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The Famine Blog

Embrace the Routine

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Travis Hill

beautifull woman taking a deep breath at the sunsetAt some point during the summer I told myself, “Man, I can’t wait for school to start again.” Then people began asking me if I was nervous or excited for the new school year, which I was a bit of both, but then our back-to-school kickoff arrived. That last Wednesday in August came and went, and there I understood I was back where I belonged. Much like you know, summer is a perfect season to intentionally spend more time with students. They have more time off, so we should capitalize on that. However, as an introvert, the constant week-to-week activities can wear me down like none other. Needless to say, I was quite ready for school to start. I craved the routine that came with a weekly planning session, a weekly sermon, and a weekly gathering of students.

Despite the praying, reading, and writing involved to craft a sermon, despite the battles with Photoshop and iMovie to make announcements come alive, despite the futility of getting all of the information you need from a middle schooler in one text message to register them for an event, the weekly work is where I thrive. And it’s not because I have a set schedule, but rather I can take time out of my day and focus on God exclusively. I can take an hour to pray and write, to think and meditate. This seems strange, right? I should be making time for God every day. But when I get bogged down in the summer, I slump a bit and find my solitude better spent napping.

Thomas Merton wrote, “The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not something to be known and studied; it is to be lived. Like all life, it grows sick and dies when it is uprooted from its proper element.” It took me a while to realize my proper element was a daily process of reading, meditating, and writing. Over the last year, I spent the first part of my morning, before anyone else comes into the office, connecting with God through words. Not only do I write out my own thoughts, but I pen prayers to God. And more often than not I have found in this process the direction I needed to be heading that day. More often than not, it wasn’t the direction I intended, but rather the direction that God sent me.

I don’t know your church background or where you are now, but I only really discovered and sought after the spiritual disciplines in the last few years. Terms like: praying the hours, lectio divina, solitude, meditation, silence, fasting, sabbath, and soul friendship always felt strange to me. But over the years I have learned from myself that my soul craves these. My heart needs silence and solitude. When you’re with students a lot, and your heart breaks for them and the struggles they go through, it’s easy to take all of that fear and pain home. But sometimes your heart is telling you that it needs a break, to get away from all of that hurt. Daily, I need to shut everything out to meditate and write. How can I ever find God if there is no space in me? How can I find the direction I need to go if I’m filling my day with so much stuff and not enough God?

Despite my love of weekly meetings, sometimes the routine breaks me as well. It is easy to get in a rut week-to-week, too. We write, think, plan, outreach and then rinse and repeat for the next week. It is also in these spaces where I find I need God to help center and direct me. Trusting that God will speak to and lead me is merely the seed by which beauty blooms. Merton wrote once again that,

“Faith alone can give us the light to see that God’s will is to be found in our everyday life. Without this light, we cannot see to make the right decisions. Without this certitude we cannot have supernatural confidence and peace. We stumble and fall constantly even when we are most enlightened.”

Find your balance. Try new things, new ways to connect with Christ, but do so intentionally. Do so with the idea that this spiritual life of ours should not be boiled down to staff meetings, crazy games, email lists, and calendar events, but rather a wholehearted focus on where the Spirit is leading us. Find that place your soul seeks.

 

A Newbie Perspective on the Impact of World Vision

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Cody Petersen

costume indigeno sudamericanoI am a World Vision newbie. What I mean by that is that my interaction with World Vision as an organization consisted of looking at a 30 Hour Famine website for around 15 minutes because I had a friend in ministry that mentioned it to me. So when I was given the opportunity to accompany some other ministry leaders on a Vision Trip to Ecuador, I had a variety of feelings and emotions that I encountered at the same time. I was over the top excited because I was being given the opportunity to travel to another country. I was confused because having no interaction or previous partnership with World Vision, I wasn’t sure why I was selected to go. I was also a little bit skeptical because I had no clue what World Vision was all about or what I was getting myself into.

My goal on our Vision Trip to Ecuador was to learn as much as possible about World Vision, how they work, how they partner with different countries and communities, and what my options were as far as partnering with them goes. As we entered Ecuador I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the country and God’s creation. I was overwhelmed with the hospitality of our hosts and the love and kindness that was shown to us by each community that we came in contact with. Most of all, I was overwhelmed with the way that God is using World Vision to make a difference in Ecuador on a national level and individually within each community.

