Posts Tagged 30 Hour Famine

Privilege as Blessing

On Monday I read an interesting Her.meneutics post by one of our Tyndale authors, Caryn Rivadeneira. In the article, Caryn shares about a talk by model Cameron Russell about how her success is based on privilege–in her case, her beauty. You can watch her talk in its entirety here. In response to this, Caryn writes:

“Talking about success based on privilege is more than uncomfortable and complicated—it’s scandalous. We just don’t do that. At least, not us boot-strapping Americans. We want to talk about how hard we’ve worked, how many hours we put in, how much we sacrificed. Few of us are willing to talk about the level to which our success comes through natural gifts, our own legacies or ‘genetic lotteries.’ This is a shame, especially among Christians. To deny our privilege means we deny the gifts and blessings God has given us…Beyond that, when we ignore our own privilege, we fail to recognize that others don’t enjoy the same privilege. If we go on believing our success is all about us and our hard work, we can in turn believe that others don’t enjoy the same success merely because they are lazy.”

I agree that it often is privilege and not just our hard work that helps us succeed in life. When Gerald was looking for a teaching position last year people would always tell him it’s about who you know. It’s the connections you have within the school system that will help your resume get noticed in the midst of the hundreds of applications districts get for a single position. He got his current position not by knowing someone, but partly because he is a male elementary teacher. How can I make that assumption? Because the school was trying to decide between Gerald and another candidate for the position and both were men. Obviously the school was looking for more male teachers. Privilege at work.

This isn’t something we should be ashamed of. Like Caryn says, we need to see these privileges as blessings from God. After all, He is the One who made these things happen. When I read Caryn’s article, I just came of the 30 Hour Famine with my church’s youth group. This semester we’re going through the book of Ecclesiastes, which happens to be one of my favorite books of the Bible. As I read the article, I was reminded of one of the main points from the Bible study we did on Saturday during the Famine.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-14 says:

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. {bold emphasis mine}

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Mexican sunset in the Riveria Maya

Most of Ecclesiastes seems depressing, but there are these hopeful reminders like the verse I bolded above. The writer talks about how pointless it is to seek after wisdom, pleasure, and work because life is just a vapor. It’s gone after a moment. Then there are these positives where the writer reminds us that we should enjoy life because it is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes refers to what happens “under the sun,” apart from God. One of the main lessons we wanted the teens to remember last weekend is that your work, the things that bring you pleasure, and wisdom are all not meaningless if we remind ourselves that all those things are gifts from God. God wants us to work hard. He wants us to enjoy life and He wants us to be wise. We recognize that we don’t have control over what happens in our lives–only God does. I reminded the teens that we didn’t choose where to be born. They could’ve been born in a third world country and grown up not knowing when their next meal would come. We all could’ve been handed a different lot in life and yet we’re where we are because God placed us here. I don’t think that means God is heartless for placing certain people in difficult living situations and others in a life of privilege. It’s another reminder that we don’t understand where we fit into His great plan for the world. If we try to figure it out, it’s just “chasing after the wind.”

When we give up our desire to control our lives, we have the freedom to enjoy life. 

So it’s my hope and prayer that in all that I do, I do it knowing that God has given me gifts, talents, and the ability to enjoy His blessings and creation. It’s only right that I give glory and praise to the One who deserves it all.

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30 Hour Famine

Building a soccer ball for our TRIBE game

Building a soccer ball for our TRIBE game

This past weekend I did World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine again with my youth group. If you’re not familiar with the 30 Hour Famine, it’s an event run by World Vision where youth groups fast for 30 hours in order to get a taste of what it feels like for children around the world who face starvation and malnutrition every day. The teens participating in the fast raise money from donations, which World Vision then uses to help feed these children and their families. Usually when youth groups do the Famine, it’s a lock-in event. They begin the fast on their own at noon on Friday and end the fast together at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. I did the 30 Hour Famine when I was in youth group so I always had fond memories from that weekend. That’s why I love doing it with our youth group now.

For the past four years when I’ve done the Famine as a leader, I’ve been able to get through the entire 30 hours without really feeling hungry. At first I felt guilty that I didn’t feel hungry at all because I wasn’t experiencing hunger like we were supposed to, but I also see it as God’s provision for me as a leader. It’s hard to lead 30 or so youth in a weekend of events when you’re suffering from hunger too. Last year I even increased my fast to 40 hours, but I still don’t remember feeling very hungry the entire time.

