By Danny Kwon
I didn’t realize it until last year, but we have done the 30 Hour Famine every year except one, which was the first year it existed. So this will be our 25th year doing it. Actually, I didn’t even realize our group started doing it in its second year of existence. For our volunteers and myself, we just found what we thought was a great idea—to have teenagers fast for 30 hours—and we were off. However, over the years, there are a few things that I have done consistently, that have made the Famine great for us. Here are my top three tips. I hope these will help as you plan your Famine event.
First, read over ALL the 30 Hour Famine materials. I say this because as you are busy planning your event, you may think you don’t have time. Or you have your own great ideas and don’t want to read all the materials. In my early years of doing the Famine, I had some pretty good ideas. However, in about the 5th year, I really sat down after the Famine materials were sent, and realized that there was some good stuff there too. There are some great ideas, ideas from other youth groups, and some really good activities and videos. Frankly, I don’t use all the materials every year. Some years are better as far as fit and plans for our youth group. In those years, we plan out most of our event around the activities and materials sent to us. In other years, we have diverged and planned out most of the Famine ourselves. One side note to this, you DO NOT have do use the Famine materials just during the Famine. In some years, we have done a little each week in our mid-week meetings. Other times, I have used some of the videos as illustrations for sermons. Ultimately, the material is great and I encourage to look through it each year and use it (or not) as you see fit.
Second, I encourage you to think about doing a service activity along with the 30 Hour Famine. I know it is daunting to think about hungry teenagers going and serving while they are fasting. However, I just think it makes the whole experience of “hunger” more real for them. In recent years, our group has been part of delivering meals to families during the Famine. In other years, we have actually had to prepare and cook food while fasting. Again, this may sound crazy, but I think it makes the fasting more real for our teenagers. Another side note to dong a service project: sometimes it does take some effort to find a place to serve. However, why not consider your own church and congregation too. Every few years, our youth group offers to stay at our church and seek ways we can help our own church and congregation. And come on, please tell me, what Senior Pastor is going to say “no” to their youth group if you ask “how can we serve our church?”
Finally, use the Famine as an “event” that plugs into or is a foundation for year ‘round service and missions. I say this about short-term missions as well as the 30 Hour Famine. They have become one in the same for our youth group. They are not just once a year activities. They have become foundational aspects of nurturing in our teenagers a heart of life long service and missions. If your teenagers just see it as a once a year thing, then it will be just a once a year. But I view the Famine as an opportunity to start or begin to build in our teenagers a heart for service and missions all year. Ultimately, that is what I have loved best about the Famine. It has slowly but steadily been used by God to build a ministry where service and missions is a foundation to our group.
Note from the Famine team: This coming weekend is the first 30 Hour Famine National Date, and hundreds of groups across the country are hosting their events. We want to make sure you know a couple things: First, we are praying for you (really – by name). And second, we are available to you if you need any help or have questions – just call 800.7FAMINE.