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People form a circle on the football field at Exeter High School. (Courtesy)

Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry expands in NH


EXETER — Nearly 200 people gathered at the Exeter High School football field for Fields of Faith on May 20, when students came together for end-of-year testimonials.

The event, which was spearheaded by students involved in Exeter’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes' “huddle,” was the first of its kind in New Hampshire.

Attending were students from Exeter, Bedford, Campbell and Winnacunnet high schools, Portsmouth Christian Academy and local churches.

Steve White, youth pastor at Hampton Falls First Baptist, shared a message about the difficulties that high school kids face and how to stay on track when pulled in different directions.

He was followed by Phil Tuttle, FCA’s southern New Hampshire area representative who spoke about FCA’s mission and described “huddles,” in which students and coaches participate in Bible study and prayer time weekly.

Several students shared what it has meant to be part of this huddle, how it’s changed their lives and molded them into being better individuals.

More than $400 was raised from a love offering that will be given to Operation Blessing, a Christian ministry that serves needy families in southwestern New Hampshire.

Mike Vining, FCA’s New Hampshire state director, credits graduating senior Aidan Conant for bringing Fields of Faith to New Hampshire, and seeing it through. Conant, who has been involved with the FCA huddle at Exeter since his sophomore year, researched Fields of Faith events and noted that while it had taken place in 39 states, there had never been one in New Hampshire.

“Three years ago, when I became involved with the FCA huddle, the officers and I began to think about hosting one. And now that it was my senior year, the timing was right. While it was my goal to make it happen here, nothing could have happened without God,” Conant said.

Conant’s planning team included other FCA officers: Jonathan Lindsey, Bryanna VanSant and Colleen White.

He explained how they create a “succession plan” in their huddle so the young leaders can learn the ropes, and when seniors leave, there are underclassman to take over.

During their planning, the team experienced setbacks, but according to Conant, “We prayed hard that God would take care of Fields of Faith and for us not to be in the picture — and that’s what happened. He brought just the right worship band, speakers and even intervened when there was a potential scheduling conflict with a team needing the field during our event’s set time. It all came together just how God wanted it to be.

“The event was amazing. It’s hard for me to put the thoughts I have about it into words. After three years of waiting for it to happen — with almost 200 students — it couldn’t have gone any better. Next year’s leaders can have this legacy for how to keep it going in future years,” Conant said.

A bonus to the evening included the annual Seacoast Track Meet taking place on Exeter’s track behind the football stadium.

“As track team members from all over the state were heading to their buses following the meet, some of those kids, out of curiosity, actually joined our participants on the bleachers before boarding their buses,” Vining said.

For Vining, who was able to make numerous connections that evening with people who are interested in FCA’s ministry, the event’s impact will be far-reaching.

“God is working. We could feel His presence and because of this event we are beginning to touch other lives, from the track team members who stopped on their way to their buses, to those who stopped afterwards and asked to know more. These people see how FCA’s ministry can benefit their schools. Everything we had hoped for and prayed for was realized, and I am so proud of the core group of students who worked hard to make this happen.

“There was a lot that had to happen to make Fields of Faith come to fruition, particularly on a public school campus. Here in New Hampshire, to praise God at a football field in a public school district is not commonplace. Exeter let us have the field and provided the sound system. It was encouraging to see everyone walk out onto the field as we did a closing prayer and asked God to watch over our huddles in New Hampshire, in our country and in our world. It was a beautiful night. May this pave the way for many more Fields of Faith here in New Hampshire as we grow FCA’s ministry,” Vining said.

Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ.

FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ.