Budding movement aims to connect young athletes with Christian faith
About 35 people gathered in the bleachers abutting Grand Junction High School’s football field on Sunday afternoon to participate in a local expression of a national Christian movement called Fields of Faith.
Fields of Faith was started 13 years ago by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), a nonprofit that aims to connect young athletes with the Christian faith, and has been taking place in Mesa County for the past three years.
According to Tina Snover, who directs the Western Slope’s FCA branch and who organized the event, Fields of Faith is intended as an opportunity for school-aged students to come together and share their faith and for adults to support the students and give them the stage.
“Let’s focus on the good these kids are doing, not the bad,” said Snover on Sunday before the event. “In this particular community, we need to find things to celebrate.”
Sunday’s event, attended by a seemingly even mix of the old and the young, included prayers by several members of the Grand Junction High School community and testimonials by teenagers either still in high school or freshly out about the impact their faith has had in their lives.
One alumna, Blythe Crow, shared how getting involved in Christianity in high school led her to go on a mission trip to Kenya, where she continues to travel every year to aid with the cessation of human trafficking.
Another alumna, Martha Schneider, shared a wrenching and revelatory story about her struggle with depression as a freshman at the University of Kansas, her battle with suicidal thoughts, and the support she found when she returned home to Grand Junction that saved her life.
After the event, Schneider said that she wasn’t involved with the FCA when she was in high school in Grand Junction. But she wanted to come and share her story, because she was impacted by the student suicides that have shaken the Grand Valley over the past few years.
“I’m tired of losing friends,” Schneider said. “I want people to know that if we talk about this, it’s something that can be beat.”
Another young person, who identified himself as A.J., also spoke about suicide. He is a sophomore at Grand Junction High School and a football and lacrosse player, and he said his faith helped him cope with a school friend’s suicide.
“Isolation is the number one reason, I think, kids make bad choices,” said Snover about the meaning of the event. She said one of the purposes of the FCA, the Fields of Faith — which she pointed out is interdenominational and all-inclusive — is to make youths feel valued.
“You have gifts, and you have skills God gave you, and we want to help you transfer those to the community,” said Snover.
Renae Love, a Grand Junction resident who helps Snover set up Fields of Faith events, said that she got involved for similar reasons.
“I see youth around the United States looking for something, and I see this fulfilling them,” she said. “I see growth.”
The event at the high school on Sunday was one of five events held across a month-long period in the Grand Valley. Fruita Monument High School held a similar event earlier Sunday afternoon, and there was a Fields of Faith event at Colorado Mesa University’s Alumnae Field on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 27.
Two more events around the valley are still upcoming in September.