McKinsey Burdette was not nervous Wednesday night as she stood on the track in front of more than 100 teenagers and parents.
The 16-year-old Grovetown High School junior told of her struggles with anxiety and insecurity, and of wondering whether anyone would care if she were gone.
She began to cry as she said, “Everything changed when I came to know Christ.”
McKinsey was one of three students and a coach who offered personal testimony during Fields of Faith, which was held by Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Grovetown High School.
“It’s a real simple setting,” said Rebecca Whitley, an event organizer and the FCA sponsor at the school. “The goal of this is just to really get kids into the Word of God,” she said.
Across the country, 75,000 people attended a Fields of Faith event at 471 schools at the same time. Twenty-five schools in Georgia held events, but the closest one to Grovetown was at South Aiken High School, said FCA area director Greg Wilson.
“It’s really rooted in simplicity,” he said. “It’s very stripped down.”
Before the event, McKinsey said it was the first time she had spoken about something so personal in front of a large crowd.
She said she wasn’t nervous about giving her testimony or worried about what people thought of her, but she was nervous about how people would react.
“People think we have it together, but we really don’t,” she said. “People see Christians as put together and that we don’t mess up, but we mess up a lot. It’s hard for others to see you as that. I’m just as, if not more, bad off as you are. I mess up just as much.”
Cheerleading coach and Grove-town High School math teacher Kelly McWhorter told of growing up in church but wandering off course when she went away to college at the University of Georgia.
“I spent my first year of college cheering for the Bulldogs,” she said. “After that first year, I made the mistake of thinking that I wanted to be ‘normal.’ I didn’t want to be a student athlete anymore.
“I was tired of all the early mornings and not getting to live that life I thought was the ‘normal’ college life.”
She said after 4½ years and many poor choices, she returned home to Lincolnton, Ga., with an abysmal GPA and no degree. She earned her undergraduate degree at Augusta State University but felt something was still missing.
“This past January, I realized that what I was trying to do was I was trying to get my life back on track by myself,” she said.
That’s the point at which she surrendered to God.
Her story made an impression on 14-year-old Ashley DiLorenzo.
“It was very touching,” she said.
After the testimonies, all of the students broke into smaller groups for discussion and prayer. The evening ended with everyone joining hands in a large circle in the middle of the football field for a final prayer.
Carolyn Stakely, 17, attended with the youth group from Redeemer Church and said she found the event inspiring.
She was impressed by students like herself who were willing to talk freely about their conversion to Christ.
“That’s really not an easy thing to do,” she said.