We were able to meet with some of World Vision’s national directors on our first day and they expressed their purpose in everything they did with World Vision. This purpose was broken down into three points: Worship through service, Mutual Transformation, and Hope. Over the course of our week in Ecuador, I was able to see this vision manifested in the communities that we visited. It was evident through each Area Development Project that we visited the real life changes that were happening in each community, but also in many individuals within those communities. The communities had a dream for what they wanted to accomplish to strengthen their communities, and World Vision was able to come alongside them and not only serve them, but also serve side by side with them. Because of the ownership given to each community, the changes that happen in those communities are completely sustained in the long term by the communities themselves. Instead of giving help then leaving the people right where they were when they started, World Vision gives them the tools and resources to sustain the changes and thrive on their own once World Vision ends a project. This process fulfills the purpose of World Vision that I mentioned earlier and helps to change REAL PEOPLE from the inside out.

One person that we met along the way was named Nicolasa. Her story hit me hard because it is a familiar story, as I have friends struggling with the same thing. She is unable to have children but was the resident midwife for her community, delivering all the babies in the community. There was a real problem with losing mothers and babies due to poor nutrition and not having the proper training to deliver these babies. So in partnering with World Vision and also the national government, Nicolasa was able to receive the training she needed to better help the mothers and children of her community. She was able to teach pregnant mothers how to take care of themselves and their babies by eating right and not over working. She was able to receive better training to help with the delivering of the babies. She was also able to receive spiritual healing from the pain of not being able to have children on her own. When she was telling her story, a few things that she said resounded with me. She said that she went from struggling with the pain of not being able to have children to feeling like she had many children because of the relationships she was able to develop with the mothers and babies in her community. She also said that God provided her with a child of her own when a mother abandoned a baby that she in turn raised as her own child. It was absolutely amazing to see how God worked through Nicolasa, World Vision, and even the government to make this all happen and help strengthen this small community.

I came away from the trip inspired and eager to do whatever I can to partner with World Vision and the real people that they are partnering with every day in communities all over the world. It was refreshing to see that all the resources they receive as an organization make it to these communities and are impacting the lives of real people. I wish that I could share more stories of people that we encountered while in Ecuador and the communities that are being changed there, but that would be a book instead of a blog post. Whether you are like me and are a World Vision newbie, or you have been partnering with World Vision for many years, know that through the work of World Vision, the lives of real people are being impacted for the better and real communities of people are growing and thriving. I would encourage anyone to partner with World Vision whether it is through supporting a child, fundraising through a 30 Hour Famine, or simply spending time in prayer each day. I can say from personal experience that you are not only helping to better people physically, socially, and spiritually, but you will walk away from your experience changed as well. Like we learned on our first day, this truly is a partnership where everyone benefits through being able to worship and serve alongside each other, having that mutual transformation of our lives from the inside out, and by sharing the hope that we have all received through Jesus Christ with those around us.

 

The End of the World

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Jake Kircher

With the reboot of Left Behind, the Internet has been abuzz with articles about the end of the world from Christianity Today, Relevant Magazine and others. It quickly brought me back to my own days in high school and college, along with all the debates my friends and I would have about when the rapture would happen, if we were currently in the end times or not; and if so, whether we were currently dealing with scrolls, trumpets or bowls. I was excited to dive into some of these debates again with my current group of students.  However, things didn’t quite go as planned…

As we held a movie night to watch the original Left Behind movie with our group last week, I was pretty surprised by my student’s reactions. First, almost none of them had heard about the rapture before and they were both confused and shocked when the movie portrayed that. Second, when I explained in a bit more detail what the rapture was and how it fit into the Left Behind interpretation of Scripture, the majority of the students thought it sounded ridiculous. “People don’t really believe that, do they?” one of my students asked me. And third, as I explained a few other perspectives and beliefs about the End Times, my students just ultimately didn’t care about the specifics.

