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The Famine Blog

Let them fight!

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Sean Garner

Doppio ammasso di stelle nella costellazione del PerseoA long, long, time ago (when I was young and hip) in a church far, far away (from where I’m serving now), my wife and I were invited to house sit and “teen” sit for a family of four boys.

Of course, over the weekend an argument began that transformed, as was normal for them, into a ten minute wrestling match. Then, they walked away…content with their conflict resolution.

It is strange and confusing that God built IN us the tendency to fight.

Everyone does it in their own way…

Some of us, like these boys, wrestle our way through life.

Others fight for an issue.

Many of us are constantly wrestling internally with our thoughts, feelings or God’s work in our lives.

So, this year, with 30 Hour Famine, it’s time to allow yourself to embrace the FIGHT.

Don’t worry about avoiding the awkwardness of letting your group express what they’re frustrated, angry or fighting against in their life as a PART of your discussion (not as a distraction).

Soon, you’ll find (like Israel) your kids are looking for a champion (David), as they’re full of fear from a world that is big, bold, bragging and broken (like Goliath).

That kind of authenticity changes people. Being able to share their world opens their hearts to being able to change someone else’s world. Sometimes sharing facts or figures is the way to change a group’s perspective, but this year God has opened the door for you to aim right for their HEART.

Dig into YOUR passion book: what builds up a righteous anger in your life?

How do you fight: fair, unfair, cheap shots? How do you train for a fight?

How do respond when you lose a fight?

How do you cheer or jeer when you win a fight?

All of that is a great storehouse to bring out teaching about fighting hunger alongside World Vision.

With the opportunity that this year’s theme provides, dig deep into your world and help your group dig deeper into theirs to FIGHT the FIGHT!

So What Happens Next?

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Tash McGill

One Tree HillI live in the valley under One Tree Hill, in Auckland, New Zealand. Yes, the one from that U2 song and nothing to do with the TV show. I was born on the side of this mountain, grew up in its shadow and I always return to it as soon as I can after I’ve been away.  Once a week I climb to the top where I can see the oceans and the land that surrounds me.

It’s my weekly ritual of reflection and preparation before the week ahead. I stare out on the view I’ve known all my life and out to the ocean beyond the harbour I know as safe. Because the mountaintop is the place I go to imagine and prepare for the future, I wonder often, sitting there ‘what happens next?

Here’s what I’ve learned at the top of the mountain. You can see the view but you don’t feel it the same way as if you were standing right there – on the sandy beach or in the water. On the hot city streets or in the shadow of a city tower – when I go to the top of the mountain, I can see the city but I stop experiencing it’s reality for a moment. In order to engage with it, I have to go back down.

Being on the mountaintop orients us. It gives us a view of where we are, but from a distance. We are slightly removed from the city up close and personal. It’s like a compass to decide the way forward, but you have to come on down the mountain in order to keep moving on.

How do you orient yourself after an event like the 30 Hour Famine? How do you move on? For me, it’s similar to reconnecting with the city. Once I’ve seen her from a distance, then I need to go and feel her warmth, experience her ocean, walk on her sand.

Big events, camps, mission trips and even Famine weekends can be just like mountaintop experiences. It’s hard work to get to the top but from there, you can see everything you’ve accomplished. The adrenaline buzz can feel pretty good too.

When you journey through something like the Famine as a group or as an individual, choose to orient yourself to something you can keep engaging with – whether it’s regular acts of generosity, sacrifice or service.

Great experiences should leave some sort of mark, change or habit with us. Maybe it’s just new language or a commitment to pay attention to poverty issues but we have the opportunity as leaders to integrate our Famine experiences into part of our regular shared stories.

So for those of you who have just finished the 30 Hour Famine – where are you going next? How will you engage with the view you got at the top of the mountain? And for those of you just about to get underway… pay attention when you get to the top. Set your sights on where you’re going next.

