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A night of encouragement

FCA’s Fields of Faith event in Johnson County (KS) brings Christ’s light to local area.

Published on October 13, 2017

Nate Taylor
FCA staff writer

Coleman Barnes approached the microphone in an unusual setting.

In front of Barnes was a large group of people, most of whom were high school students. With the sunset already completed, the crowd in attendance for FCA’s annual Fields of Faith event in Overland Park, Kan., had difficulty seeing Barnes from 20 feet away. As the event’s first speaker, Barnes began his speech as the evening grew darker Wednesday because it took longer than usual for the lights in Blue Valley’s district football stadium to be turned on.

In preparing his testimony, Barnes prayed to God to give him the correct words. He studied which Bible verses to use. He wrote down notes. But with more than a 1,000 people watching him in almost darkness, Barnes remembered what God called Christians to do: Be a light to the world.

For 10 minutes, Barnes, an 18-year-old senior at Blue Valley West High, let his testimony shine.

“In reality, we’re all broken,” he said to the crowd. “We all have struggles, we all have things we’re going through. What I’ve come to realize the last couple of years is that’s the part of the story that God turns brokenness into something beautiful. God sees your brokenness and yet He still loves you and He still invites you to be made new in Him.”

Barnes explained how he grew closer to God the previous three years. It began with a mission trip to Jamaica. Barnes, as part of a group, visited an infirmary. He shared the Gospel by reading the Bible to patients and was affected by how much joy it brought them.
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A six-member band of high school students led the crowd in several worship songs.

As the Huddle Leader at Blue Valley West, Barnes also told the crowd how being a member of FCA’s Bible study helped him understand what it means to be a Christian by honoring God in all he does — not just in church or during a mission trip. He encouraged his fellow students to remove their façades since God’s loving approval of them is all they need.

Barnes ended his testimony by praying for the crowd. The stadium’s lights had yet to be turned on.

“It was definitely something different, which took my mind maybe off speaking in front of hundreds of people,” Barnes said. “The one moment that I realized it was when I was going to actually look down at my notes and I realized I couldn’t see anything. But it just meant that God was in control and He was just speaking through me. I just gave it up to Him.”

Since 2004, FCA has used Fields of Faith to be a student-led ministry event. For a night in October, teenagers — whether they are athletes or not — invite one another to share their faith and to challenge each other to apply the Bible to their lives. Most events occur on an athletic field or gym at a school to provide a safe environment where anyone can attend.

Wednesday's event, hosted by Johnson County's FCA, allowed students from 40 different schools — from areas such as Blue Valley, Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Leawood and Grain Valley, Mo. — to come together to praise and worship God. Eight students made first-time faith commitments to Jesus Christ and 39 students recommitted their lives to Christ by rededicating themselves to read the Bible.

Hudson Welty, the keynote speaker, was impressed with how Barnes began the event’s testimonies in such a positive and powerful way.

“It just shows what God is doing in his life,” Welty said of Barnes. “He doesn’t need his notes to speak what God is doing in his life and he was just real. I think that’s what people want today, just being real with one another. That was well done.”

The stadium’s lights began to brighten when Courtney Hafner began her faith story.

A 16-year-old sophomore at Blue Valley Southwest High, Hafner discussed how being involved with her Huddle transformed her life and others. She joined FCA in sixth grade and soon began witnessing to a friend. As friends from Stillwell Elementary, Hafner invited her friend to her Huddle every Wednesday and the two began attending church together. Hafner told the crowd how her friend, who attends a different high school, became a Christian two years ago.

“Fields of Faith has been a really big part of my testimony because this is where my friend accepted Jesus Christ,” said Hafner, who participates in the color guard at her school. “This a big part of who I am and it always impacts me. There’s always someone that I seem to be able to help and I think sharing my testimony was a big step in my faith of pushing myself outside the boundaries.”

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Six high school students celebrate with a photo after arriving at the event.
Throughout the night, a six-member band of high school students led the crowd in worship songs. During the song, “King of My Heart,” a group of students in the stands put their hands on each other’s shoulders and swayed back and forth together as they sang. 

Welty, a senior and the Huddle Leader at MidAmerica Nazarene University, invited non-Christians in the crowd to accept Jesus Christ as their savior. An avid outdoorsman, Welty, 22, explained how life is similar to climbing a mountain — and how it’s far more rewarding to climb it if you let Jesus Christ lead and guide you along the path to the top.

After Welty’s message, several students left their seats. They walked onto the field to pray to accept Christ. One student was a middle school boy who was led in prayer by Isaiah Euler, a 17-year-old senior and cross-country runner at Blue Valley High.

“He said that if he died tomorrow he’s believes he would be going to heaven,” Euler said of the boy. “We talked about how it’s important to read our Bible because it’s God’s Holy Word that He’s given us.”

Wednesday’s crowd was the largest Welty had ever spoken to about his faith.

Once the event ended, Welty reflected on his emotions. He watched hundreds of people on the field talking and enjoying each one another in fellowship. He smiled.

“I just had a feeling of peace,” said Welty, a forward on MidAmerica Nazarene’s basketball team. “Yeah, I was a little bit nervous, but God just placed on my heart that He’s with me. Talking in front of people is nerve-racking, but it was good. It’s cool to know that God is using me to speak into someone else’s life. He doesn’t need me and he decided to use me. It was humbling, man, humbling.”


To learn more about FCA’s Fields of Faith, visit fieldsoffaith.com.

Photos courtesy of Casi Jackson and Michael Hodges.