid Iron for Christ

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

Last Sunday at 6 o’clock in the evening, several hundred students, many of whom came with their parents, attended the Fields of Faith event at Pulaski County HIgh School’s Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium.

Fields of Faith is a student led event where students invite, pray for, share with and challenge their peers to read the Bible and follow Jesus Christ. These Fields of Faith events usually occur at athletic fields, such as was the case last Sunday.

Fields of Faith came into being in 2004 when the area director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes of Oklahoma, Jeff Martin, felt the need to form this organization. Since then, hundreds of thousands of students have attended these events.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes brought Fields of Faith to PCHS four years ago under the leadership of Mitch Reed, FCA’s area Director for the New River Valley. Derek Burton was teaching Criminal Justice at the PCHS at the time and became involved in the Fields of Faith event.

“We had our first Fields of Faith Event as an end of school celebration and there wasn’t but about 35 people that came to it,” Burton explained. “Amy Lambert spoke and gave an awesome testimony but I was really discouraged about the attendance. The next year rolled around and I decided that I’m not going to do it. I was discouraged but then Mitch Reed came to me and said, ‘Let’s do Fields of Faith’. I told him ‘no’. Then God kept working on me and finally I said, ‘All right, let’s do this.”

Since then, the Fields of Faith event has grown in popularity. “The first one we had  in the stadium and we had over 400 come and 70 some young people come to the field to rededicate their life to Jesus Christ,” Burton enthused. “The next year, we had it over at the gymnasium due to rain and we had over 550 in attendance.”

Recently Derek Burton left his job at the high school to become a full time chaplain for New Century Hospice in Wytheville. Burton asked PCHS history teacher Brady Deal to take charge over this year’s gathering. Deal accepted the challenge.

“t’s been great man,” exclaimed Deal. “Last year I ended up helping Derek out . After he left, I took over as the full time sponsor and it has just been a blessing. The Lord has done a mighty work in my life and in students lives at the school. To have been a witness to that is probably one of the best things to ever happen in my life.”

Last Sunday saw several hundred students once again gather on the football field to show their dedication to Christ. PCHS student Ashlyn Kirtner led the student worship service which was preceded and followed with much music. Reid Monaghan from Power of Change ministries was the inspirational speaker for the evening.

At 7:30, students and parents gathered around the football field to pray and so ended this year’s Fields of Faith event…until next year.

“It’s been a joy to me to watch how this ministry is grown from when I took over to what they’ve done to bring it where it is tonight,” said Burton. “To see how lives are being changed and the movement that is taking place not only at Pulaski County school system but in all New River Valley School systems through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I see it on Facebook all the time…huddles and morning meetings and Bible Studies and they’re packed. God’s doing something great in our schools and I’m just glad I got to be a part in it.”

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