I love history. I love it so much that I stayed up late last night just reading about the history of the interstate system. I love that kind of history, but I also love to look back at my own history. I keep a list in my phone of significant dates from the last six years. I like to look back on a specific date when something happened. I can tell you the day that I met my wife, the day I bought my current car, even the day that I “found” my dog, Jules.
For the last seven years, I have been serving in ministry, mostly as a youth pastor. In my conversations with people, and in many sermons, I’ve referenced May 12, 2009 as the day when God spoke loud and clear about my calling. So today, I wanted to share this story again.
During my senior year of high school, I served the student body as FCA President. What it basically meant was that I prepared and shared devotions with the FCA every week during the school year.
As the spring semester of my senior year began, I started feeling this undeniable sense that we (FCA) should do something big. Meeting weekly was great, but what can you really do in 15-20 scattered minutes? So I started researching an event called Fields of Faith. In a nutshell, Fields of Faith was an event that local FCA groups would hold in their football or basketball stadium, where the entire school and community would come together for a student-led service.
I thought this was great, but I was nervous and doubted that it could even happen. After talking it over with my friends and the adults who helped lead FCA, we decided to take a chance on Fields of Faith.
After talking with different leaders about what our Fields of Faith event would look like, I had to take our proposal to our principal. Now, to a 17 year old senior in high school, talking to the principal was one of the most stressful and nerve-racking things that I could’ve done. But thankfully our principal was not a dictator.
So, we met and discussed everything that we wanted to do with this event. I told her that I felt strongly that this was what God wanted us to do. Thankfully, my principal was very kind and supportive of our idea. There were certainly logistic hoops to jump through like, “who’s going to pay for the extra utilities usage?”, or the whole, “this is a Christian event,” sort of thing. I was pretty confident that having Fields of Faith happen at our school was NOT going to happen. Yes. I was still doubtful.
I had to wait awhile while she, the district, and the school discussed this event. I remember the day that I was called to go meet with her. We talked for a few minutes outside of the library, and she told me that the district and the school approved the event! When she told me this I’m sure there were tears in my eyes as I hugged her and thanked her. She was quite impressed that we (17-18 year olds) wanted to do something like this to make a positive impact. Fields of Faith was on.
Over the next few months, my friends and I planned everything out. That’s the boring part, so I won’t discuss that.
We were all just weeks away from graduation, and there was obvious stress starting to settle in, especially with me. In the months between the event being approved and actually happening, life started rapidly changing, and my grades started to plummet.
Of course, the life of a senior in high school is much different from the life of a well-established adult. If anything changes, it’s a huge change in our eyes, and if anything bad happens, it’s the end of the world as we know it. Looking back, I realize that everything that was happening around me was being used against me to try to make me give up. If you would’ve tried to tell me that everything would be better in just a few months, I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, I didn’t believe anyone who told me that.
There was a point where I was getting to school late and leaving early. I was trying to distance myself from everything that wasn’t going well. I was emotionally shutting down. I had started seeing a therapist to try to talk through my problems and stresses. After our first meeting, she prescribed me an anti-depressant, which didn’t work. In fact, it made things worse.
I guess my body was tired of being physically, mentally, and emotionally tired.
Apparently a few of my teachers knew some of the things that I was going through personally, but they didn’t just tell me to suck it up and get in the books. Instead, these teachers really helped me get through these things personally, while pushing me to pick up the slack in class. These teachers would not give up on me.
Thanks to those teachers, my friends, and my family for really lifting me up during those last few months of school. Without them, I wouldn’t have graduated, and Fields of Faith wouldn’t have happened.
So, along with my friends and adult leaders, we pushed through the next few weeks finalizing Fields of Faith.
May 12, 2009. Members of the faculty, students, and families from the community started to pile into the stadium. Over 100 people were in attendance that night.
The service began with a local youth worship band leading worship, followed by a few testimonies. Amy and Darrell share their testimonies, and then I walked up to the stage to share mine. I blended my testimony with a message about Christ and salvation.
(Side note: the few cameras that were recording video actually stopped recording around this time due to battery death and no more recording room. There is no known video evidence that what happened next actually happened. But, you can trust me!)
To this day, I sincerely cannot remember what I said that night outside of my testimony. Along with the video issues, all of my notes were lost soon after the event. But what happened was nothing short of a miracle.
I walked off the stage and one of the local youth pastors who had been helping me all year, came up to give the prayer of invitation. I remember sitting on the field facing the stage when he began to pray. I closed my eyes and prayed something…and then I started to hear footsteps.
Seven years from the day and I can still hear those footsteps.
Kids of different ages walked all the way to the 50 yard line of the football field to give their lives to Christ. I stood up to see the people coming down and I met each of them with a hug. I knew some of them, others were total strangers. Some of our leaders helped pray them through, and afterwards we shared a big group hug. 20 kids of different ages had a life changing experience that night
That moment in time is permanently etched in my memory. When I heard those footsteps, it was like God was telling me that this was his plan for me all along. Like many high school seniors, I’d struggled with really knowing what it was that I wanted to do with my life. That night, God made it clear that I was going to be a pastor. In fact, that ministry began just over two weeks after that night, when I began serving as a worship leader.
In the years since that night, God has done incredible things in my life. I can’t even begin to speculate on how different things would be had it not been for that event. I may never know the impact this event made on those who were there. I know now that the one of the reasons why God wanted us to do the event was because he wanted me to hear him calling me to ministry.
This is the story of how God took just an average teenager with problems, and did something amazing.