This year, however, was different and I came away with a couple lessons. I ate lunch a little earlier at work and then started the fast. Usually the fast isn’t too bad on Friday because you’re only missing one meal. As I drove home from work, I kept thinking about how nice it would be to just eat a little snack. I wasn’t even that hungry, but I just wanted to eat something. I realized how much I take food for granted. Even though my body’s not telling me I need food, I decide to eat it anyway because it’s so available. When I got home, I was tempted to eat some candy we have sitting out and later at church I was tempted again while putting together some bags of pretzels and marshmallows for an activity. No one was around in both of these situations and it would’ve been so easy to just take one bite, but I resisted.

It’s funny how the food I wanted had little nutritional value. The things that are good for you are always the things that take more work and effort. We exercise in order to stay fit. We have to cook to try and eat healthier meals and read labels to make healthier food choices. We need to put in time and effort in order to see results and successes at work or school. We have to invest time and energy into our marriages and relationships. We need to spend time reading our Bible, praying, and seeking the Lord in order to have a better relationship with God. 

During our games on Friday night, I felt a little lightheaded, something that happens whenever I’m really hungry. I didn’t feel like I was starving, but I knew then that this fast wouldn’t be as easy on my body as past years. I drank more water and that helped, but I definitely felt more out of it at different times during the Famine. It was hard trying to lead Bible studies when I couldn’t focus as well. I can only imagine how the kids felt trying to sit there and pay attention. It gave us an idea though of how hard it is for malnourished children to pay attention in school when they’re hungry. It’d be nearly impossible to do well.

Our youth group’s fundraising goal this year was $4,500.00. I’m not sure what our final total was yet, but I think we reached it or maybe even exceeded it. Thank you to those of you who donated to my online page! I exceeded my personal fundraising goal in just two days! Praise God for your generosity and heart. 🙂

We watched a video from the Catalyst conference during the Famine that showed the testimony of Michelle, who was a

Youth leading worship!

Youth leading worship!

Compassion child from the Philippines. I’d actually heard Michelle’s story on Moody radio before, but I was moved again by seeing her testimony. Gerald and I are talking about sponsoring our own Compassion child. It’s a small sacrifice we can make each month that has a huge impact in a child’s life.

This post might be a little disjointed because I’m still tired and recovering from the weekend. I went home Saturday night after our break-fast meal and crashed. I got nearly ten hours of sleep that night! Obviously right now though my sleep cycle’s getting messed up again (it’s 11 p.m.). Though weekends like this are tiring and I give up most of my weekend for the youth, it’s worth it. The kids all filled out meal tickets before they could eat to share what they learned or how the Famine weekend impacted them. I can’t wait to read some of their responses to see what God was doing in their hearts. These kids never cease to encourage me!

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More Than Enough

One easy cardboard shelter done!

A couple weeks ago, I did the 30 Hour Famine with my youth group at church again. The past couple years when I’ve done the Famine as a leader, I haven’t felt hungry at the end of the 30 hour fast. Part of the point of the Famine is to get a taste of what it feels like to be hungry–like what millions of people feel everyday. So this year I planned to do a longer fast.

I came to the 30 Hour Famine lock-in on Friday night exhausted after having gotten up at 3am for a Royal Wedding viewing party followed by a dentist appointment and then work. I started my fast at 6:30 am after the Royal Wedding and planned to do a 30.5 hour fast hoping to to feel hunger more.

During the 30 Hour Famine, we worshipped in song, did devotionals and had small group discussions. We cleaned and did yard work as part of our Youth for Rent service projects, played games, and built cardboard shelters. Throughout the weekend I felt some slight hunger pangs, but I was never so hungry that I felt like I couldn’t do anything.

By the end of the Famine as we started our worship and sharing time before breaking the fast together, I did some reflection of my own. The recurring theme for me during the Famine weekend was that God is more than enough for each day. I don’t have to worry and I can trust Him because He provides all that I need for each day. So even though I wasn’t hungry at the end of the Famine again, this time I saw it a different way.

Maybe I wasn’t hungry because God was providing for me with what I needed at the time–I needed to be sustained to help

Cleaning up a patio as a service project

lead the Famine activities and to be alert for the lock-in so we could minister to the youth at the same time. Although the 30 Hour Famine is about raising awareness and funds for hunger, often times I find that God teaches us about more than that. Through the sharing time, we saw how God revealed our need to listen to Him, to obey immediately when we hear His call, how much we complain about when we have so much to be grateful for, God’s provision in fundraising and much more that wasn’t even said.

Speaking of fundraising, this year our ambitious goal was $7,500.00. I’m not sure of our exact amount for the year yet, but I do know that we raised at least 58% of it (which is pretty good!). Again this year, I kept feeling skeptical (and still do, honestly) that we’ll reach that goal. I constantly remind myself that nothing is impossible with God. And even if we don’t fully reach our goal, our youth group is able to feed so many kids with the money we raised. $30 feeds one child for a month. We’ve already been provided with more than enough. It’s a blessing to provide children around the world with even a little (a little that they see as more than enough).