5 Reasons to Apply for the Study Tour

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

Abby_StudyTourThere are hundreds of reason why you should apply for the Study Tour – Or, if you’re a leader – why you should encourage, nudge & inspire your students to do so. We could go on and on about how we’ve seen it transform their lives (an in turn, the world). But we won’t. We will let you hear instead, from previous Study Tour rock stars:

Lauren, Team Bolivia, 2010: Their capacity to love was endless. I knew meeting these people, seeing their faith, watching the differences being made, that I had to do whatever I could in my power to make a difference, maybe not in their lives but their children and their great grand children’s lives. Jesus Christ gave me this opportunity to look through those children’s eyes, those hardworking mothers and fathers, and see my purpose.

Tiff, Team Zambia, 2012: “Do not abandon us” these were the words of Zambian natives that still echo and influence my life today. The Study Tour challenged me to see the world through God’s lens, expanded my heart of compassion for the poor and saw poverty and hunger as a real problem that I have the potential to change. The Study Tour plucks you right out of your comfort zone to grow and fall more in love with God’s kingdom”

Tess, Team Ethiopia, 2013: “I expected to go on the Study Tour and have my heart broken by what I saw. Instead, an immeasurable amount of joy, happiness, and passion for these people consumed my heart. I’m no longer fighting for children around the world, but people I call friends.”

Preston Goff, Team Burundi, 2011: I believe that by accepting God’s call for me to spend a period of time in Africa, I was also entering into a contract or covenant with the people that I met while in Burundi. I know to this day that I have been charged with a responsibility to all of the people of the Earth who live without social justice.

Adam Sticca, Team Ethiopia, 2013: “As I began to really listen to all of the stories of the people here in Ethiopia, I also began to understand just how their lives have been changed by World Vision… There are beautiful lives, beautiful places, and beautiful people waiting to change everything you think you know about yourself and the world you live in.”

And finally, from former Study Tour participant, Caitlin: The Study Tour is a chance to see what God is up to, listen to people’s stories, and learn about World Vision’s programs. When it’s over, you don’t just pat yourself on the back and continue life as usual, you tell others about what you saw and how they can join the cause. It’s educational and beautiful, and probably nothing like anything your students have done before.

P.S. Applications are due MAY 7 and students must raise $500+ to apply! Watch our promo video and share with your group, here!

5th Day Slump

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Paul Martin

sleeping catIt never fails. Every single weeklong trip I’ve taken with teenagers. Every one. I plan ahead, push for sign-ups, have information meetings, I even schedule the debriefing sessions for after the trip. I rally prayer support, start the trip with a group picture and get the team buzzing with excitement. But, by the afternoon of the fifth day, I’m done. My mind has changed. I no longer think this trip was a good idea. I’m not even sure trips in general are a good idea. Maybe I should just quit.

I don’t know if it can be completely laid at the feet of exhaustion. Certainly I haven’t slept as much as I could have. It also couldn’t be blamed solely on that one person on the trip who has a sixth sense for peace-breaking in my life. Certainly there is an element of spiritual fight going on. These are the thoughts crawling through my mind as I strive toward the goal of finishing strong on so many trips.

It wasn’t until I confessed these feelings to a fellow youth worker that I found release. It turns out, through many similar confessions, I’m not the only one to have the Thursday afternoon slump. After being encouraged from several conversations with youth workers, I’ve come to realize that most of the people I was leading on these trips also felt that despondent pull of doubt come Thursday. This understanding changed the way I lead mission trips forever.

I started small in my changes. The next trip I planned a Thursday lunch break. We loaded everyone into our vehicles and went for ice cream. It wasn’t a major event, but it sure felt like a big deal. It helped our team press through the afternoon sinkhole of energy. The next trip I took it farther. We had our ice cream and later in the day, a surprise visit from another team. Another trip we had a water balloon sneak attack on another group, which was very welcome in the heat of South Georgia pounding out everyone’s energy. Every trip after that, I always tried to have a special surprise sometime between Thursday lunch and later that night.

I also realize that my connection suffered during these trips. All of my support was miles away. To remedy that, I try to take at least ten minutes to call someone Wednesday night. It’s usually my wife or children who are always glad to hear from me. I’ve found that those few minutes help restore my connection for the rest of the trip.

