image description

The Famine Blog

Remembering Your 30 Hour Famine

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Brad Hauge

I don’t remember what I had for breakfast last Friday. Really, I don’t. I’m also not entirely sure what I taught at youth group 6 weeks ago, and if I’m being honest, I can’t remember exactly what outfit I sent my daughter off to school in just this morning.

Does it matter? Probably not. I haven’t incurred any brain trauma (at least I don’t think…) that would cause short-term memory loss. I’ve never dealt with amnesia before, and there is plenty about my week I can remember. So, that’s good.

But if I can’t remember the things of my fairly structured and low-key adult life, how much can we really expect the students in our ministries (who are stressed to the max) to fully remember; let alone digest and reflect on what it means to their lives.

Which, as youth workers, is actually pretty frustrating, right? We agonize over what we teach, craft perfectly worded small group questions, and invent brilliant Scripture illustrations all to realize that 30 minutes after the kids get home, and hop on their phones or start their homework, there is seemingly little leftover residue from our program on their lives.

And the frustration we often feel when lessons and moments don’t seem to have much lasting impact on student’s day-to-day lives is only compounded when it follows an incredible and important event like 30 Hour Famine.

Some things are worth remembering. Your 30 Hour Famine experience is worth remembering. The thousands upon thousands of children struggling with hunger-related issues are worth remembering. And the fact that your students have the power to do something about it is worth remembering.

Many of us are currently planning our year-end youth groups and gatherings, so let’s ask: how might we use those moments together to remember? To look back and raise Ebenezers to the moments God showed up and was at work in and amongst your students. And specifically, through the work of your 30 Hour Famine this past winter or spring. Here are some ideas to help you help them remember:

    • Create a 30 Hour Famine-themed prayer station your students can use to remember the passion they felt for being a part of something bigger than themselves. Use specific photos and information that was taught during the Famine to help guide them as they pray for those still hungry.
    • Celebrate! Use the end of the school/program year to celebrate what the funds raised during your Famine might be up to currently. Reach out to World Vision and see if they have some (probably not specific to your team’s actual funds) stories and photos of actual action happening on the group providing food, hope, and resources for folks around the world that wouldn’t be possible without your student’s activism.
    • Sponsor a child through World Vision and make it part of your group’s weekly rhythm. Take up an ‘offering’ each week when you gather and use the 2-3 minutes while you “pass the plates” to talk about, or show videos depicting, the work that is ongoing around the world to raise awareness and funds for hunger related issues.
    • Designate 5-10 minutes on the first week of every month as “30 Hour Famine Check In” time, where you can raise awareness for struggles around the world from starvation to the refugee crisis, share fun and meaningful memories from your most recent famine together, and spend time praying for the hungry both at home and around the world.

Forgetting is natural—especially in our current cultural climate of immediacy. However, that doesn’t mean we have to forget—and it doesn’t mean we have to let our students forget. Especially when remembering means God is at work in the world, that we get to be a part of that work, and that the work we’re a part of with God can change the world. That’s worth remembering. 

Great Youth Ministry Requires Vulnerability

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Beth Ruzanic

Lately I’ve been thinking about what best motivates young people. As a 25-year veteran of youth ministry (volunteer and paid) and a mom of four kids (17, 16, 14, 10), I have spent an untold number of hours talking to, praying for and worrying about teenagers. There is no doubt that our culture has gone through massive transformations in the last 2.5 decades, but I’m not at all convinced that the hearts and lives of young people have.

When I was a teenager (which, in my mind, doesn’t seem like that long ago) what I wanted more than anything else was to be deeply known and even more deeply loved. There’s no way that I could have communicated that to anyone but I think I knew it myself. I wanted meaningful connections with people—connections that plumbed the depths of life and didn’t just remain on the surface. In my conversations with young people today I hear that longing still and maybe even more strongly than ever before. The yearning for a connection with someone that taps into what is really at stake in life, that doesn’t let them off the hook or give up on them when things get tough. These are the kind of connections that young people need and the connections that will motivate them to greatness. Not greatness in the typical, American sense but the greatness that comes from knowing they are meant for something more than this world has to offer.

