Youth Group Fasts for 15-Hours to Help End World Hunger
On Friday, May 6th, 13 Youth walked through the doors of John Wesley knowing they wouldn’t be eating for 15 hours. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty much a travesty for our Youth these days. With food being so readily available, we as a society have come accustomed to not really being hungry…but that was all about to change!
World Vision is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision’s programs and offices span more than 100 countries while serving all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. The initiative our Youth Group decided to participate in this year was the 30-Hour Famine. The Famine is structured differently each year. This year, through videos, the group learned about one boy’s life, Ekai from Kenya. We learned about Ekai’s home, how he gets clean water, where he goes for medical help, what school looks like for him and when and what he eats. The Youth Group got to walk in Ekai’s footsteps for a measly 15 hours, but trust me in saying, it was enough to make an impact on them. Below is the process in which the Youth became transformed.
We began the fast with an introductory video of Ekai. The Youth were asked four specific questions about what they observed and/or perceived to be true about Ekai and his community based off of the video. World Vision hopes all will come to realize that we all hunger and thirst for something in life, and it just so happens that Ekai and many others in similar situations, hunger for food. A mutual understanding was thus created, that Ekai and people like him, don’t want others to feel bad for him, they just want the world to have compassion and empathy for each other. Starting the Famine with this in mind was instrumental.
Next, the Youth Group participated in a simulation where they made decisions on behalf of a fictional child who was faced with challenges that represent the experiences of millions of children living in poverty. This was no easy task, as the decisions that were made affected the quality of the child’s life significantly. Such decisions included moving to the city after a storm ruined the family’s crops, staying in school or working underage, being a child bride or staying with your family and so on. Our Youth learned how difficult it was to make such lofty decisions while under severe pressure.
Next, the Youth Group learned about Ekai’s home. His igloo-shaped house is made of cardboard and rope and does not defend the outside elements well. In order to understand this principle better, the Youth participated in a Scavenger Scramble. Because disasters like flash floods, mudslides, droughts, etc. occur frequently, the probability of evacuating quickly from one’s home is likely. The Youth had to quickly gather random items that were on a list. Since these items were things that aren’t normally found in a church, brought with them or readily available, it was challenging. The Youth realized that having few or no belongings made it difficult. Lacking processions puts people in a vulnerable position when having to flee quickly.
Next, the Youth learned about the importance of clean water. Not having clean water is a critical issue for many parts of the world. Although we don’t see it because we have an abundant amount of choices for water (tap or filtered, flat or carbonated, flavored or plain, hot or cold, etc.) it is a big issue for many people. Many women and children have to walk for hours each day to fetch water for their families. When filled, a water jug can weigh up to 70 pounds, turning this task into a back-breaking effort. The Youth received a small taste of this during an activity in which they had to hold a gallon of water, shoulder-height, without bending their back or arms. We could only imagine how tiring it would be to lug water for hours every single day.
Next, the Youth worked on designing and decorating their shirts which will be worn on their Summer Mission Trip.
After making shirts, it was time to learn about how Ekai receives medical attention. Thankfully, there is a clinic about a 30 minutes walk from Ekai’s village. He hurt his foot while walking to school one day, causing him to limp, so he needed to get it looked out. Where children are going hungry, disease is not far behind. When kids don’t have enough nutritious foods, their bodies become especially vulnerable to illness. Youth were given 24 cards, which included six diseases, causes, symptoms and prevention techniques that needed to be put back into order. It was amazing to see how simple prevention options like a vitamin supplement or bed net could help reduce diseases.
It only seemed appropriate to save the food discussion to the end of the night, when the Youth were really starting to get hungry. With many of Africa depending on rainwater, the worsening drought patters are shriveling up farms and becoming wastelands. What once was lush and prosperous crops are now replaced with dusty and dry land. Since every grain matters, the Youth had to gather seed in a spoon from one side of the Fellowship hall and transport it to their family’s small bowl at the opposite side of the room. The tricky part was, they had to hold the plastic spoon in their mouth. Let’s just say, I’m still finding rice on the floor.
After another activity, video and short devotional of Allison’s Mission Trip to Nicaragua, it was time to get ready for bed. The Youth brought sleeping bags and pillows, allowing them to somewhat get the effect of sleeping on the ground. The prayer chain started, where Youth would get time alone with God in the Chapel to pray for 15-20 minutes. After learning so much and getting to see how others live in the world, it was good to get some time alone to reflect.
Breaking the Fast
Wake up call was bright and early and boy, was everyone hungry! There were groans and a storm of questions of “when are we eating,” “when’s breakfast,” “what are we eating?” Some Youth didn’t feel well. Some were tired, faint and dizzy. Even through all of that, it was important to press on and remember the purpose for why we were fasting. It was encouraging to remember, that Ekai found it difficult to concentrate at school because he was hungry. We too could push through and make it another two hours.
9:00 am rolled around and it was time to start our worship service. We prayed, sang and reflected on what the high point of the Famine was. We heard a message about how Isaiah asked God to send him (Isaiah 6:1-8) and that we too can ask God to send us. We then broke our fast with Communion.
After the service, the Youth had a bountiful breakfast awaiting them in the Fellowship Hall. They indulged in different flavored pancakes, sausage, fruit and caramelized apples. Victory! But, we couldn’t help but think that most children in the world don’t have a big meal waiting for them when they’re hungry. We can chose to allow this famine experience to rip us to shreds. To make us sad, confused and even angry with the world or God. Or, we can turn those feelings into action and turn this world upside down by love. Let’s chose the latter!
Thank you to Henry Brown, Gary Bernhardt, Loretta Croft, Judy Harbison, Emily Moberg and Larry & Karyn Briggs for volunteering and serving our Youth! You are the best!
View all of our pictures here!