Look, I know I may be pushing my introverted tendencies here. That’s not an excuse. You might be completely energized by trips and never want to leave. If so: good for you. Anyone who has been on one of these trips will know the value of them. We keep doing them because they are so enriching for our groups. Whether you feel the Thursday morning blues or not, talking to other people will only deepen our experiences from these trips. You can also help others on your trips by breaking up the monotony of the mid-outing stall out.

A prayer for you.

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

IMG_667430 Hour Famine Team

Starting TODAY, 1,700 churches and tens of thousands of teenagers will have their last meal for 30 whole hours. As one student said last year during her fast: “As our stomachs grow emptier, Jesus grows more abundant.” – Tess Cassidy, Ohio. That is our hope for your group as well.

Thank you again to all who are making hunger YOUR fight this weekend! We ask that you lift each other up in support & prayer, and know that our team is doing the same – along with our colleagues at World Vision! As you can see in the photo, we have posted the names of specific churches all around our buildings so you’re your brothers and sisters at World Vision (Seattle, WA), can pray for you by name.

With that, we will leave you with this benediction.

Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this week in love to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. 

Amen.

4 things you need to know for National 30HF Weekend!

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

We are 3 DAYS AWAY from the first 30 hour Famine National Weekend of 2015! If you are one of the 1,700+ groups (nearly 45K students!), joining us this weekend, we have a few important & exciting things to keep in mind.

IMG_6654

4 things you need to know for the National Weekend:

1. Right now, text 30HF to 44888. Why? For the first time ever, we will be sending out a few updates, encouragements, & photos via text! (They’re fun, we promise)

2. Preview our brand new video playlist & share with your students!

3. Theme-focused bible study! (Video & printable version online)

4. Famine Moment photo contest…send your favorite photo of the weekend to hhilpert@worldvision.org for a chance to be featured in next year’s materials! Hilary (our social gal) will also be living online this weekend and will be on the look-out for #30HF and #30hourfamine, & will be re-posting to our Facebook page!

Thank you for standing together and inviting your students into the business of changing of the world! If you are not participating this weekend, please join us in praying for the leaders and students who will be going hungry!

P.S. If you missed our blog post earlier this month (we forgive you), here are the full details.

Thank you for Making Hunger Your Fight.

How Much Love, part 2

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

How Much Love

By Shawn Kiger

I love Brian Mateer’s blog post from earlier this week, about his trip to Haiti and experiencing God’s grace. He wrote, “Grace is God’s gift of FREE love and it extends to all people in all places. The awareness of grace can be experienced anywhere, but this has most frequently be revealed to me on mission trips or through programs like the 30 Hour Famine when I have a greater awareness of the blessings of my life.”

This statement sums up why I love taking youth on mission trips and participating in the 30 Hour Famine. When we’re taken out of our comfort zone I have found we tend to be more open to and aware of God’s love around us.  I think this is because we’re joining in the work that God is doing in the world.  When we’re in our normal everyday lives we frequently have blinders on, only focusing on the next task at hand.  But somehow those blinders are taken off when we get outside of our routines and comforts while on a mission trip.

Last summer I witnessed this on a weeklong mission trip I led with youth in Washington, DC. We worked at many soup kitchens and visited organizations working to end hunger. One of the teenagers that attended was an 11th grade boy that I didn’t know really well.  His brother attended our youth ministry, and I had seen him a few times, but he was not active in the program.  I could tell at the beginning of the week that he was very uncomfortable interacting with homeless people.  But slowly, throughout the week, something was changing in him.

During our closing worship at the end of the week, the young man told the group that he only came on the trip to get the community service hours he needed for school.  He had never talked to a homeless person before and was normally scared of them. But that the week taught him that they are people too, and they deserve love and respect. He is still up in the air about his faith but I could see he was experiencing God’s grace and love, both to the people he was serving and for himself.