Hazy Sunrise in the SmokiesThis was such a far cry from 15-20 years ago when it seemed like all Christians had heard about the rapture, and the bigger question was whether you were pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib. As I processed our movie night and conversation the couple of days after, it dawned on me the slow shift I have seen over the last decade where students are asking less and less about the specifics of End Times theology. Yet another consequence of the shift to a post-Christian world where students have no context of Revelations and end of the world prophesies.

As I talked with more students throughout the week, and as we dove in the topic of where our world is heading in this past Sunday’s sermon, my optimistic-self landed on the conclusion that I think this shift is actually a good thing.

First, on the Biblical front, my students only really cared about the generalities of what the end of the world would bring. All they wanted to know was that Jesus would be coming back, at a time that no one knew, and that when he did come back he would judge the world based on a relationship with him and then he would make all things new. That’s it. And honestly, isn’t that what is most important in the whole story of Revelations anyways? Jesus is coming back and it could be any moment. Am I living in a way that reflects that I am ready and that helps others to be ready as well?

Second, when it came to specifics, my students cared more about the things happening in the world right now: Ebola, ISIS, world hunger, clean water, sex trafficking, etc., than they cared about any potential tribulation. It was almost this attitude of, why debate about what might happen when we can spend our time debating about what we can do concerning the things happening right now. That for sure was an attitude I wasn’t going to argue with for one second!

When it comes down to it, does it even matter what we all believe about the specifics of what Revelations predicts? The bottom line is that Jesus is going to come back and stuff is going to go down. Our job is simply to be his witnesses here on earth until that point, and that means living in a way that everyday brings Jesus’s kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.  I, for one, am excited that my students pushed me in this direction this past week. It gives me pride to be a youth worker and makes me want to do everything I can to get behind this generation to making a dent in the issues they are passionate about solving. And I hope that you feel the same way.

Fanatics of Hope

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

Nikki Myers, 30 Hour Famine Team

ESTA FOTOGRAFIA TIENE DERECHO DE AUTORI recently took a trip to Ecuador with some 30 Hour Famine Youth Leaders. We had the opportunity to meet with the World Vision Ecuador staff. We started our time with the National Director who shared about his vision for the country and for utilizing World Vision staff to bring hope to the communities of Ecuador. One particular phrase jumped out at me as I furiously took notes… “As Christians we must be fanatics of hope.

Hope. It’s a word we use all the time…

“I hope you have a good day”

“Hope I can make it on time”

“Hope the Seahawks win this weekend”

Fanatics of hope.

This phrase stuck with me, in fact it plagued me. What does that mean… am I that? This sounds more serious than hoping my phone stays charged. How does that go in line with what we are here to do? But as the week progressed, I began to see fanatics of hope all around me.

I met World Vision field staff and community leaders who worked tirelessly to bring hope to their communities. One in particular was a young woman, Nicholosa. Nicholosa was a very quiet, humble woman with a heart nearly visible. She is unable to have children herself but felt called to caring for children. So she was trained by World Vision and the Department of Health as a midwife. Their community was hours from a town and subsequently a hospital. So, when women are unable to make it to town Nicholosa steps in. I had the best kale omelet of my life as Nicholosa shared about teaching the community about nutrients needed for pregnant mothers and their children.  Nicholosa is a fanatic of hope.

I met a Pastor who felt called to move to a new community and start a church. This new community struggled with poverty, malnutrition and jobs for the families living there. He attended a World Vision pastor training as well as a training on starting small business. As a result, he rallied the women of the congregation and through World Vision they were able to start a cheese business, guinea pig farm and vegetable garden. The women now grow their own food, plus enough to sell in a market to earn a small income. He was a fanatic of hope… and now the community is flourishing (and so are those guinea pigs).

As youth leaders you all are fanatics of hope. You invest in students who might never say thanks. You rarely, if ever, turn off your phone and close your door to their needs. You answer questions and share your refrigerators with students yearning to be known. You bring hope to students who are looking for their place in the world. Further, when you do the 30 Hour Famine, World Vision is able to bring hope to communities that are struggling to flourish. Opportunity for women and children, proper nutrition and prenatal care and the gospel message. You are a fanatic of hope.

