It’s kind of a big deal


Matt Williams, Assistant to the Rector, Youth Ministries, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Charlotte, North Carolina

0e507287_mattwilliamsIt’s kind of a big deal.

The 30 Hour Famine is a big deal for the youth group at St. John’s.  We have done the Famine for fourteen consecutive years now.  It is not “an event” for our youth…it is part of the fabric of who we are as a youth group.  The Famine is so big at our church that younger siblings plead to be able to join in every year because they “want to help hungry people too.”  (And they want to sleep out in the cardboard village.)  The Famine is so big at our church that our high school students demanded we do a 40 Hour Famine, because “that is what they do in Australia, and we can’t let them be more dedicated than we are.”  The Famine is kind of a big deal for us.

That is why a one-minute conversation I had at the end of our last Famine made such an impact on me.

We had just broken our 30 Hour/40 Hour fast, and teens were rapidly devouring all of the food in sight.  Our overall fundraising total had been announced, our top fundraisers recognized, and our volunteers had been thanked.  The laughter was abundant and the celebration underway.  In the midst of this a high school student named Mary approached me looking a little dejected.

Matt, I have another check for the Famine that I just got.

That’s great Mary! We will add it to the total.”

“Okay.  It is only $100 though.”

It stopped me dead in my tracks.  “Only $100?”  For a few heartbeats I was stunned that Mary thought her $100 donation was not important.  How could this be?  Is it because she was a friend of one of the youth group regulars that wanted to join us?  Or was it because we had just recognized our “top ten”, and she felt her donation was insignificant?  Why would one of my Famine kids think that way?

As she handed the check over I asked her a simple question.  “Mary, what will this $100 do?”  Now it was her turn to look confused.  I reminded her that “only $100” would provide the food, water, medicine, and more to a hungry child for more than three months.  I reminded her that “only $100” was more than enough to save a life.  And I reminded her that her donation was monumentally important to those that have so little.

Mary broke into a big smile, said thanks, and went back to her friends.  And I walked away with a clear reminder for myself: whether you raise $100 or $10,000, whether you have 4 youth do the Famine or 400, everything we do to helps hungry children.

It’s kind of a big deal.