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The Famine Blog

Dear Famine Leaders, Thank You!


By Tess Cassidy   

tess.Reine and I-1000During a recent sermon in church, the pastor mentioned world hunger. Suddenly I perked up from my peaceful, relaxed state. My passion for fighting world hunger and poverty started to consume my mind. My focus faded from the pastor’s words as I began to reflect on what world hunger means to me.

Fighting world hunger and poverty is more than just a lofty proposition carelessly tossed around; it is part of my identity. It’s a topic that gets me going. You know, one of those topics that the person you are speaking with can tell there’s more than plain conversation behind your words–there’s heart.

As I reflect now on my passion for fighting world hunger, I find it hard to imagine who I would be without it. I did my first 30 Hour Famine when I was twelve. The 30 Hour Famine provided an avenue for me to learn the real facts and have the real feelings of hunger. It gave me leadership and public speaking experience as I became the student leader of the 30 Hour Famine at my church for three years. I then received the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia on the Study Tour in 2013. There, I met incredible people on the other side of the world that were not only living, but thriving because of funds raised by people like me. Last fall I ran my first marathon with Team World Vision in support of clean water in Africa. I hope to some day work for World Vision or a similar organization.

When I was a hungry 12-year-old doing the Famine, I had no clue the impact it would have on my life. Without a doubt, I know God placed the 30 Hour Famine at my church to reach me.

I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for my youth group leaders that chose to put on the Famine that year, and continue to do so. Even more, the utmost thanks goes to the Famine Team at World Vision. Without their passion and drive to mobilize youth on this issue, the resources would never exist for us to do the 30 Hour Famine. I am amazed every day by the drive, commitment, and effort each member of the team puts in to make this a national movement.

Thank you youth leaders around the nation that choose to put in endless hours of preparing and holding a 30 Hour Famine for your group. I know it’s an exhausting process, but you are making more than just an impact to hungry children. You are sparking understanding and passion in your youth. You’re exposing them to the world–a world they can help transform. You are on the front lines with the potential of impacting youth for life. Your hard work is building the compassionate leaders of tomorrow.

Youth leaders and Famine Team alike, never stop planning, sharing information, and sparking passions. I’m a living example of your impact.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Better Than Green Bagels


Mark Oestreicher

Saint Patricks Green BagelToday is Saint Patrick’s Day, of course. And maybe, like me, you’re not only thinking about parades and shamrocks and green beer, but also have at least a passing thought about good old Pat himself. I grabbed a green T-shirt out of my closet to wear today; but then: it has Jesus riding a T-Rex on it, so I’m not sure if it really counts as Pat-festive.

This is the guy who was raised wealthy, in England, but was taken as a slave to Ireland. After escaping and returning home to his family, he felt the call to return to Ireland—this time as a missionary (a very poor missionary). Patrick and others like him have often been credited with “saving” Christianity during the dark ages. They actually sent missionaries to continental Europe to re-introduce the gospel.

There are very few written prayers that both challenge me and encourage me like the words of the prayer often referred to as Saint Patrick’s Breastplate. The words comfort and encourage me as they remind me of the presence of Jesus. And because I’m wholeheartedly convinced that love is the motive for everything Jesus does, his presence is always a good thing.

But the words challenge me also. They challenge me because my intellectual desire for a vibrant faith isn’t always matched by my heart. I aspire to this sort of faith, even if I don’t completely live it every day.

Take a moment, now, to read this selection from Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, slowly. Read it more than once. Allow the words to encourage and challenge you.

Christ with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right,

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

Ok, now you can go have that green bagel.

Let them fight!


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 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


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 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.


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. 


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


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.


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 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


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 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.