 

Shifting from Other to Friend

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Brad Hauge

TJ RoadEarly last April I made a walk that many youth pastors have made over the years as I walked from our mission trip host site (in our case an orphanage) to one of our work sites (home building in Tijuana). What set this particular walk apart was the fact that along the half mile stretch of road I was stopped at least four times by those in the neighborhood I can call friend. There’s the Morales boys at the hardware store, Juan who lives in the blue house our students built for him three years prior, and that one lady whose name I never can quite understand at the store where we get Fresas con Crema (strawberries and cream) far too often. They all either smiled, shouted hello or gave me a hug as I walked past. This is their neighborhood but I, and our entire group, am welcomed each spring as if it is our neighborhood as well.

This isn’t just because of good ol’ fashioned Mexican hospitality, though that totally does exist! Our relationship has evolved from that “group of suburban gringos from Washington State here to help,” to “group of suburban gringos we now call friend,” because our church has been working alongside those in the same neighborhood for over 20 years. Over those 20 years our good intentions have become trusted, our commitment to be good news to their neighborhood has seen real fruit, and the hugs between us have become true embraces because we have chosen not to “mission trip hop” to whatever location we think our students would find most exciting. The promise of consistent relationship has caused both our students in Spokane and our neighbors in Tijuana to move from seeing each other as “other” to seeing each other as friend.

Consistent relationships can and should be an important part of our 30 Hour Famine weekend as well. One of my favorite aspects of the 30 Hour Famine is the encouraged opportunity to use some of those 30 hours to serve your own communities and neighborhoods. If your group hasn’t taken advantage of this encouragement for whatever reason, I suggest you start right away. The goal and focus of the 30 Hour Famine to raise funds and awareness for hunger needs around the world is beautiful and worthy, but has the potential to allow our students the option of simply seeing the needs of the world as “out there.” The 30 hours spent together provides a real opportunity to see the needs and hurts of the people right outside your church’s door. This is an idea the Middle School students at our church here in Spokane have fully embraced year after year. They spend parts of their Saturday morning serving meals at the local soup kitchen, cleaning bathrooms at the Women’s Shelter down the road and even picking up trash alongside the roads in our neighborhood.

The best part of serving locally during the Famine weekend is that it has turned into frequent involvement and service with the same neighbors and organizations throughout the entire year. Students from our community now serve meals at the soup kitchen once a month and frequently help with childcare or cleaning needs at the shelter. The best part of those developing partnerships? The fact that they are consistent. Is the idea of cleaning toilets at a women’s shelter one that middle school students are going to naturally jump at? Of course not. But the idea of seeing Mary again or playing with Amy’s kids one more time once they’re done scrubbing sure can be.

Youth workers, please make it a value of your ministry to invest in consistent relationships. This isn’t a revolutionary or controversial idea, but for some reason when it comes to our mission trips or our 30 Hour Famine service opportunities it’s one we need to do a better job of living into. I wnt to encourage you to stop mission trip hopping from year to year in hopes of attracting more kids with a more exotic locale. Stop searching for a more exciting option for this year’s Famine service projects when the people you served last year are still in need right outside your door 365 days a year. Instead trust that the faces you’ll see and come to love from year to year will be all the draw your students need to engage.

Even Cooler Than I Thought

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Matt Williams

AlpacaA few weeks ago, I received an incredible gift.  World Vision invited me to join with four other 30 Hour Famine youth leaders to travel to Ecuador to see how they operate.  Needless to say, I accepted the invitation with gusto! So for nearly a week, we travelled through the central part of Ecuador visiting different WV partnership programs.  As you might expect, the trip was full of remarkable moments, wonderful people, and great insights.  But if I had to boil it all down into one sentence or one nugget to share my experience with everyone who does the Famine, it is this: World Vision’s approach, partnerships, and work are far more innovative, hope-filled, and downright cooler than I ever imagined.

There were numerous times where I was surprised at the way WV works to improve lives and communities, but I won’t try to pack them all in to this blog.  Instead, let me tell you about one project in one village that might give a glimpse into what we saw and experienced. They called it The Alpaca Project.

