Get out of the way!


Emily Capes

photo 2I completed my twelfth 30 Hour Famine two weeks ago.  This was my current youth group’s first time to participate – I think it was the first time this church participated ever!

I have led the Famine in multiple ways over the years – by myself, begging for adult help, youth leadership, adult leadership, pre-planning months in advance and planning just a week or two before.  No matter what, every year, I have participated in an incredible experience.  The youth are so open to learning, struggling, growing and my life is changed through the 30 Hours.

This past year I started at Lebanon, TN First United Methodist Church in May.  I knew that I wanted the youth here to try the 30 Hour Famine but I wasn’t sure how or when. Or how to really tell them about it! Asking them to give up a weekend to go to the beach and play – that would be easy.  But to ask them to give up a weekend to not eat and learn about other children and youth around the world who live with hunger every day?  Not as easy of a new experience to start.

I started talking about it last summer and shared my experiences of the famine and my trip to Zimbabwe with World Vision with them.  And a few youth started getting really excited about it.

I asked that few if they wanted to help me lead the Famine. They said yes. I recruited a few incredible adults to help them.

I handed the curriculum, schedule, some of my past ideas and prayer stations to them about two months ago.  We had a Tribe Team, Prayer Team, Activities/Service Team and a Juicing Team.  We met a few times as an entire group and some of the teams met separately.  I really didn’t know every detail of what was going to happen during our weekend together. To be honest, I did get a little nervous the week of the Famine when I realized that one of the Tribe Games (now called the Hunger Games) would involve a fog machine and blindfolds.  But I asked a few questions to make sure it would be safe and then I got out of the way.

photo 4We had the famine two weeks ago.  It was an incredible weekend.  We had over 20 youth and 5 adults participate. We served at a local food pantry, made our own juice, did Random Acts of Kindness (one of my favorite things to do during the Famine), played Hunger Games, rested and prayed in the Prayer rooms(there were enough stations for two rooms!), did a prayer walk and learned about real people whose lives we might be able to help because we fasted and raised funds for World Vision.

I love watching the creativity of the Holy Spirit and teenagers come together.  I love seeing them come up with ideas to serve or give in ways that I would NEVER think of.

Did the weekend go smoothly?  It did.

Who in your youth group has a passion to lead?  Who might want to change the Tribe Games to fit a new theme?  Who has a heart for prayer and could create some prayer activities and stations for your group?

Do the Famine.  Get out of the way. 

Some of my youth’s responses to their first Famine:

Grace D. a 7th grader. “My favorite part of the Famine was when we did the Prayer Stations.  I really liked to have the time to just be able to sit down and think. The most challenging part about the famine for me was not being able to eat and I ended up getting really nauseous and felt sick.  I would still tell someone that was wanting to try the Famine, that I had an awesome time doing it!!  It was really an eye-opening experience!!  I can’t wait till next year!!!

Casey B. a 7th grader. “My favorite part was experiencing how much I have and how little some people have. The hardest thing was doing the prayer walk around the area and walking by a restaurant!

Maggie M. an 11th grader. “I learned a lot about how people over in Africa have to carry a lot of water for a long distance and in our Hunger Game – many of us couldn’t even hold it for 30 seconds, I loved serving at Joseph’s Store House while we were so hungry.  It was hard learning that up to 250 kids die every 7 minutes due to hunger related issues.  It was a great experience and I learned a lot by doing it.  I would definitely do the Famine again!

Maggie C. an 11th grader. “I loved how humbling the Famine was. How when I came home I actually chose not to eat food.  I could have had any food I wanted.  It was hard and eye-opening to realize that most people don’t have that luxury.  I absolutely loved blessing people during the day doing “Random Acts of Kindness” also! I felt like we made a difference, even if we didn’t meet our goal.  It gave me a different perspective on service.  I would tell someone thinking about doing the Famine to DEFINITELY do it.  I think it increases your dependence on God even if for just a short time. I think dependence on God takes practice.  We think we have everything under control ourselves, and it’s unnerving and beautiful to realize that we don’t.