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The Famine Blog

Why Corran is a Gift to Our Youth Ministry


By Shawn Kiger

corranA year ago I began planning for our first Haiti mission trip. I had a feeling Corran, who at the time was a middle school boy, would want to sign up and go because he wants to go on every trip. Corran loves youth group, church, and especially mission trips. If we are going somewhere, most likely Corran will be going with us.

One other thing about Corran, other than that he is a typical squirrely middle schooler: he has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair.

One of the unique things about our youth group is that we have several teenagers with special needs. In the 17 years I have been in youth ministry–only the last two at my new church—I’ve never encountered this number of special needs youth in one group.  I have learned (and still have a lot to learn) over the past couple years how to make accommodations for Corran and others in youth group and on trips.  But a trip to Haiti concerned me a little.  I knew nothing would be wheelchair accessible and it would be tough to get around. But he has great parents and his father said he would go along so that Corran could go.

While in Haiti we served at a home for disabled girls and helped with construction of a new home. Everyday Corran went to the home to hang out with the girls and their leaders.  They all sat around the table and did crafts and played games. What started off as awkward because of the language barrier and not knowing what to say soon turned to Corran entertaining the whole group. The Haitian girls loved Corran! They had never seen an American with disabilities like they had.

One day the girls asked him if it was ok to ask him questions. He loves to talk and be the center of attention so he was happy to answer any questions they had. One of them asked him if he ever got discouraged because of his disability. He immediately said no. He went on to say he doesn’t get discouraged because he has great parents to take care of him, and a great church where all of his friends in the youth group are willing to include him and help him when needed. Then Corran told the girls that we would be there for them and that God was always with them so they didn’t need to be discouraged either. That moment was a kingdom of God moment that everyone could feel.  He was bringing hope, maybe just for a moment, to a group of girls that had none.

I was nervous about taking Corran to Haiti because of what I thought he wouldn’t be able to do. But what I relearned that day is that God calls all of us, including a squirrely middle school boy in a wheelchair, to reach out and to serve those most vulnerable amongst us.

Facing an Awesome Angry Mob



By Matt Williams

Don’t you love it when your youth group suddenly turns into an angry mob? I sure do! (Note: sarcasm.)

You would have thought that I uttered some blasphemy about Zane or Selena or Taylor, or that I announced the cancellation of our Fall Retreat, or that I thought the local NFL quarterback was over-rated. No, my words were apparently worse than any of these scenarios in the minds of the youth group. In an instant, my simple words turned the youth leadership team into a frenzied ball of indignation and outrage. And please don’t think me a poor youth minister, but I confess that I enjoyed watching it happen.

What was my sacrilege? What made me glad I had hidden the pitchforks and torches? What was the unspeakable thing that I said to my student leaders? It was this simple question: “Are we sure we want to do the 30 Hour Famine this year?”

While I remain a great supporter of the 30 Hour Famine and of World Vision, I noticed some signs of complacency from my students at our last Famine event. And it is predictable that this would happen. After all, our church has done the Famine for sixteen years now. None of the youth can remember a time where the Famine was not part of our parish life. To paraphrase a line from the character Syndrome in the movie The Incredibles: when every year has a special Famine event, it is easy to perceive that none of them are.

So, I asked the unspeakable question. I pointed out all that had been done, and asked if it was time to change our involvement and support something new. After all, World Vision has lots of different ways for youth to make a change in the world around them. And I highlighted the fact that it was getting harder to find youth willing to commit to the planning team that puts our Famine together. Was it time to stop doing the Famine?

Immediately after the question of my sanity was put to rest, the youth began articulating their reasons why the Famine was important. “We know it makes a difference for so many people.” “Everybody does the Famine, even the people that don’t come to youth group that much.” “There are still hungry people, so we still have work to do.” “Besides, the Famine is fun.” And after they concluded their defense of continuing our Famine tradition, they started contemplating ways to fire people up about the Famine this year.

It made my spirit happy to see the youth respond in the way they did. It would have been the easier path for them to switch to some cause that was new, or easier still, to just stop doing anything at all. But these young people jumped in and rallied to speak up not only for themselves, but for all of the people who remain hungry each day. I doubt you could find better evidence of the impact the 30 Hour Famine has on the teens that participate than their reaction to my unspeakable question! Neither could you find a more faithful response to the call Jesus makes to each of us when it comes to loving “the least and the lost”.

