Wednesday night lights: Students spend night praying, singing
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 15, 2010 at 5:15 a.m.
It wasn't a football game that drew nearly 600 students to Memorial Stadium in Victoria Wednesday night. Rather, it was the invitation to spend an evening among friends during Fellowship of Christian Athlete's national Fields of Faith event.
Fields of Faith, a peer-based evangelical Christian ministry that encourages students to share their testimony and challenges them to read the Bible, was observed in 40 states, on more than 400 fields, and drew an estimated 35,000 students nationwide. Memorial Stadium was one of 75 Texas fields that hosted the event.
Packed tightly in the stadium bleachers, students from Victoria East High School, Victoria West High School, as well as Faith Family Academy, University of Houston-Victoria and Victoria College, excitedly danced and sang along to contemporary Christian worship music played by Parkway Church and Faith Family Church's E3 youth worship band.
"There's a name greater than East, there's a name greater than West, there's a name greater than Calhoun and Victoria, and that name is the name of Jesus," Parkway Church Youth Minister Stephen Gonzales said to the cheering crowd. "This is the start of something great."
Gonzales encouraged the students to imagine their relationship with Christ as a spark that could potentially start a large fire for God if they remembered to fan their flame.
"We are all that spark, we are all that ember," Gonzales said. "We start the spark, but sometimes we forget to fan the flame."
Gonzales was one of several speakers to share a Christian message with the students Wednesday night. Faith Family Church's youth pastor Josh Joines, and Northside Baptist Church's youth pastor Mike Baker, as well as the event's coordinator, high school head basketball coach John Grammer were among a few of the speakers to address the energized crowd.
"This is amazing to see," Grammer said looking around at the crowd that reportedly increased six-fold over the previous year. "We've had a steady increase of people since we started in 2008, but last year we had a little over 100 students. This is a big jump."
From 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the students were steadily entertained with music, prayer, even dramatic skits performed by students from area churches.
Joines closed the service with an alter call, asking students to quietly raise their hands if they were ready to accept Jesus Christ as their savior, or willing to rededicate their life to God. About 100 students raised their hands.
"It was a special moment when I saw those kids lift their hands during the alter call," Andrew Sauceda, 16, said. "You don't see that every day."
At the close of the night, students gathered on the football field, divided in small groups and prayed for one another.
"It's been a lot of fun, and this night brought me closer to God," Ashley Tyau, 17, said. "It just shows me that I need to be that fire and keep living for the Lord and don't conform to the way of the world."