As Brian wrote in the previous 30 Hour Famine blog post, “In Haiti I was once again reminded that whether you live in the United States, Haiti or anywhere else in the world, God’ grace reaches all.” When we take youth on mission trips we help them see just that. God loves homeless people and the 11th grade boy who’s not sure how he feels about God. God loves them equally. And whether that 11th grade guy knows it or not, he has experienced Jesus saying “I love you right up to the moon and back!

How Much Love?

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Brian Mateer

Guess_How_Much_I_love_youIn January, I had the chance to go to Haiti for the first time.  I had been longing to go lend a helping hand in Haiti since the devastating earthquake in 2010.  A few days short of the five year anniversary of the earthquake, I finally had the opportunity to fulfill a calling to reach out to the “least of these” in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Having been to several countries in Central America and having visited the Dominican Republic the year prior I felt Haiti would feel similar to other countries in this region.  As expected, I witnessed extreme poverty, an economy lacking infrastructure and people in great need.  Also, as expected, I found Northern Haiti to be beautiful, having wonderful people with a deep faith and seeking opportunities to better their lives and the lives of their family.

On the second day in Haiti we were scheduled to visit an orphanage and monastery operated by several brothers from India and the Philippines.  Upon entering the gate of the orphanage the first thing I noticed was a young man on a motorized wheelchair with a GIANT smile on his face.  The young man’s name was Weldon.  Our group was told that this was the first time that Weldon had been out of his room on his own for years.  Weldon had no use of his legs and very limited use of his arms and hands.  Before receiving the wheelchair, Weldon had to be carried anywhere he went.  With such little use of his hands this was the first time in his life Weldon was able to experience the freedom of going where he chose to go.

Continuing past Weldon to the areas where other individuals were housed, we passed adults and children of varying degrees and types of disabilities.  The deeper we went in the compound the more uncomfortable I became and the more difficult the situations.  One such wing in the monastery was reserved for children with HIV. Another area was designated to older adults. Finally, the last room we toured was a room for infants.  Wall to wall were cribs of children housed in the orphanage.  Some with disabilities others without.  I did not get far into the room before I became overcome with emotion and left the room.

Walking back toward the gate through which we entered we were shown the cafeteria, chapel and we toured the guest house reserved for individuals and groups that volunteer at the monastery.  As I walked through the common area in the guesthouse I glanced down at an end table and noticed a children’s book.  As I looked closer my knees became weak as I read the title of the book-“Guess How Much I Love You” written by Sam McBratney.  This very same book I have read numerous times to my daughters.

Since this day I have been processing this experience and have been asking God to reveal to me what I am to learn and share.  I can’t help but think about God’ grace.  Grace is God’s gift of FREE love and it extends to all people in all places. The awareness of grace can be experienced anywhere, but this has most frequently be revealed to me on missions trips or through programs like the 30 Hour Famine when I have a greater awareness of the blessings of my life.

In Haiti I was once again reminded that whether you live in the United States, Haiti or anywhere else in the world God’ grace reaches all. If you are a rich or poor, God’s love is within our grasp.  If you are able-bodied to participate in God’s work or if you are like Weldon and rely on others for most everything, you are equally loved by God.

The last words of “Guess How Much I Love You” are “I love you right up to the moon and back.”  Jesus extends this same love to me, to Weldon and to you also.

Introducing The New Youth Mobilization Director, Nikki Myers

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

Quick note from the Famine Team:  Hey Famine Leaders! You will recognize this gal. Nikki has been an integral part of the “Famine Family” for last 3 years, serving leaders and students as our Outreach Manager. Throughout her time on our team, she has blown us away time and time again with her dedication & genuine love for youth, her passion for World Vision’s mission, and her spirit of service. We are beyond thrilled to be led by Nikki as we enter a new, exciting phase of our youth programs. Get ready for awesomeness.