That’s why I loved the angry mob. It was a passionate response to something too many people are complacent about: the fact there is hunger in this world. I am glad they got angry when it was suggested we stop trying to do something about hunger. I pray that my youth always have this passion to fight hunger. And I pray that yours do too.


Why You Should Come to the Middle School Ministry Campference


msmcBy Chris McKenna, 30 Hour Famine Leader

There aren’t many humans who wake up and say, “I love middle school students! I want to be with them, I want to talk to them, I want to help them work through their junk, and I can’t wait for the all-nighter this Friday!” Crazy talk. Borderline insanity.

But, there are a few who feel this way. And, I’m one of them! I’ve worked part or full time in middle school ministry for 10 years. And, although my aging body struggles more and more with the all-nighters, if given a choice to work with any age group in the church, I’ll pick junior high every time. Their energy and “what if?” attitudes give me hope for what could be.

Our Family Ministry staff at Cornerstone Church recently read It’s Just a Phase So Don’t Miss It by Reggie Joyner and Kristen Ivy from the ReThink Group (also known as Orange) and they said this about middle school:

“Middle School can be impulsive and intense. Whatever they feel they feel with passion – even if they may change their mind tomorrow. They have a unique blend of confidence and insecurity unlike any other phase (of life).”

They nailed it.

And, because this is such a unique age, middle school youth workers are a unique tribe. We speak a similar language and have similar struggles. It’s for this reason I’ve found so much encouragement from attending The Middle School Ministry Campference for the past three years. Yes, you read that correctly, it’s a CAMPference, not a CONference. There’s a huge difference!

It’s a gathering of just middle school pastors and volunteers once per year at SpringHill Camp in lovely Seymour, Indiana. It’s a group of friends you didn’t know you had, all coming together united in the love of junior high. It’s having a chance to be one-on-one with friends like Mark Oestreicher (The Youth Cartel), Kurt Johnston and Katie Edwards (Saddleback Church), Scott Rubin (Willow Creek), Elle Campbell (Orange), and so many others. It’s a chance to attend amazing seminars, swap war stories around a campfire, scream together down the massive zip line, and share the best of what God has shown each of us in our ministries. Iron sharpening iron.

I’ve attended many of the big conventions for youth ministry. And, nothing has compared to the intimate, relational learning I’ve enjoyed from the Campference. You can’t beat it (not to mention the price is amazingly low). I can honestly say that significant, strategic directions in my ministry were catalyzed at the Campference.

Are you looking for a way to be encouraged, enlightened, and strengthen in your junior high ministry? Do you have a couple of super volunteers who might also benefit from seeing that they are part of something big? Something of eternal significance? Do you have a limited budget? Then come to the Campference. You won’t be disappointed.

Thin Places


Katie Swift, WV Youth Mobilization team

IMG_2371 Years ago I read an article about the Celtic idea of “thin places.” These are “those rare locales where the distance between heaven and Earth collapses, and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine,” as Eric Weiner writes. I think about these places a lot, and I can list out the thin places I’ve experienced that have stuck with me: Worship on my last day as a summer camp director. Hiking up Mt. Sinai in the middle of the night.  Listening to kids play in the field outside my dorm in Ghana. Looking around at all my friends and family at my wedding… After leading the Study Tour to Peru, I can add something else to the list.

This was my first year leading the study tour. What a lot of people probably don’t realize is that going to “the field” is not a given for most World Vision staff in our U.S. office – most of my colleagues go to work every day, responding to emails, making marketing pieces, writing communications, and they might never see our work with their own eyes. To get to see what we really do, to actually meet the children that we exist to help, to talk with our colleagues who do the hard work on the ground, is truly a gift. To take 7 teenagers to see our work and experience it through their eyes is even more of a gift.

