By Madeline Cade, Contributing Writer
Photo credits: featured image- Eddie Sutton, first photo- Madeline Cade, second photo- Ashlynn Grant
Hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), McKendree University’s first-ever Fields of Faith took place on Oct. 17, 2019. The students of FCA led around 100 people through a night of worship and prayer. This was the product of weeks of planning. So many things had to be prepared in order for the night to go smoothly: a speaker and a band had to be booked, students had to feel ready to give their testimonies, the field had to be available, the gym had to be ready in case we needed a backup space or place for bad weather, and there had to be plenty of advertising to make sure there was strong attendance.
The planning stage was a long process with many different parts that had to fall perfectly into place. First, Caleb Shipley, the President of FCA, began discussing the idea with Reverend Tim Harrison. They reserved the field early to ensure that there weren’t any conflicting events. They then contacted Marc Sikma, McKendree alumna and pastor at Matthias’ Lot in St. Charles, and asked him to give a short message that night. FCA was lucky enough to be able to partner with the First Baptist Church of O’Fallon to bring a wonderful worship team for the night’s music. A few FCA students then stepped up and volunteered to give their testimonies and do introductions. Programs and lyric sheets were printed out to be given to every attendee upon entering the field. One of the biggest parts of planning the event was the promotion. Purple and black FCA flyers were spotted all over campus weeks before the event. As members, we posted about it on our social media as well as invited our friends and teammates. Everyone was welcome. You didn’t have to be a student, an athlete, or a Christian–all were invited.
On the day of the event, the band showed up around 5:30 p.m. to set up their equipment on the track. FCA members began trickling in to help with anything they could. At 6:30 p.m., everyone else began showing up and finding their seats on the bleachers. We ended up having around 100 people in attendance. There wasn’t an expected number, but the group was excited to see so many in attendance. I think that it was bigger than anyone thought.
At 7 p.m., the service began. On a night that became chillier than expected, Wes Werner gave a very warm welcome to the crowd. The contemporary band from FBC of O’Fallon then asked everyone to join them for a few songs. We sang “Another in the Fire,” “No Longer Slaves,” and “What a Beautiful Name.” Those emotional songs were perfect for the night. When we were finished singing, three students gave their testimonies.
Kayla Gerber and Chris Durbin gave their testimonies in an interview style with Brad Lewis. Brad is the Youth and Family Minister at O’Fallon First United Methodist Church as well as a McKendree alumna. Kayla and Chris answered questions about how they came to Christ and how their lives were changed after accepting Him. They discussed how much He has impacted their lives in so many amazing ways. After they were finished, I went up and gave my testimony. I talked about how I grew up in church and had always thought I had a boring testimony. I told those who were like me that they shouldn’t be ashamed of their story–that it was biblical and valid.
When all the testimonies were finished, we all sang one more song– “Holy Spirit”–which had most of us in tears. Finally, Marc Sikma went up and gave an incredibly touching message. He discussed the fact that we are never alone. No matter what, we have God with us. The devil will attempt to knock us down, but God is there dusting us off and picking us back up. As young Christians in college, we understand that there is an attack on our faith, and we realized that it’s up to us to be able to spark a revival on this campus. When Marc was finished speaking, Eli Oltean gave the instructions for how we’d do the ending prayer. Myself, Kayla, Caleb, Wes, and Erin Haff–another FCA member–volunteered to be prayer leaders for the night. We then spread out onto the football field. Everyone in attendance came out to one of us and formed small groups. The prayer leaders began the prayer and anyone who wanted to could pray, but if you didn’t feel comfortable, you didn’t have to. It was an incredible sight–to see almost 100 people praying all over the field.
After the event was officially over, we stuck around to chat about everything. We were so overwhelmed by the emotions of the night. The fact that McKendree had just felt the presence of God was a concept that overjoyed us. The amount of students who were connected to God was something we never knew we’d see here. Our hearts were immediately on fire for the revival we feel coming on, and we are ready to see where God takes McKendree in the future.
Caleb says, “For those of you that didn’t get to experience Fields of Faith this year, we can’t wait to do it again next year so get ready! We would also like to invite any and all students to come out to our Fellowship of Christian Athletes gatherings on Tuesday nights at 8pm in the ALC! You don’t have to be an athlete! We just want to share the Gospel with you!”