By Matt Andrews
Personally, I think adult hunger is a lot more complicated than teenage hunger. Nowadays when I get really hungry I think boring adult thoughts about it: thoughts about calories, or saturated fat, or processed ingredients. Long gone are my days of slaying the Taco Bell dollar menu with a few crumpled bills and as much change as I could scrounge from around the house or under my car seats (and still weighing 145 pounds no matter what I ate).
As an adult I remember that trip to the doctor when he said my cholesterol was too high. What’s a more boring adult word than “cholesterol?” And strangely, I find I actually have some self-control now. I mean, I’ve been hearing about it my whole life, but now I really have some of it. As a teenager the only thing stopping me from eating everything after sports practices was an availability problem: there just wasn’t enough food available (ever).
Which makes the 30 Hour Famine experience all the more mysterious to me. I mean, I can remember that intense, insatiable teenage hunger just like it was yesterday. There’s no reason for me to believe that teenage hunger is different nowadays. And when I remember my teenage self, I don’t see how I possibly could have gone 30 hours on juice alone, all while participating in high-energy activities and service projects. But nobody ever asked me to… so who knows?
For every Famine I’ve led as a youth pastor, I have as many stories as there were participants about ravenous teens putting themselves second in order to be a blessing. I’ve seen kids waver in the early hours of the Famine, and I was sure they would tap out, but they never did. I have literally never had a kid fail to complete all 30 hours of the Famine, and believe me, I’ve had all kinds of teens show up to participate! I remember my teenage hunger, my teenage selfishness, and my teenage inability to think critically, and I just marvel at how…well…heroic an effort all of these students are willing to make.
Which brings me to this important thought: as your group participates in the 30 Hour Famine, and you celebrate their selflessness for making it through, consider the possibility that there might be a whole lot more potential in your group than you even realized. Unlike most adults, teens are often willing to just go for it in ministry situations if you ask them to. When I was teenager in church, no one ever asked much of me at all; no one ever challenged me. I wish they would have.
Instead of just being a great event for your group that fills a slot in the calendar, maybe the 30 Hour Famine can be the beginning of a new season in your group, a time of growth and challenges for teens who have shown they will go to great lengths to serve others.