IMG_2368These 7 students came from all over the country, and they brought with them many different lenses through which they viewed the world. Some had traveled to other countries, some had never left their state, one had never even flown on a plane. They are at different ages, between 15 and 18. They have different interests and aspire to do a variety of different things in life. But they all approached this trip with such grace and wisdom that it left me in awe. As we debriefed every night I scribbled down some of their observations. Here are some of the ones that gave me the chills:

“Our goal is to bring heavenly things to earthly things.” –Jaime, age 16, Texas

“The reality of all this is scary. I worry about people talking about me behind my back, but there are so many more things I can invest my worries and cares into.” – Deanna, age 17, Connecticut

IMG_2351“It’s made me realize that my church isn’t really doing enough… we spend so much time doing things that don’t really help others and I think that’s what the Famine is all about, getting out there and really feeling the hunger.” –Suzanne, age 18, Oregon

“You see photos of poverty, and then you see it, and you see that they are real people with real values and emotions and they are just as important as we are.” –Kate, age 17, Illionois

“I wish seeing this much happiness in the United States was that common.” –Michaela, age 16, Ohio

“It’s our responsibility to help them help themselves.” – Michael, age 15, New Jersey

“It’s not about us.” – Tanner, age 18, Washington

From the things they said, I have a hunch some of these students experienced a “thin place” while we were in Peru.

For me, the thin place was in a community called Huacachina, which is nestled in the Andes Mountains. In Huacachina we visited a school, talked with a teacher, sat in on a lesson in a 3rd and 4th grade classroom, and played an epic game of soccer. The whole experience was incredible, but as I stood on the sidelines watching our students play soccer against these tiny elementary schoolers (and get whooped by them, I might add), I felt it.

IMG_2247The Peruvian girls who weren’t in the game at the time started cheering for the United States, “¡Estados Unidos ganará!“ “The United States are going to win!” The boys stood on the other side cheering for Peru. They all giggled and laughed and hooted and hollered. Eventually the girls got in our goal to help out, and the boys got in their goal, and it became this huge ridiculous game of soccer.  The World Vision Peru staff who were with us were cheering right there with the kids, suggesting new cheers and new antics. They were known and loved in that community.

Our students were out on the field, so out of breath from the high altitude, but smiling as big as they could smile. They had Peruvian kids hanging off of them and grasping onto their hands at any given time. These American teens were getting beat in soccer by children, some 10 years younger than them, but having the time of their lives.

As I stood and watched, I was overwhelmed with this sense that this is what World Vision is about. Not only that, but this is what Jesus is about. The World Vision staff were embodying Jesus, as they do every single day, as they set out to make life better for the children in their communities. The kids we were visiting were getting to be just normal kids playing a fun game. They weren’t worried about their food or their home or the future of their education. The students we brought with us were being nourished spiritually in ways they don’t get in the midst of their teenage lives in America. They were learning what it was like to help others, but they were also learning that sometimes when you set out to help others, you get far more out of it in return.

David (the other leader) and I, as part of the team who works on the 30 Hour Famine program, have the incredible job of helping transform the lives of the kids around the world, as well as help transform the lives of students here in the United States, who go to your churches, who are in your youth groups. Watching the soccer game, listening to the laughter and the cheers, it all came together for me. The things that we work for everyday, mostly from behind a computer screen in a cubicle, suddenly became very clear.

Heaven was a little closer to Earth in that place, in that moment. I don’t think I was the only one who felt it, and I hope it sticks with all of us for a very, very long time.

Getting A Game Plan


By Tash McGill

get-a-game planI’ve been thinking a lot about reinvention lately. The first person to teach me about life strategy had just made some colossal mistakes and lost his job, his family and his idea of himself. He taught me that life happens in three parts; you learn, you earn, you return.

A few years later I came to thinking that you could reinvent and redesign every five years or so. Seemed like a reasonable plan – I mean, in five years you can retrain, you can graduate high school, you can send a kid to kindergarten.

Now I think, you can reinvent anytime you have the chance. Any new beginning and every ending is a chance to reinvent. You’ve got to reinvent the right thing though.

I’ve known a lot of people who’ve tried to reinvent themselves but failed. I think we are wired through nature, nurture and experiences to be who we are so trying to change ourselves is often counter-productive.

The Rugby World Cup is starting in a few weeks. (That’s the greatest game in the world. Seriously, you should look it up. ) The tournament only comes around every 4 years and it’s always a tough competition. You have to choose the best 31 players to join your squad, from which only 15 players can take the field at a time. Rugby players are not carbon copies of each other and they age a lot between World Cups. The 2011 champions are all a lot older than they were four years ago and they’re playing with new, less experienced members too. They have different strengths and skills, so every time a player combination changes you need to be able to change the strategy.