When WV began a partnership with this one community, there were many challenges the leaders wanted to tackle.  One of the more pressing challenges was the slowly degrading quality of the community’s water supply.  Now, we all know that WV helps people find and sustain sources of clean water, so it is no surprise that they were willing to help the community with this challenge.  What blew me away was the way WV addressed the problem.  The answer was not digging a well, creating a water pipeline, or building a purification system.  Instead, WV found a far more ecological, economic, and sustainable solution.

A few decades ago, the community started farming sheep.  The sheep were a good source of wool, and occasionally protein, for the people.  But sheep ate a lot of the grasses on the mountain slopes. Over time, the hungry sheep over-grazed the limited pasture land, resulting in erosion.  Without the grasses and soil to act as a natural filtration system, more minerals and runoff entered the water supply, slowly eliminating it as a drinkable water source.  WV proposed switching from sheep to alpacas as a remedy.  See, alpacas produce a comparable amount of wool as the sheep, but they eat one-sixth the amount of food.  They also breed more quickly than the sheep.  The village agreed, and WV provided 15 alpacas (and some necessary how-to-raise alpaca training).  Because the alpacas eat less, the mountain grasses regrew and thickened, making the pastures viable again.  Because the grasses were thicker, they again held the soil and acted as a natural water filter. This, in turn, reduced the contaminants entering the water table, and improved the water quality.  Now the village has 90 alpacas, a surplus of wool (which is turned into clothing and blankets for sale in nearby markets), and a clean source of water.

How cool is that!  By simply partnering with a community and coming up with a creative answer, WV helped to stabilize water quality, to introduce more biome-friendly livestock, and to create a long-term income source.  But the more important thing WV created is this: hope. Instead of struggling simply to survive, this community is starting to see a better future.  Who would have thought that looking into a water quality issue would so completely transform a small community?  Well, I guess WV does, and that is why the work they do is even cooler than I thought.

Thanks for all you do to support WV and the 30 Hour Famine.  Please keep working hard, because it truly changes lives and brings hope to communities that so desperately need it. Oh, and should the 30 Hour Famine team ever invite you to travel to see WV in action, go for it.  You might find yourself more hopeful too!

 

The Mini-Famine

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Kali DiMarco

mini-photo-for-mini-famineWe began doing the 30 Hour Famine in 2004 and they have steadily grown over time. From the start, the younger parishioners were very intrigued and by the third year they were biting at the bit to be part of the weekend. They wanted to do more than bring in cans of food and pray for the older kids. So, in 2006 we took yet another “leap of faith” and included 6th and 7th graders for 11 hours of our Famine. We called it the “Mini-Famine.” But there was nothing mini about them!

We thought we were just including some kids. We could not have been more wrong. This younger group has brought a dimension that we had not planned for. They are included in our opening one-mile walk and hear our guest speaker. Then they break off and have their own time together to play some games and learn more about hunger and social justice. They come back together with the larger group for a midday prayer. The first time they walked into this group, the older kids spontaneously gave them a standing ovation. What a sight! Again, when we dismissed them, the older kids yelled encouraging words, thanked them and gave them tons of “high-fives.” The little guys became cult heroes and you could see it in their steps. They had an eagerness and energy that spilled over to the rest of us. Unbeknownst to us, the younger group made special gifts and left them for the older kids before they left for the evening.

A couple of years into this we decided that we would bring the high school group to the closing of the Mini-Famine. The younger kids read some of their reflections and we could not believe how much this affected the older teens. Perhaps the biggest surprise to all of us was the amount of money the younger students raised. Consistently over the last 8 years, a “Mini-Faminer” has been in the top three fundraisers.

So, what was bound to happen? As the Famine grew, the kids who were too young for the Mini-Famine began to get vocal, wanting to know why they couldn’t “Do the Famine.” What did we do? We now have a “Micro-Mini 5’s-for-5” aspect of our Famine. This year, we had twelve of our fifth-graders join in the effort for a 5-hour Famine. They were amazing! Two of them were in the top three fundraisers and one of them raised the most money of all 200 participants! The only complaint was that their time was too short – and they are already for next year when they will move up to the Mini. We have a standing joke now that within a few years we will have the babies of the parish wanting their own “Infant-Famine”. God is Good.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.   1 Timothy 4:12

 

The Do-Nothing Mission Trip

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

Morgan Schmidt

10574429_767006965415_5634582883828316290_nConventional youth ministry wisdom says you probably shouldn’t walk a group of high school students through the red light district of Tijuana. You also shouldn’t make them walk across the border each way, especially when re-entering the United States requires waiting in a four hour line in the August sun, with 1,500 people ahead of you in line. And you would certainly never, ever, orient the “mission” or “work” or “service” of the trip around hours of meeting with people, hearing their stories, engaging in conversation, asking questions, and learning to emulate the kind of peacemaking posture that Jesus practiced.