So, how can we accomplish this in our youth ministries? It all starts by nurturing an atmosphere of VULNERABILITY. Having adult standards for kids is the wrong way to build resiliency within them. We have to be nurturing to build up strength within the kids we minister to. In the last few years GRIT has become a buzzword in our culture, and there have been countless conversations in school and at home about how to develop grit in young people. Grit in and of itself isn’t a bad thing at all but I believe most people are thinking about in the wrong way. Tough love isn’t how to develop grit—parents, teachers and youth workers have to be nurturing, empathetic and vulnerable in order to develop grit and resilience in kids today. We need to provide them with a connection that is stable, reliable and unconditionally loving. This will motivate them to growth, trust and depth in all areas of life.

Vulnerability gets a bad rap. By its very nature it is leaving yourself open and unprotected—and that isn’t a comfortable place for most of us. Perhaps we can tweak that narrative a bit and create spaces where we help kids learn that being vulnerable is much closer to how we were meant to live. Spaces that will make them want to leave their phones at the door so they can be unencumbered enough to let their guard down and be loved in ways that are transformational. There is no magic formula but there is a catch: you have to embrace vulnerability yourself first. We cannot take anyone to a place we aren’t willing to go ourselves. The journey towards vulnerability isn’t an easy one—it requires us to get real on every level. It insists that we let go of the idea that we can do things on our own. This road is relentless in its pursuit of tearing down the walls we have built up to protect ourselves. We will walk this journey for the rest of our lives and it will reward us with connections so deep and true that we will realize that we were never protected before; that our walls were a joke that tricked us into believing we were okay.

Embrace vulnerability. It will transform you and then it will transform how you relate to young people.

Everything Else is Utterly Meaningless

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Keely DeBoever

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the ONE THING we need to be sharing on repeat with our students and the church: “YOU ARE CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD AND YOU HAVE A PURPOSE THAT GOD IS CALLING YOU TO LIVE INTO.” It was such an encouraging conversation and one that I needed to hear. She reminded me to find my mantra; those words that speak into the life of my students each time we meet together, that will stick with them far longer than any lesson or Bible Study I ever do.

The conversation began with me lamenting over that moment when you think you’ve really hooked them and you’re just about to reel them in – then a hand shoots up and your heart swells as you anticipate the depth and understanding that your student is about to articulate, only to be met with, “Can I go to the bathroom?” WIND…OUT…OF…SAILS. We spent the next hour or so messaging each other quippy responses: 

“Can I go to the bathroom?” “Yes, but only if you remember while you’re in there how lavishly you are loved and accepted.” 

“Can I go to the bathroom?” “Yes, but only if you’re thinking the whole time about how perfectly and purposefully you were created to bring joy and life to the world with your unique awesomeness.”

By the end of the conversation I was laughing at my own hubris and already planning how to incorporate that message (legitimately) into the next lesson I had planned. I was instantly reminded of the words in Ecclesiastes 1, “Everything is meaningless.” Ha! That sounds like a terrifying realization, but it was actually an encouraging one. Thank GOD that I am not the one responsible for the salvation of my students. Thank GOD that I am not flailing alone in the wilderness with no one to help. Thank GOD for speaking into the lives of my students through so much more than my words, even if I think the words I happen to be speaking are overwhelmingly profound and enlightening. Thank GOD for friends in my life who remind me that without God and the simple reminders of his goodness every day, we’d all be lost; and everything really would be meaningless.

When working with students, what we say during a lesson is far less important than what we are saying in between. I have always felt that I had a knack for connecting with students, but I am also always overly critical of myself when a lesson or program doesn’t go exactly the way I planned. I am learning slowly but surely to rely on God and not on my own understandings; but it is taking a little longer than I had hoped. Most of the things that we focus so intently on matter very little in the end. This conversation did more than remind me of what we should be doing better as the church: it reminded me that I, too, AM CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD AND I HAVE A PURPOSE THAT GOD IS CALLING ME TO LIVE INTO. Failure and bruised egos are a part of life, but they can never change this truth and will never make our value any less. Man, if I can help my students understand that kind of truth through my actions and my words, I think everything else really would be meaningless…and I could be okay with that!

More Than Money

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Danny Kwon

Our group has been doing the 30 Hour Famine every year of its existence except the first year. I am always impressed when I see posts of the different youth groups after their 30 Hour Famine event, and the amount of money they raised through their efforts. And, if I’m honest, sometimes I’m a little insecure we didn’t do more. I even wonder if some of these groups who did such an incredible job with their Famine fundraising surpass our group’s lifetime total. 