The objective is always to get the ball across the line. The ball doesn’t change, the objective doesn’t change, the rules don’t change. The only thing that you can change is the strategy of how you’re going to get there.

A friend of mine has just come out of rehab. It’s serious stuff. He’s learning he can’t change himself or his desire to drink. He can only change his tactics and strategy for living in a way that doesn’t harm himself or his family.

So every ending and any new beginning is a chance to reinvent your strategy. To get a new game plan instead of letting life just wash over you, hoping you’ll eventually get to where you are going.

The beginning of a new school year can feel overwhelming when you have no idea what’s going to come your way. Maybe you’ve lost valuable relationships, maybe your workplace environment has changed. Maybe you’re just bored or tired, exhausted at the idea of another year of all this.

Change your game plan. Whatever it is that you want to see happen this year; get a plan. And have a strategy in case that plan doesn’t work. Here’s a hint: that strategy begins with “Get back in the game.”

Team Peru Post-Trip Reflection


By Michael Atlas, Team Peru Participant

11898664_10153310323219681_1678521401441290281_nImagine a place where clusters of huts dot the picturesque mountainside. The communities are small and humble, but constantly striving to improve, growing bigger and better day-by-day. Everywhere you look, and in everyone you meet, you see hope; hope for good health, hope for community improvement, hope for a better life. This was my experience in Peru. Team Peru’s study tour into Ayacucho was nothing short of spectacular. I speak for all of us on the team when I say that this trip was touching, inspirational, and most importantly life-changing. It gave me a new take on not only poverty, but the entire way I view life, God, and myself.

While we were in Peru, we all got to see firsthand how World Vision helps those in need around the world. They do so much for the communities they’re involved in, supporting education, promoting hygiene, teaching nutrition; everything people need in order to live a substantial life. World Vision doesn’t just feed the hungry and leave; they provide communities with the basic essentials for progress, so that eventually they can move past the poverty line and become self-sufficient. I witnessed the impact of all this with my own eyes, and it was amazing. One community we visited had a guinea pig project from World Vision’s donations and teachings, and their progress was clearly evident, and quite amazing. Seeing all of the work that World Vision does overwhelmed me, and without their help I think the communities we visited would be in much worse shape.

11035978_10153310313524681_3497593544770866242_nVisiting the communities themselves was a surreal experience. It’s hard to turn everything I felt from the visits into words. Each community we visited treated us as if we were celebrities, throwing flowers at us, taking thousands of pictures, feeding us piles upon piles of food; it was so humbling. The only thing that I could think was that I don’t deserve this, that we were here to help them, not be honored. It was obvious that our arrival was as big a deal to them as it was for us, who knows how long they had been preparing for our visit; their excitement for us being there was almost greater than our own. One thing that I know I will remember for a very long time is all the children that we met. At the end of each visit, we all handed out gifts to the kids. Their eyes would grow wide with excitement, as they all swarmed and reached their hands out asking for anything we could give. I wish we could’ve given every kid we met an entire toy chest, but it still made my heart so happy just to see them all play with the little things we brought.

I went into this trip expecting to see lots of sadness amidst the poverty; I thought I would encounter illness and disease and all sorts of terrible things. I was wrong though: instead I saw pride, joy, and met people who had a better outlook on life than I did myself. Sure, we did see some people who were sick or hurt, but there was an air of hope around them versus one of depression. As people showed us their homes and their kitchens, they weren’t sad because they were poor; instead they were proud of what they had, and proud to improve their lives with the help of World Vision. This set an example for me, to not be ungrateful for what I own. I learned that it’s OK to desire more (that’s just human nature), but to remember to feel blessed for all that you have, that’s the perspective of the Peruvians we met.

11873551_10153310315209681_6262550694493127079_nAnother thing I saw from the communities was an extreme generosity: when we showed up they gave us everything they had, despite the fact that they had so little. Each one of us was individually fed enough for five people! They knew we wouldn’t be able to eat it all, but they gave it us any way, as a sign of hospitality. I can only imagine what they would give if they had as much as we do. It was almost as if they would’ve given us the shirts off their backs, like Jesus taught. I found God in everyone I met, not just because these people were deeply religious (which they are), but they simply acted with the same kindness that Jesus constantly embodied.