You wouldn’t, until you did, and then you’d never be the same again.

From the beginning, pitching an experience to students and parents where we would go to San Diego and Tijuana and immerse ourselves into the stories of people affected by the immigration crisis was incredibly daunting. My own doubts skyrocketed as the trip came closer and closer, and I kept getting barraged by texts from students: “What are we going to be doing exactly?” or “But aren’t we going to do something?”

Here’s where my internal voice started screaming, “What have I done?!” But there’s no turning back from this crazy thing that maybe the Spirit led us to try.

My response – “We’re going to go be with people, learn their names, immerse into their stories, practice curiosity, contend on their behalf, and imagine what complete restoration looks like for the immigration conflict” – didn’t do much for solidifying our “mission” in the minds of my concrete-thinking young people.

Our student ministry has a tradition of mission trips that are primarily service-based, and they have participated in some really great projects over the years. We have a rich history of voluntourism – going new places to volunteer and then play tourist. Many, many good things can come of these experiences, and they can be life changing.

For our students, it was quickly becoming another program to add to their college applications, or simply a way of going some place cool and doing good so they could feel more heroic, accomplished, and self-less. It was just one more itinerary crammed into a summer full of camps, vacations, opportunities to volunteer through school programs, and as we re-evaluated our approach the most important question kept coming up: “What will be most meaningful and helpful way to form students in the way of Jesus?”

I’m not the first person to say that we underestimate teenagers. But I will say it again: We underestimate teenagers when we assume they need to be constantly occupied with tasks, entertained by everything, protected from honest questions and shielded from actual engagement with the most marginalized and vulnerable of society.

And so we did nothing. We didn’t build houses or run a vacation Bible school.

We met with local people working for peace on behalf of immigrants, women and men who are contending for justice and imagining what the kingdom of God looks like on earth as it is in heaven. We ate dinner with folks who had just been deported away from their families and livelihoods in the U.S. We cried with a legally blind grandmother who will likely never see her sons or grandchildren again. We were awed by one man whose sacrifice and love reconnected over 40,000 deported children with their families in Mexico and Central America. We were terrified to hear a U.S. border patrol agent describe how he systematically profiles people along the border. We played soccer and ate pizza with teenage boys seeking asylum in the U.S. after fleeing death threats and gang violence in their home countries.

We did nothing except be present enough to listen, learn, weep, and imagine alongside beautiful human beings who long for peace. And my students have sworn mutiny if we ever go back to the way our trips have been before. Every one of us will never be the same again, because we have seen the faces the world has forgotten, and are compelled by love to wage peace for all our sakes.

May we consider the sacred work of being present and doing nothing as we seek to form our students and our selves into the kind of people who follow in the way of Jesus.

The Mother of All Injustices

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

Jen Bradbury 

Open hands beggingOver the weekend, I watched an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, The West Wing. In it, two Native Americans show up at the White House and refuse to leave until they get an answer on an application their tribe submitted… fifteen years ago.

Near the end of the episode, White House Press Secretary CJ Cregg asks them, “How do you keep fighting the smaller injustices when they’re all from the mother of all injustices?

This question captured my heart and attention because I believe it’s an important one for those of us in ministry to continually wrestle with.

Thanks to social media, it seems as though every week we’re exposed to a new “mother of all injustices.”

  • Child soldiers.
  • Water scarcity.
  • Hunger.
  • Racism.
  • Refugees.
  • Human trafficking.
  • Inequalities of all kinds.

To be sure, injustices like these deserve our attention. But I wonder if focusing on the “mother of all injustices” actually get in the way of addressing smaller injustices?

