My 30 Hour Famine Experience

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

Paige Rouse, 2014 Famine Study Tour Participant

Paige RouseIn March of 2014, I participated in the 30 Hour Famine with my youth group. Many months before the event, it was heavily talked about every Wednesday night at youth group. My best friend would lean over, nudge me, and tell me that we should participate. I looked at her like she was crazy. She knew that I have a heart for ministry and how I know there’s a calling from God on my life to serve His people, but this seemed like the most undesirable thing to do. Couldn’t I just raise money and send it to these starving people and it be just as effective?

Do you ever get a nudge from God?  The kind of nudge where you think you are making the right decision in a situation and he shows or tells you that your decision isn’t what he wants. Well, God spoke pretty clear to my heart in the moment when my youth group leaders showed videos about these children who had been hungry all of their lives. It broke my heart, and I began to cry right then and there at youth group. I was a mess, I had to let go of my pride and realize that once again, God was right. He showed me how much this kind of thing impacts me, and that I needed to do what I could to do my part in putting this epidemic to an end.

After that God started a fire in my heart. I had such a passion for raising awareness and money for this event and the reason I was participating. I went to youth group one Wednesday and they showed the video promoting the World Vision Study Tour. I have never been so motivated to raise money. With the desire to help people and maybe have the chance of meeting them made me so excited. My peers and friends began to notice a difference in how I carried myself. I was already beginning to feel the awesomeness of the presence of my Heavenly Father.

Then the day came, and it was time to fast. I was so nervous and excited all at the same time. Dinner time came rolling around and my stomach began to growl. We had a time where we all spread out and had a quiet time with God. I sat outside in the grass and just sat in silence feeling the wind and listening to God. And I knew he was telling me that this would change my life. All I needed to do was to open my heart and embrace this whole experience and all that he had to show me.

We played a bunch of games that symbolized what life was like for children in South America. They were extremely difficult but very eye opening. As a team we really bonded through these games. When the time came for us to build our cardboard tents, my team faced some difficulties with the layout and the tape not sticking. At first I could see we were starting to become irritated because the hunger was starting to really set in and the shelter just wasn’t coming together as we planned. So we decided to come together as a team and let ideas be shared and all got on the same page. From there on out, everyone on my team’s attitudes was amazing. They were all open to new ideas and had extreme patience. It was an incredible thing to be a part of.

Surprising, I slept amazing that night. But it was very different sleeping in a cardboard box when it is very cold outside and the wind is blowing pretty hard. The next morning we got up and played some more games before we headed out to do out service project. We did some yard work for an organization that helps children whose parents struggle with addiction. The children live in houses with host families and their parents live right across the street where they are getting help from their addictions. This is so that the children can grow up in a safe environment while also having a healthy relationship with their parents. It’s hard to have a positive attitude doing hard yard work while also very hungry. But getting to meet the kids and serve them was definitely what I needed to turn my attitude around. Everyone in the youth group had committed to serving with a great attitude. That was another amazing thing to get to experience and be a part of.

But my favorite part of the whole famine was that we broke our fast with communion. That was incredible. My heart had changed in just 30 hours. And I could hear a calling. I had to apply for the Study Tour, even if I didn’t make it. I could hear God speaking so loud that that was what he was calling me to do. I had to meet the people I had been learning about for 30 hours.

It’s funny how when God has a true calling on our lives, he won’t let it be forgotten. I put off filling out the application form until the week before it was due. It’s not that I didn’t want to I just didn’t think it was that big of a priority as time went on. But he spoke loud and clear again that this was what he wanted me to do.

A couple weeks later I was on a Skype call with a couple staff members of World Vision and they announced that I was a part of Team El Salvador! I was speechless and couldn’t stop shaking. I was so excited. I got off the call and my mom was waiting a couple feet away ready to hug me so tight. We both began to cry for joy. From there I had to tell everyone: My community, church, friends, and family were so thrilled!

I’m so excited for this trip. I have never been out of the county before. I am also super excited that my birthday will be on the trip (August 2nd). Best birthday ever, right?! I’ve been praying so hard that God would open my heart and mind to experience everything he has to show me on this trip.

God is so wonderful and never ceases to amaze me. I love him with all of my heart.  I know this trip is going to be life-changing.