It’s a shame that people as genuine and nice as these Peruvians are struggling just to survive and feed their children; but World Vision is changing that. I was so blessed to be able to see all of this, to meet all of these people, to even travel to Peru in the first place. I know I said this in my previous blog post, but this wonderful experience wouldn’t have been the same without the rest of Team Peru, we all bonded so close during the week, and leaving them was just as hard as it was to leave each community at the end of the day. I’m really going to miss Peru, this experience was undoubtedly the journey of a lifetime, and everything I saw and felt will be forever in my heart and in my mind.

Community Development


community-devepmentMaybe you’ve heard that, in addition to disaster relief and other important work, World Vision is involved in “Community Development.” And maybe you’ve wondered exactly what that means. In the relief and development world, community development generally means improving conditions within a group of people alongside that group of people.

We especially love this definition from the Community Development Exchange:

“Its key purpose is to build communities based on justice, equality and mutual respect. Community development involves changing the relationships between ordinary people and people in positions of power, so that everyone can take part in the issues that affect their lives. It starts from the principle that within any community there is a wealth of knowledge and experience which, if used in creative ways, can be channeled into collective action to achieve the communities’ desired goals.”

That collective action with communities looks like a whole host of different things… food, water, education, health programs, supporting local businesses with micro-loans or access to larger markets—ALL with the goal of a community’s sustainability in mind. The goal is to create a thriving, independent, self-sustaining community together with that community.

Does community development still sound abstract and impersonal?  Here’s more:

We Support the Hungry…So that they can feed themselves.

Could we hand out food? Sure. And we do in situations that are especially grim, like disasters—but that’s relief, not development. It meets the present need, but if that was all we did, what would happen if we left? People would go on being hungry.

Instead, development, looks like working with community volunteers to identify healthy children in the community and learn best practices from that child’s parents that can be combined with best practices in nutrition and farming. World Vision works alongside these community volunteers to share these insights with families in the community whose children are malnourished and to help them implement these learnings in their daily lives. Not only are children becoming healthier, but families are developing a sense of pride in their abilities to keep their families healthy and strong!

We Work Alongside the Thirsty…So that they can drink freely.

Imagine walking four miles every day of your life through tough terrain to gather your daily supply of water. And once you arrive, you scoop dirty, disease-ridden water out of a muddy creek bed. You use this water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Sabina, a mother of three living in Kenya, lived a life exactly like this. As a child, she never even attended school because she didn’t have time – she spent most of her time fetching water. As she grew older, she carried 70 pounds of water on her back every day from the creek bed to her home. She even made the trek the day she gave birth. Sometimes her children fell ill to disease because of the water.

Then, World Vision completed an irrigation system that provided Sabina and her neighbor with water spigots. Clean water. Accessible water. Now, Sabina’s children have time to attend school.  And now, Sabina and her family live free from the fear of water-borne illness.

We Educate Learners…So they know their rights and can be their own advocates.

Because her family lacked the funds to support her, Khoun Kheo stopped going to school after second grade.  In a village in Laos, Khoun now attends a literacy class through World Vision where she is learning how to read and write – two skills that will dramatically improve the quality of her life. When men and women learn to read and write, they can read laws, regulations, and loan agreements. As informed citizens, they can protect themselves and their families from oppression and contribute to society in new ways.

We Connect Local Businesses to Greater Opportunities…So that business owners can support their families.

In Rwanda, a woman named Angela owns a small clothing business. Her town lacks the infrastructure to help her business grow. She can’t walk to a bank and take out a loan to buy new equipment. In spite of these obstacles, Angela is determined to improve her business and provide for her children. World Vision pairs entrepreneurs like Angela with loan opportunities by introducing a donor in the US to Angela via programs like World Vision Micro. Through a small donation, this donor is providing funds to help Angela get her business up and running. Angela will now be able to support her family and contribute to the growth of her local economy as a result.

We Teach Health and Hygiene Practices…So that families can thrive!

Rowena, a mother of five, lives in the Philippines. In her community, it is not uncommon for a woman to birth 10 children. Because traditional practices neglect aspects of nutrition and disease prevention, children are often sick. Thankfully, mothers and community members can learn better hygiene practices through classes taught by World Vision. Parents learn things like sanitation and basic health care and prevention.  Rowena can now provide for her family’s health in ways she couldn’t before, and she teaches others to do the same.