Ultimately, I share this not because I feel shamed or insecure. But the efforts and totals of my group and other groups tell me something again that we all know: that 30 Hour Famine is about more than the money or totals we raise. Even greater, that teenagers are incredible and can do so much good, often greater than the expectations we set or have for them. Last summer I was on a mission trip with The Youth Cartel and Praying Pelican Missions, and Mark Oestreicher (who was on the trip) told my youth group an incredible story of his church and how the youth group decided to do a talent show fundraiser where at first there was pessimism by the adults leaders about how much could be raised. Of course, he shared this story because they raised an incredible amount. In addition, the greater point was: more than the money, the huge amount raised was a reflection of the incredible faith and passion of the teenagers in his church.

For me, each year as we finish the Famine and start to count the funds we raised, I get really blessed to see the incredible efforts of our students; but again, it is about more than the money. We not only do the Famine, but since our Famine is the weekend of Easter, our teenagers participate in a Philadelphia-wide event called Easter Outreach. As part of that, our youth group travels down to Philadelphia early Saturday morning, loads and unloads trucks of chickens, vegetables, groceries, and desserts, then packages them and delivers them to those in need. It is an incredible time of serving and joy for teenagers.

As I reflected on this again, counting our funds raised, I started thinking that not only are the funds we raised a reflection of the awesome teenagers we have, but maybe while counting our funds, we need to count how much more our teenagers can do. What I am saying is: if our teens can do so much for just this one event, can’t they so much more? How are we utilizing their spirit, passion, energy, and God-given giftedness to do even more? 

I love the Famine. It is a lot of work as volunteers and youth workers to execute. But if it is about more than the money, can we be challenged to do more with our teenagers, to direct their passion to do good in the world, all in the name of Jesus? 

An Important Note for Those Leading a 30 Hour Famine Event This Weekend

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Erin Betlej

Dear Youth Leader,

When you signed up for the 30 Hour Famine months ago you knew it was a great decision. You were even excited about it. You came up with some crazy fundraiser (that may or may not have involved a shaved head or died hair) that was super successful and excited your youth. You spent each week promoting, making sure that attendance would be great. Thousands of dollars raised, dozens of hours spent planning the actual event. Now, you are merely days away and you’re not so sure. Maybe you’ve done this before. You remember what happens in those late night hours. You know that somewhere between hour 25 and hour 27 your youth change. Your youth become aliens who are lethargic, distant, and have no interest in the activities you’ve spent hours planning. And let’s not forget about what you’re feeling: you’re hangry. Hungry and frustrated that your youth no longer have the same level of excitement they had at hour 1.

But here is the deal: you are doing a great job. Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.” Fasting for 30 hours is a small thing in the grand scheme of the battle against hunger, but it is something great. Fundraising is important because it can put food on tables, but walking youth through 30 hours of fasting is a beautiful thing. Each step of the way you bring awareness to the WHY of the fast.

So here is my encouragement: First, YOU CAN DO IT! 30 hours will end. This too shall pass. Second, remember your WHY. You chose this event for a reason. Come back to that in the tough moments. These 30 hours will have a longer lasting impact on the culture of your youth group – hang onto that.

My dearest youth leader, take a deep breath, pray for patience and grace because YOU CAN DO THIS! You are a rock star, you will survive and the 30 Hour Famine is a game changer. Way to change your youth and the world!

In Christ,

A fellow Famine survivor

What’s the one thing you want them to remember?

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Katie Swift, 30 Hour Famine Director

It’s that time again – national 30 Hour Famine weekend is upon us! If you’re hosting a Famine event this weekend, you might be feeling a little frazzled right now (in fact, I’d be surprised if you have time to read this!). But I just want to offer you a question to focus on as you are preparing for this weekend: What’s the one thing you want your students to remember after the weekend is over?