After all, the “mother of all injustices” are big issues that are often faceless.

Because of this, it can be difficult to figure out how to even get started (though organizations like World Vision definitely make that easier).

Once you finally do get started, it can be equally difficult to see how what you’re doing matters; to stay motivated to keep up the fight.

Given this, maybe we’d be better off reversing the order and focusing first on the smaller injustices before then focusing on the “mother of all injustices”.

At the very least, I wonder what would happen if we connected the smaller injustices we see everyday in our local communities with our fight against the big ones found in our global world.

Doing this was something that changed my experience of the 30 Hour Famine.

The first few years my teens participated in the Famine, we focused only on global hunger. We played Tribe. We learned about world hunger. And what we learned was good.

But time and time again, students left saying, “Now what?”

So one year, we finally connected our community’s small injustices with the big global ones.

We went to a local homeless shelter where we cooked and prepared dinner for their clients and neighboring community. We did so even as we raised money and awareness to fight global hunger.

You see, you fight the small injustices because you can; because they are no more or less important than the “mother of all injustices.”

And when you fight them, rather than leave teens feeling paralyzed by the size of the “mother of all injustices”, you empower them to go out and continuing fighting injustices—whenever and wherever they see them.

Waiting on the World to Change

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Paul Martin

baby age of 1 year looks out of windowPerhaps you’ve heard the John Mayer song, “Waiting on the World to Change.” Maybe you’ve even sung along to it in your car or listened to it on your iPod while waiting in the line at Starbucks. You might have even said, “Oh, I love this song!” when you heard it piped in as background music at Target.

I know I have.

After all, it’s a catchy song. It’s honest, too. So honest it makes me wince, actually.

Here is just a snippet of the lyric:

“Me and all my friends

We’re all misunderstood

They say we stand for nothing and

There’s no way we ever could.

Now we see everything that’s going wrong

With the world and those who lead it

We just feel like we don’t have the means

To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting

Waiting on the world to change.”

Ugh. Just…ugh. Sadly, my only response to that lyric is, “Guilty.” If we could be honest, I think many people would admit to having the same feelings of powerlessness over the suffering in the world.

A few verses later there’s this line:

“It’s not that we don’t care

We just know that the fight ain’t fair

So we keep waiting

Waiting on the world to change.”

Wait…what?

Since when did the relative fairness (or unfairness!) of a “fight” exempt me from doing the right thing? Which begs the question, “Then why aren’t ‘we’ doing the right thing to change it?”

Poor John Mayer, I just threw him under the bus with myself and all the rest of us who find ourselves identifying with the brutal truth of this song. But it IS an excellent question. Why aren’t more of us changing the world, instead of waiting for it to change itself? I have a theory that might give at least a partial answer to that question, but it isn’t very comforting.

I think we are deceived…by ourselves. Oh yeah, and we forget.

James 1:22-24 says this, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

James really does not mix his message here. He says those of us who do not act out of our understanding of God’s word “deceive” ourselves. Another version calls it “fooling ourselves.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being called a fool, much less acting like one. When my actions don’t line up with my beliefs, though, I do exactly that. Put another way, when I wait for the world to change, instead of doing something about it myself, I deceive myself and forget what I have heard in God’s word.

James goes on to say, in verse 25, that “the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” [emphasis added]

So…what have I heard in God’s word? So glad you asked.

I have heard that God loves and cares for orphans, widows, and displaced persons. And that I should, too.

Don’t believe me? Then check this out:

Deuteronomy 10:17-19

For the LORD your God is God of gods, Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” [emphasis added]

Our very great and awesome God defends orphans and widows and loves people who have been displaced from their homeland. It says so right there in the text. If that’s not enough, check out Psalm 68:4-6 sometime.

Or just read James 1:27.

Here it is:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

I thought John Mayer’s songwriting was brutally honest, but James assessment of what God desires and calls us to do (and even accepts as a pure expression of our faith) is in many ways even more blunt. He removes our excuses, our self-deceit, and even our forgetfulness by reminding us what God has asked us to do. Not because of who we are or what we feel, but because of who GOD IS.

And isn’t that always the remedy for the powerlessness that we feel when we see everything that’s wrong with the world?