We take a holistic approach to helping a community stand on its own two feet. Through food, water & sanitation, health interventions, education, and economic opportunities, World Vision’s community development model is designed to improve the lives of the children and families, as well as future generations as they step out of poverty, and into a healthy future.

A Report from Team Peru


Michael Atlas, Study Tour participant

IMG_2124Bear with me as I try to describe the amazing experience that Team Peru embarked on earlier this week. It started off with a flight into the city of Lima, and from there the adventure began. We soon traveled into the beautiful, mountainous, Ayacucho, where we were blessed to be given a look into the people, places, and cultures of the Andes. Each day started with a long morning drive to the city of Tambo, and from there we travelled to each ADP community. We visited houses, schools, sat in on lessons, watched demonstrations, and both saw and learned more than we could remember. We tried new foods, met new people, and travelled to places we’d never imagined.

Food is a huge part of culture to the Andean/Quechuan people, and it’s very different than it is here in the States. While we were there we tried a large variety of different Peruvian foods. Corn is a huge staple, and there was plenty of it; a lot of restaurants served different types of dried corn kernels before meals, and a school we visited snacked on some during class. There were also plenty of meats served, like chicken, pork, and especially guinea pig! I had my first experience with guinea pig (or cuy as they call it) at the first community we visited. They served us a feast of roasted chicken, lamb and corn soup, and most memorably, some fried cuy leg. It was all delicious, (although cuy isn’t really my personal favorite). Lastly, there is one thing we were served almost everywhere we went, Chicha, a drink derived from purple corn. It was literally drunken everywhere and in each area it had a slightly different taste. Everything we ate was spectacular, but just one small part of our amazing trip.

The Andes are a beautiful place, with mountains stretching out as far as the eyes can see. Ayacucho is also just as awe-inspiring, but the majority of our trip took place two hours away near the city of Tambo. Everyday started the same, a scenic drive to Tambo, and from there to the community. The villages we visited were all relatively small, and mainly comprised of humble homes and huts tucked away into the mountains. Each village was surrounded by farm fields (or guinea pig pens!) The houses within the village we visited consisted of three rooms, a living room, bedroom, and child space. Outside, around the house, was the kitchen/storeroom and the bathroom. Inside, the families had plenty of hand crafted, beautiful blankets, not to mention posters of world vision and their own personal goals on the wall (this part touched me the most). The schools we visited were interesting too. Although the building wasn’t as it is in the U.S, the classrooms were decorated with colorful work from the students, just like home.

There was so much to take in on our journey, and we were so lucky to get to see it all.

IMG_2081Out of every single thing we saw, I was most impressed by the people we met. Everyone we met at the communities was so kind and sweet, Each day we’d enter a new village or project to be greeted with signs and cheers and flowers (lots of flowers!), and everyone would shower us with hugs. The people were all so generous, first for letting us look into their lives, second for all that they gave us. Those people gave the little they had to us; they fed us feasts and brought us gifts! Another thing I noticed in each community was how proud everyone was; as they showed us their houses and how they educated their children, they spoke with a great amount of pride. We visited multiple schools as well on our visit, and the energy and enthusiasm the students had for learning was stronger than it is here. Every kid in that classroom was alert and part of the lesson. We watched one adorable lesson where one student read aloud a familiar story, and if he made a mistake the rest would call him/her out. He ended up making mistakes on purpose, in order to check if his classmates were paying attention. What I was most impressed with though, was the people’s complete and utter love for God. Every village we visited showed us their church (the biggest and nicest building, by the way), and one home we visited had a small church even built into the back. Even in their situation, they dedicate their lives to God, and thank him for all they have. It’s almost as if their circumstances have worked to strengthen their faith.

The entire trip was awe-inspiring, eye-opening, and simply amazing. Everything that we saw and everything that we experience will stick with us forever, and I have so many people to thank. Firstly, I’d like to thank all the wonderful World Vision Peru staff, they were with us every step of the way in Peru, and helped us to experience and learn so much. Also, I’d like to thank our World Vision team leaders for getting us through Peru and keeping us safe and well. Lastly, I’d like to thank my team, each one of them contributed to our group personality. Over the short time we had we grew into a family, and I couldn’t think of doing this with anyone else. I, as well as the rest of us, were so blessed by God to be able to make this journey, and I know none of us took it for granted. It was the experience of a lifetime, and I’m so glad to have been part of it.