I participated in the 30 Hour Famine back in Middle School. It was held at a camp, and churches came from all over the United Methodist Conference that one of my best friends was a part of. I would go to this event with her church because I loved that camp, and then I came to love 30 Hour Famine. My first year doing the Famine, there was a guest speaker from West Africa. He spoke to us about his childhood and how it was to grow up not having food for three full meals a day. At the time, his country was going through a devastating civil war. While I don’t remember all the details of what he told us, I do remember that it was one of the first times that I truly understood that there are things that happen all over the world that are causing people to suffer. For the first time, I realized that I have some power to help, even if it’s just by feeding and caring for one child with a $40 donation. I do vividly remember him saying, as he pointed to a spot on a map, “If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this weekend, it’s that I’m from Sierra Leone. Remember that place.” 

And I remembered that place. Years later, I went on to spend a college semester in Ghana, less than 1,000 miles from Sierra Leone. I’ve thought of that man a lot as I traveled in West Africa and as I learned about different issues, from hunger to civil wars, facing millions of people around the world. I remember him and that 30 Hour Famine experience as the first time I was introduced to the needs of the world and my ability to make a difference, even if it’s a small one. 

So, my question for you as you prepare for this weekend is: What is the one thing you want your students to remember – next week, next year, or even 15 years from now, as they look back on this experience? It might be different for your group than other groups, or maybe even for different students within your group. Maybe you just desperately want them to remember that God loves them, because maybe you’re not sure they know that. Maybe you want them to remember that there are people in need around the world and that they have the power to change things (and that they ARE changing things by fundraising for 30HF!). Maybe you want them to remember that you are there for them as perhaps the only adult in their life they can depend on… 

I want to challenge you to think about that this week, pray about it. And if things don’t feel 100% organized, or all the way prepped, just remember that not getting the schedule perfect, or having to skip an activity, will ultimately probably not make a huge impact on their experience. Just remember that one thing that you want them to walk away with, and focus on how you achieve that. 

We’ll be praying for you this weekend. May God give you clarity and focus as you prepare, good sleep these next few nights, and extra energy and strength this weekend! And may God be working in the hearts of your students, as they grow closer to Him and learn about the call that Jesus has for us to care for our brothers and sisters around the globe, from your own community, to Sierra Leone, and beyond.  

Little by Little

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Brian Mateer

I don’t know about you but my life seems chaotic.  Work, kids, church, school, commute, activities;  it seems as though I wake up each morning and run a marathon for that day, crash in my bed then start it all over the next day.  I feel I am always in a constant state of catching up.  I yearn for a rare Saturday with a clear schedule and nothing to do but “be” and enjoy the company of my family.  

Sometimes I feel as though I am doing nothing well.  I reflect on my busyness and wonder what I have really accomplished other than surviving each day.  Furthermore, I ask myself, “Could I be doing this better, if I give this or that up?”  Yet, perhaps but by God’s grace, in my retrospection there are so many wonderful things that happen despite the messiness.

Though now I am a mission director at a church, I received a bachelor’s degree of science in biology.  One of my favorite classes in my academic career was an ornithology class.  Our lab was simply to observe birds in their natural habitat, identify them and to journal on their behaviors.  Despite predawn class gatherings, which no college student wants to endure, it was the most memorable and fascinating course.  My professor, Dr. Fisher was a wacky, near retirement age, self-proclaimed “king fisher” and a lover of birds.  He once almost ran off the road because he spotted a red-tailed hawk in route to a nearby park.  Thankfully, I was following behind in the college van.

In one of our class observations, my lab partner and I sat near a bluebird box and watched the activity.  Busily, a bluebird flew in to the box through the tiny hole bringing wadded up hair, twigs, and grass. It would stay inside for a short time, then would fly away to return with more building materials.  This went on for a long time.  As activity ceased, my lab partner and I lifted the latch on the bird box to observe a neatly twisted, perfect nest prepared to protect the precious eggs of the blue bird.

In my position as mission director, I’ve had the privilege of travelling to Haiti to be in ministry with my brothers and sisters of this beautiful yet challenged land.  On a recent trip, I learned a Haitian proverb I keep close in my thoughts.  “Little by little the bird builds its nest.”  

God takes the seeming twisted up chaos of my life and is able to make something orderly, comforting and safe for me and my family.  Little by little. Keep going. 

Dropping The Ball

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Joel Dunn

I remember leading my very first 30 Hour Famine back when I was just a wee lad (at the age of 22). I thought I was a big deal because I finally was a Youth Pastor and I was one at a fairly young age. I thought I had it all together and that this 30 Hour Famine was going to be one of the best in the history of forever because I [clap] AM [clap] AWESOME! Wow… let me tell you I get served a piece of humble pie that night.