–The Famine Team


 

By Nikki Myers

nikki el salvMy journey with World Vision started when I was 12. I went to a small Christian school and someone came and talked to us about global issues, poverty and child sponsorship. I gathered a few of my best friends together and we all decided to contribute $5/month to sponsor a child from Ethiopia. This didn’t surprise my mom much. From the age of 5 I had this unexplainable fascination with Ethiopia; I promised her I was going to go there and name my future daughter after the country. Fast forward 20 years and I had the chance to visit the beautiful country with our 2013 Study Tour students. I am sure we all have those humbling, thoughtful moments of “how did all this happen” “how did I get here,” that is how I felt in Ethiopia and still do on a pretty regular basis.

Never in a million years did I anticipate there would be a job that combined my passion for justice and interest in development with my love for working with young people and background in marketing. But I seemed to have found just that.

I could not be more excited to be leading the Youth Mobilization team. Our team has such a passion for serving you with resources, ideas, programs and opportunities to connect young people to the world around them and to see the heart of God through loving our neighbors. It is our desire to serve you, to challenge you and provide an avenue to equip young people to be the change makers they are.

I am excited for what is in store for our team and the ways we can continue to support, resource and serve you better! Now, about that future daughter of mine named Ethiopia…

Programming Through the Lens of Values

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Emily Robbins

Cool Cat #3About three weeks ago, I stood up in front of our Church Council to make a report about what is happening in the youth ministry.  I looked at all of the expectant faces and I said, “There are a lot of amazing things happening these days in our youth ministry but before I tell you about them – I have to tell you – our youth are tired and overwhelmed with responsibility.  This morning before Sunday School when I asked teenagers how they were – each responded with, ‘I am tired’.

I believe that it is my job as their Youth Minister to help them find ways to say no, to slow down and to not offer too many opportunities here at the church that they feel they have to or want to attend.  I can tell you now that our church has a different opportunity for our youth to participate in every weekend in February.  Every weekend.  Are we helping them and their families or hurting them by having so much to do?  I don’t have the answers to all of this but I want to ask all of you to please be in prayer with me as I, along with the youth leadership, figure this out…”

When I look at our schedule and I try to discern what amazing ministries to include and which ones to get rid of – it is often hard because there are many amazing opportunities for our teens to experience Christ’s love.  But we just can’t say yes to them all.

How do you decide which ones to include in your schedule?

Here are a few values that are important to me as we decide which activities to say yes to.

  1. Interest – Do the youth want to do it?  I ask them.  I let them give input.  I may still decide to try something that they are hesitant about but that’s when it’s our job to get them excited about the unknown.  We have to be excited about it ourselves as well!
  2. Sacrifice – I love it when our teenagers learn to give beyond themselves.  That they realize that they can sacrifice and don’t hesitate to do it again.  Whether they are teaching, listening, painting, fasting, praying – find ways for them get a little uncomfortable!  It’s life changing!
  3. Fun and laughter – they are teenagers right?  This happens no matter what.  But I try to be intentional to give them down time and games.  And I want to have opportunities to laugh and play with them.
  4. Time to reflect – some of my favorite ministry moments have happened when I just ask them to share what they are taking away from a conversations or an experience.  It’s amazing what is really going on inside those hearts and heads. Definitely create space to ask them!!!
  5. Prayer – We try to create many prayer moments for our youth to participate in – prayer stations, one word prayers, prayer journaling, etc.  It is amazing to watch the Holy Spirit move and change our teens through prayer.
  6. Service – I try to find many chances for them to offer service in multiple different ways inside our church and in our community.  I’m hoping to get even more creative with this one – because they have passions that I haven’t even thought of!
  7. Relationship – this one is key for me. I would like my youth and my adults to grow in relationship because of their experiences with our youth ministry.  Grow in relationship with each other and with God.  Luckily, relationships grow even during a shaving cream fight.
  8. Schedule.  Even if its not my favorite event – if it fits our schedule and the youth really want to do it, then we will go.

The youth leadership decided not to participate in two of the February weekend activities after the Church Council meeting a few weekends ago.  I am very proud of them for looking at all of the different choices and for making the hard decision to say no to a few things.  I also feel a sense of peace myself as we prepare for the others things that we are going to participate in.  And I can’t WAIT to see how they incorporate many of the values listed above into our 30 Hour Famine at the end of the month!