How has God showed Himself to be more than enough for you?

A 30 Hour Famine rep came and interviewed our teens!

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40 Days Without Coffee

Picture from Starbucks.com

Technically I’m going 46 days without coffee since the season of Lent doesn’t include Sundays (as a Sabbath from your fast). Although I was especially tempted in the last few weeks of the fast, I’m restraining from drinking any coffee for the entire 46 days. I never gave up anything for Lent before since it’s not part of our church’s tradition, but this year I decided to fast from coffee. Why? Because fasting is about giving up anything that comes between you and your relationship with God.

It’s not that coffee necessarily prevented me from having a relationship with God, but I realized that I definitely desired having my daily coffee more than having my daily time with God. For someone who’s trying to live more like Christ and to follow Him, that’s a problem. Just to clarify, I wasn’t completely giving up caffiene. I still allowed myself to drink tea, which worked out quite nicely because I got pretty sick the first week of the fast and drank a TON of tea.

Since then though I’ve drunk more chai than usual (and I’m starting to crave my lattes) and more water (which is a good thing anyway). I’ve also gone some days without having a hot drink in the morning (whether it be chai or hot chocolate instead of coffee). I’m not one of those people who gets caffiene headaches from not having coffee or caffiene in my system, so in that sense the fast was easy. It has been harder this past week when I’ve been rationalizing with myself that it would be okay to drink one cup of coffee because I didn’t use any of my Sabbath days. Luckily I haven’t given in to myself, but the fast is about more than just succeeding in the fast. I especially learned that from a new book we’re publishing that I’m the publicist for: Craving Grace by Lisa Velthouse. But more on that another time. 🙂

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

  1. I spent more time with God daily. I don’t necessarily think this was because I was fasting from coffee, but it’s more because of an accountability spreadsheet I started on Google Docs with one of the girls in my youth group to keep us both accountable for our daily devotions. It’s been really helpful for both of us because we both log in and write down the passage we read that day and then some of our thoughts about it. So we can see if the other person has or hasn’t done their devo for that day. We’re not super strict about it–like coming down hard on the other person if they miss their devo one day–but it does help us to make God more of a priority in our daily lives remembering that we’re not doing this alone. We’re both trying to spend more time in God’s Word and this spreadsheet has been really helpful in helping us to keep each other accountable in that and to see what the other person is learning.
  2. I realized I don’t pray enough. This realization hit me last week as I was thinking about my fast. I don’t spend enough time with God in prayer. And like really praying–not just a quick prayer thanking him for my food or the prayers I say in church or youth group. I used to keep a prayer journal, but I’ve been really bad about keeping that up lately. So last Sunday I did a long 9-mile run after church and decided not to take my iPod with me (mostly so I could carry my water bottle & also just for safety reasons). Nine miles is a long time to run without music. So during that first half of the run (like up to mile 5) I just prayed. I prayed for every person in our youth group leaders meeting and for the requests we shared that day. I prayed for my family. I prayed for Gerald and me. It was refreshing. Not only did it help to distract me from the miles I still had to go and the tiredness in my legs, but I had some wonderful time with God. I need to do this more often.
  3. I don’t need coffee. I knew this before, but that I’ve nearly completed my fast, I can see that I don’t always need to have coffee–especially if I’m buying it from Starbucks (which can add up). I tried avoiding Starbucks during this fast, but that only lasted a week. I did go a lot less though, also partially because I’m trying to save money for my wedding and for Gerald and my future together. Hopefully once this fast is over, I’ll remember this fact more often so that I can be a better steward of my money!

Even as I complete this coffee fast, fasting and its purpose is still on my mind as our youth group prepares for World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine. We’re going to be fasting for 30 hours while raising funds and awareness for world hunger. Our goal this year is to raise $7,500 for hunger in Haiti (which I’ll happen to be right near this summer when I go on my honeymoon to the Dominican Republic!). I’m actually going to be fasting for around 44 hours since I wasn’t hungry at all the last two years and there’s no way I’m getting up really early in the morning to eat before starting the 30 hour fast at noon on Friday, April 29. So please be in prayer for us–and if you feel led to give, we’d appreciate any donations you’d like to make to our team. You can donate online here.

So as we continue in this Holy Week, may we all be focused on Christ and what His Resurrection means in our lives. From my fast, I hope to keep up those precious times of Bible reading and prayer that draw me closer to God. Now I can even do both those things with coffee in hand. 🙂

Did you give up anything for Lent? What have you learned from the experience?

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