So there I was with 40+ teenagers who were dropped off at 7pm at the church. We started our fast that morning at 6:00am and we fasted on a Friday, so the students did a whole day of school, sports, and extra curricular activities before we met up. As they showed up to the church they were already in a cranky mood (a.k.a. ‘hangry’). I knew exactly what they needed that night… DODGEBALL and GAMES! I thought, “what could go wrong?” 

Lots of things went wrong… Lots [clap] Of [clap] Things! As we started playing some crazy games with lots of running around I noticed a couple of the students were feeling dizzy. They were also losing color in their faces. I went to go grab them juice to get their blood sugar back up and gave it to them. Within 5 seconds of this student chugging the juice, that same juice decided to come back out into this world and all over me. As that happened other students were watching and it turned into the carnival scene from The Sandlot. Please Google that scene if you don’t know it (or maybe just use your imagination).

As we started cleaning up that mess we saw that we were missing multiple kids. They decided to leave and to go to the mall that was a couple of blocks over. Luckily one of the students had a cell phone and PICKED up! They said they weren’t going to come back. We ended up calling their parents and they were furious with me and my team. 

After that whole ordeal got sorted out around midnight, we decided to go into worship. As we were finally getting centered and calming down one of my leaders said, “Hey there are 6 cop cars outside and a police helicopter. I think something bad is happening across the street.” So we went into our lockdown procedures and we started hearing banging on our doors. We got everyone into a small room and I realized one of my leaders was not there. I went searching for him but I also brought a bat in my hand as a “just in case”. I went outside to see what was going on. My leader was handcuffed and on the ground. The cops immediately see me with bat in hand and draw their weapons and tell me to put the bat down and to get on the ground. I chucked the bat and laid down. I was so confused with what was going on. The cops then asked me questions as I was laying face down on the sidewalk. I told them who I was and what was going on. The Sergeant said, “We had neighbors call in that they heard violent noises coming from the inside and they also heard teenagers yelling “Help me, I can’t move”. (Note to self: don’t play freeze tag at 11:30pm.)

The cops walked into the church saw 40+ students, laughed, and said, “Good luck.” After that I told the students, “Time to go to bed”. I threw away all of the others plans we had for the night because I dropped the ball and basically failed. I was ashamed and thought I would never do a 30 Hour Famine again. I sat with all the bad feels that night.

The next morning when we all woke up after the whirlwind of the night, the students wanted to have solo silent time. They decided that they wanted to spend quiet time with God. I was completely blown away! Then at 11:00am the students all started helping in the kitchen as we prepared our noon victory meal. As we made Pasta, some of the students said, “Wow last night was crazy! I love Youth Group!!!” and “I’m so excited for the next one of these!” Again I was in shock. I thought I did damage to these kids, but luckily God is in charge. I dropped the ball so many times during this event but I can honestly say GOD was in control. Sometimes we go through crazy things so that we can be sharpened, humbled, and stretched. I know I approach every event differently now because of how GOD stretched me during that first Famine event.

So noon hits, and kids started scarfing their food… and let me tell you it basically turned into the blueberry pie scene from Stand By Me. Please Google that scene if you don’t know it (or maybe just use your imagination)!

A Very Different Famine

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Britt Martin

We did it! We made it through Easter! We successfully (hopefully) created environments for our community to experience and celebrate the grace, love, forgiveness, hope, and peace found in the resurrection of Jesus.

Holy Week is always a wild week in the life of ministry leaders. This year, at my church, Holy Week came the week after a Spring Break Mission Trip and four weeks after a Disciple Now weekend. We had a youth local missions day on Good Friday, an Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, and a huge Easter Breakfast for Youth on Sunday morning. Now this week we dive right back into our regularly scheduled programming heading towards a busy summer. It’s so easy for me to find myself in these long crazy seasons of programming (some dictated by the church calendar, and some because of my poor planning) where it seems like there’s one big event after another and never ending to-do-lists on top of family demands and the everyday tasks life throws our way. It’s a little embarrassing, but sometimes when I find myself in these places I can’t remember the last time I prayed. I can’t remember the last time I read scripture for myself and not for a lesson I was going to teach teenagers. Sometimes when I find myself in these seasons I feel like a zombie just going through the motions. I feel like I’m under all sorts of pressure to create the perfect event that draws a high number of students that stays within budget. Sometimes that pressure feels crushing.

