The prayer line was unlike any I had ever been apart of.
Guest speaker Arthur Hawkins had just finished an emotionally-charged message and invited the young people to come forward — those who wanted to either recommit or dedicate their lives to Christ. Dozens of students lined up on the front row when ‘Hawk’ asked the adults – teachers, coaches and parents – to line up behind them.
I don’t know how long his prayer lasted, probably just minutes, but it seemed like we were lifted outside of time as you could feel the Spirit move and flow as the students stood arm and arm with the adults laying hands from behind. When he ended, I saw multitudes of grown people moved to tears. A Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle sponsor was embracing her student captain (both sobbing) as the student said “Thank you for believing in me.”
I would describe myself as a guy who typically doesn’t get caught up in the emotion of church. My wife is somebody who sobs when people get baptized and is the first to leap out of her seat, hands raised in the air when Spirit-filled, praise & worship hits her heart by way of her ears. Me, I’m more a back row Baptist, content to sit on his hands.
But as I sit here with the clock approaching midnight, I can’t shut it down for the night without sharing all of what I saw earlier this evening.
A church commit their time, money and their resources in cooking a 1,000 hot dogs, while providing bags of chips and bottles of water to serve kids.
A guest speaker (who grew up in the Jim Crow South with a mother who neglected him and a father he didn’t know) move the crowd by telling us what it was like to find love through Jesus. All the while, directly in front of him sat a young man, also without a father, locked in on the speaker with laser focus.
Twelve wonderful students who volunteered to read scripture and give testimony, including:
A football player – that lost an uncle to an undiagnosed heart condition and later lost a teammate, who lined up right next to him on the offensive line, also to an undiagnosed heart condition – talk about how he learned to give God glory in ALL things.
A cheerleader learning how to trust God in all things despite coming to the realization in middle school that her dad is an alcoholic and not knowing at this point whether or not he’ll be alive to see her graduate.
A basketball player now standing on his faith who had lost his focus and was once shackled with an ankle bracelet, staring at six months in Juvenile Detention before Jesus rescued him as He did Peter when Peter lost his focus.
A young scholar who denied Christianity because of science until his own exhaustive research led him to the conclusion that the Bible is the living Word.
An FCA huddle captain from an area with opportunities all around to be the hands and feet of Jesus in serving the homeless and downtrodden, talk about her calling to volunteer in shelters.
After the prayer line dispersed, we huddled up in groups of eight around the football field for a time of prayer for our schools. I’ve never seen a group of young people so moved. In my group, a girl with a Pink Floyd shirt asked me if she could pray and proceeded to sob uncontrollably in a vulnerable but beautiful way, as she bared her soul in front of her friends in asking God to help free her from so many snares that entangle teenagers.
As we shared in our huddles, a young man told me he wanted “to get saved” and I had the opportunity to lead him straight to Christ. I’ll follow up with him tomorrow.
For many, including this young man, Fields of Faith is just the beginning of a wonderful journey, one in which chains will hopefully be broken. I want to close this by briefly sharing a glimpse of why we do what we do at FCA in ministering to young people.
Among our speakers last night, were two young men who, although they sat only a few feet away, are from opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum. One young man had to be picked up and driven to the event. His mother never showed up and I’ve never heard him speak of his father. The other young man had his grandparents, parents, uncle and cousins in attendance.
What’s the difference between the two?
The second young man’s grandfather broke the chain of neglect and abuse brought on by the evils of alcohol. His dad was a neglectful, abusive alcoholic in the 1950s as was his grandfather in the 1920s. But as a teenager in the early 1960s, he gave his life to Jesus Christ and the fruits of that decision were on display in his family and grandson last night.
It is my prayer that in 50 years, the young man (with no family representing him last night) will be at an event with his wife, kids and grandkids to watch his grandson speak about giving God the glory in all things.