Van Buren hosted the annual FCA Fields of Faith event at Citizens Bank Stadium at Blakemore Field on Oct. 9.
The event, which occurs on the second Wednesday of October each year, has continued to grow in both the size of attendees and volunteers.
“This event has a lot of moving parts,” said organizer and Van Buren High School tennis coach Brandy Mosby. “If it weren’t for the students’ desire to put this event on, it wouldn’t happen at all.
“One of the things I like most about the Fields of Faith event is that we all come together for one goal. Churches aren’t competing for membership, we are all working together as One. Everyone is a contributor. Our goal is to be there for these students spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.”
Van Buren and Alma have shared host duties for the event in Crawford County with about 900 to 1,000 people attending the last two years. The number of volunteers has grown from 50 to 100, with talk that they may need more next year.
“Our volunteers are incredible. An event of this magnitude couldn’t be pulled off with them,” Mosby said. “Every year I get so excited before, during, and after this event because it literally brings chills to my spine, tears of complete joy to my eyes, and a smile on my face that makes my cheeks hurt because of all the work that goes into this. The number of people, churches, and businesses who are willing to help have done it enough, people just know what to do. It’s is so impressive to see.”
This year’s featured speaker was Laura Gallier, public speaker and author The Delusion book series.
“I am so impressed with the close-knit community of Van Buren and its surrounding communities,” said Gallier. “The hospitality, volunteerism, and warmth among locals were truly heartwarming. Everyone joining together to host an unforgettable evening for students, and the outcome was remarkable.”
Gallier brought her own testimony of overcoming many obstacles in her life. She related her life story to the situations our students deal with today.
“She was such a dynamic speaker and is so real. She doesn’t hold back and isn’t afraid of using her failures to help others make better choices. She has a heart and her words are ‘God-breathed,’ said Mosby. “Laura doesn’t take on a lot of speaking engagements because she is picky with her time she spends away from her husband and two children at home so when she agreed to speak at our Fields of Faith, I knew it was going to be a special night.
“She inspired many of our students and even our adults in countless ways. I feel as though we won’t even know how much for many years to come.”
The churches and youth pastors work alongside volunteers from the schools to find a way to help the students.
“We have had anywhere between seven to nine school districts bring students to our event from Sallisaw, Alma, Cedarville, Mountainburg, Charleston, Ozark, Spiro, and Roland,” said Mosby. “We have had between 15 to 20 churches also involved in the past seven years. These youth pastors along with our counselors and parents work together in order to give these students the guidance they need and crave.”
Mosby mentioned the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” as to how the community comes together to give the students experience so they can grow in a safe and healthy environment.”
Churches participating in the event included Heritage Methodist, First Assembly VB, First Baptist VB, North Park VB, Kibler Baptist, Southside Baptist Alma, First Baptist Alma, Concord Baptist, Central Christian FS, Community Bible, 43rd Assembly of God VB, Current, Crosspointe VB, Momentum, and Butterfield Assembly of God.
“Every year we have more and more people who want to get on board and help in any way they can,” Mosby said. “Whether it is supplying water, food, cooking hot dogs, serving food to the students, supplying food for the volunteers, providing the stage and sound equipment, running errands, helping with security and supervision, to photography and drone footage, and counseling students who want to make decisions.
“Our football coaches are always good about working with us during the event. Spirit 106.3 is always so good to come out and play games with the kids while waiting for the event to begin, and hand out prizes. The kids from the Van Buren schools provide a lot of help in getting the word out, making posters and advertising on social media. They come to our meetings, help set up and clean up.”
The Fields of Faith began in 2002 from the efforts of Oklahoma FCA Area Director, Jeff Martin. The event grew to 23 events in three states with 6,000 people to 521 events in 2018 with over 198,000 participants.
The planning begins in March or April with meetings during the summer, and increases in frequency as the date grows closer.
“We discuss things we want to do for that year’s event,” Mosby said. “We never have the same line-up. We like to change it up. These meetings will have youth directors, teachers, coaches, parents, students, and community members.”