Have you been there? Maybe it’s just me (but I don’t think it is). In times like this it feels like my SOUL is experiencing a famine. It feels like all that matters are the things I produce. It’s in times like when (even though sometimes I don’t realize it) I’m in desperate need of Sabbath. I spent years thinking that Sabbath was just going to church or not doing any work on Sunday.  The longer I do this stuff the more I realize that Sabbath is much more.

In the story of scripture, the Israelites practiced Sabbath as a subversive act against those that enslaved them. They took a day each week to gather, to rest (even though slaves don’t get an off day), to sing psalms, and to hear the story of their people and their God. They took this day to remind themselves that their worth wasn’t measured by the amount of bricks they produced. Their worth was measured by the fact that they were children of God. They practiced this Sabbath God gave them not just as an act of subversion against their oppressors, but as a practice necessary for survival—to make it through the next week.

We may not be under Egyptian, Babylonian, or Roman oppression, but for me, sometimes I become a slave to the programs of my ministry. It’s in those seasons I find it SO necessary to get away, spend some quiet time with God, and hear the story that reminds me my value doesn’t come from how many kids I can get to sign up for the mission trip or how cool that stage design is. My worth (and yours) comes from the fact that I’m a child of God.

Sometimes Great Ministry Means Taking One More Step Forward

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Russ Polsgrove

A few years ago my friend hiked Mount Kilimanjaro. He told me two things about his trip:

  1. The view at the end of the trail is much better than the view at the beginning.
  2. Toward the end it’s quite frustrating. No matter how wide your steps, the rocks slide under your feet, so you only gain a few inches every time.

Ministry sometimes feels like that.

10 years ago, the high school ministry position at our church was vacant. As the middle school pastor, part of my job was to work with interim staff and a few volunteers to keep the ministry moving. A big breakup between a couple in the youth ministry had caused a major rift in the social dynamic of the group, and we scrambled to put something together that would be a bonding experience for the teenagers in our church.

So we hastily put together an overnight event. We should have taken more time to plan it, but we felt desperate, and wanted to get everyone in a room together just to spend time with each other. We went to a minor league hockey game in town. While we are all sitting together, a small group of teenagers snuck away from our group, went outside the arena and were barred from re-entering by security. We tried to play some group games in the middle of the night that resulted in a screaming match between four or our students. The HVAC unit went on the fritz, so we fluctuated between sweltering heat and freezing cold. When we look back on that event, we laugh. We joke about what a disaster it was.

It’s funny now, but it was terrifying at the time. It felt like a failure. And when something I do feels like a failure, I feel like a failure. The ministry felt like it was in shambles. Our interim HS guy, who had been a volunteer for years, thought there was no coming back. The week after, we had the smallest crowd in the history of our high school ministry, and we felt personally responsible for it. We didn’t know where to go from there.

Then the next week came. And the next. And our ministry slowly started to find its footing. It’s been 10 years, and our high school ministry is stronger than it’s ever been. Now, I could give you all types of metrics to show you why it’s stronger than it’s ever been, but I’d rather tell you stories.

  • I want to tell you about that interim director—at the time a volunteer working a day job at a machine shop in town—who now oversees our entire family ministry staff, while still being the point person for high school ministry. He’s the best youth pastor I know.
  • I can give you a name of a student that was AT THAT VERY EVENT who now works as a youth pastor in another city. She was one of the ones that kept everything together when it felt like everything was falling apart.
  • I can tell you how excited I am about officiating 4 weddings for former students who live, love, and serve because of their faith.
  • I can give you names of 25 students who have asked us for recommendation letters to work at summer camps to share the story of Jesus with children.

In retrospect, I don’t know if I’d consider that one event a failure. It didn’t go well. We should have done things differently. But we moved forward, and sometimes that’s all you need. A willingness to act. Not one day, or for one event, but repeatedly move in the same direction. It may feel like you’re taking steps backwards. At times you probably are, but if you have a commitment to keep walking forward, you’re going to look back and celebrate. The view at the end of the trail is much more beautiful than the view at the beginning.