Our 30 Hour Famine is Over… Now What?

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

Ross CarperRoss Carper of Spokane, Washington

Eat.

Sleep.

These first two post-Famine steps are nothing to skip over. Yes, you should nourish your body with a glad and thankful heart. And yes, you should study the interior of your eyelids for absurd lengths of time. But many of us wonder: what comes next? We’ve put weeks (maybe even months) of effort into an amazingly impactful weekend… a community experience that so beautifully combines fun, faith transformation, and deep engagement with issues of justice in our world.

So, is it any wonder that stepping back into our normal lives might leave us feeling a little… hungry?

For youth workers and students, this hunger is what makes the post-Famine season special. We’re simply in a different place than we were before we began this adventure. The question is whether we will choose to let the Famine way of life become a part of our identity, rather than letting it be just an activity. In this way, our follow-up to the Famine might be more important than the weekend itself. So, how can we get it right?

I’d love to hear what other leaders/students are doing on this front, so make sure to leave a comment.

Here is some stuff our group has enacted in the Famine aftermath:

Dig In

You’ve already eaten, so I’m talking about digging into the Bible to help answer the “now what” question. Did you know there is an almost eerily applicable section of scripture…one that wrestles with the exact thing we’re dealing with? Check for yourself: it’s crazy how much Isaiah 58 rings true in the days and weeks after the Famine. God is encouraging people to move from a one-time fast (a sort of drive-thru-window experience of faith and justice) to a deep, ongoing lifestyle of loving our Creator and our neighbors. Find a way–whatever way that works best with your group–to creatively engage with this chapter after your 30 Hour Famine. Be sure to include practical, concrete ways your group can stop exploiting people, speak up for the voiceless, and empower neighbors to have the basics (food, shelter, clothing). And be sure to recognize the spiritual ramifications of such action (or inaction)–it’s really what the chapter is about..

Capture Stories

Have you ever heard the phrase “don’t forget in the dark what you’ve learned in the light”? It’s striking because it’s true. We experience something big, but often the busyness and distractedness of life causes the most vivid take-away lessons to evaporate. As you’re sifting through pictures and video clips (or hashtagged tweets) from your 30 Hour Famine, don’t forget to approach actual people. Have your group leaders meet with students one-on-one, and set up meetings yourself, too. Turn on an audio or video recorder and simply ask students to tell the story of their experience. Ask follow up questions: small stuff about weirdest noises our stomachs made, and big stuff about who God is and who we are called to be. Collect these somehow. Feel free to use the clips to make a video or audio collage that tells the story. But remember, it’s not about the “product”. It’s about those one-on-one conversations that encourage students (and leaders) to remember the goodness they’ve experienced.

Celebrate

I know, I know. You celebrated during hour 31. But consider how powerful and fun it might be to take a week or two after your 30 Hour Famine, gather some thoughts and stories, invite whoever will listen, and then throw a big ol’ party. That’s what we did this year after our February 22-23 Famine. Ten days later, we did a dessert event called “The Banquet After the Famine.” We created it to be sort of like a end-of-season sports/activities recognition banquet. Students and volunteer leaders dressed up nice and took to the spotlight. They shared stories of the weekend, lessons they are taking away, and celebrated the difference their Famine funds will make in rural Ethiopia. It was also a great outreach event: teachers, coaches, parents, extended family, and church members learned a lot about our community and what we offer middle schoolers in our city. Once again, leaders get to help students prepare what to say in front of a crowd. And once again, it’s not about making great speeches; it’s about having great conversations.

These are three things we focused on this year. The 30 Hour Famine is, by sheer time-length, a relational fast-forward between our students and their mentors. It’s the equivalent of six months of youth group meetings, all in one weekend. For our group, we love the places it leads us in our relationship with God, our love of neighbors, and in the relational ministry that happens between students and leaders.

One final tip: whatever we do, we try to ask our group the holy trinity of questions: “(1) WHAT? (2) SO WHAT? (3) NOW WHAT?” In other words: what was your Famine like, what did it truly mean, and what new actions are you willing to take?

You’ve eaten. You’ve slept. Now go debrief with your group!