How Long-Term Hunger Impacts the Brain



Let’s be honest, most of us can’t make it through the workday (or teenagers throughout the school day) without snacking. By 11 a.m. our stomachs are grumbling and we’re already thinking about what’s for lunch. The thought of being busy all day, then missing that meal seems crazy. But for far too many, hunger is more than a missed meal here and there. Hunger is a part of everyday life. The effects of hunger, malnutrition, and stress on brain development are not only devastating, but can be irreversible.

What exactly happens to the brain?

  • Hunger delays development on the cognitive, social and emotional level. This includes reading, language, attention, memory and problem-solving capabilities.
  • Hunger hinders our ability to focus and study. Children who experience hunger early on are more likely to perform poorly academically, repeat a grade and/or require special assistance while in school.
  • Each year, as a result of vitamin A deficiency, more than 2 million children experience severe eyesight issues and some are permanently blinded.
  • From birth, irreversible brain damage can be caused because of iodine deficiency in the mother. Iodine deficiency is easily preventable and affects around 1.9 billion people worldwide.
  • Hunger results in a lower IQ and less developed brain matter then well-nourished children.
  • Hunger and stress effect the functioning of the brain that determines decision-making.

WVbrain2Why does this happen?

  • A lack of necessary protein, vitamins, minerals and nutrients that contain the energy people need to lead productive lives. Many people eat the same food everyday and lack access to these nutrients.
  • When children experience prolonged poverty and hunger, damaging chemicals are released in their brain.
  • In the first two years of life, 70% of the brain develops. If a child experiences significant malnourishment, hunger and stress during that time frame, it’s likely their brain will be permanently damaged.

What can we do?

The long-term consequences of hunger are frightening. People enduring malnourishment aren’t only suffering today, but will most likely suffer well into their future. The many side effects of hunger create yet another roadblock for those trying to escape poverty. With hunger currently plaguing around 925 million people, this is an issue that cannot be ignored.

Your participation in 30 Hour Famine is hope crafting: despite the immense suffering in the world, we have the opportunity to transform lives. Hunger alters a child’s future, but 30 Hour Famine is a chance to offer a brighter one. We can stop hunger in its tracks.

(Note to Famine leaders: This blog post might be good to save with your Famine materials. You could use it in promotion of your 30 Hour Famine, or read it to students during your Famine.)

Countdown for departure to Peru



Michael Atlas

As the days countdown for departure to Peru, I can’t help but be filled with excitement when I think about the coming trip. It’s been this way ever since I heard the news that I was actually accepted onto the team and it has been growing ever since! Back then, questions of all sorts swarmed my mind: What would I see? Who would I meet? What would I learn? Now, with flights scheduled and hotels booked, I still don’t really know what to expect, but I know for sure it’s going to be the experience of a lifetime.

In Peru, we’ll be traveling between different ADP communities, talking to the people living there and seeing how World Vision helps in each area. I know that I, as well as everyone else on the team, am looking forward to meeting the many Peruvians that World Vision has helped, talking to them and really connecting with them. I’m excited to hear their stories with open ears, and see how God works within their lives. We are all also bringing gifts for the kids, so we can play with them and help them to have fun. I can only hope that our presence in Peru will brighten their week, as well as everyone else’s, and that through our faith we will give them hope.

Now, this is a study tour after all, an opportunity to go and experience first hand how World Vision helps the less fortunate. I’m excited to go out and learn, to see World Vision succeeding in the fight against world hunger and poverty. I know that throughout the week we will all learn plenty of new things about service, about God, and about ourselves. I’m especially looking forward to talking to some of the World Vision staff in Peru, seeing how God has influenced their lives and how they have been inspired to help fight world poverty. Hopefully, I, as well as all of us going on this trip, will come back changed for the better from what we see and what we learn on this “adventure” of sorts. It could very easily inspire any one of us to dedicate our lives to service, and will give us the background to help for the rest of our lives.

I am so thrilled for this wonderful trip, and everything that it has to offer. My hopes and excitement know no boundaries, and I’m eager for everything that I’m going to see and learn. I cannot wait to see what’s awaiting me in Peru, and I know that the rest of my team feels the very same way.