The Famine as Good News in the Neighborhood


Adam McLane, Partner at The Youth Cartel

welcome-to-the-neighborhoodThe Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

John 1:14 (The Message)

I have a particular affinity for the 30 Hour Famine.

As a high school junior– new to youth group and sorting out what a life with Jesus could offer me, I participated in the 30 Hour Famine with my youth group in Hanau, Germany. My buddy Harold and I ditched class and snuck off campus for lunch at a Sbarro’s at the PX on our base.  We ordered a large pizza and a couple sodas and stuffed ourselves. It was a minor indiscretion for what we were about to endure, right? We were going to starve ourselves for 30 hours to raise money for kids somewhere. Surely God understood.

My first Famine experience came at a time of famine for me. At the end of my sophomore year my mom married a guy in the Army and that lead to me living on an Army base my junior year. Sure, I wasn’t starving in the literal sense. But I was starving for friendship, a sense of belonging, and and finding some reason for my being stuck on an Army base 3,000 miles from my home in South Bend, Indiana. I felt like I was exiled, like God was mad at me, and I desperately missed my friends back home.

After school we all made our way over to the middle school gym to find our youth pastor, Dan, his wife, and a couple youth group volunteers waiting for us. I’d missed the Winter retreat and this was my first real event with the group. Youth group was great. But everyone talked about how awesome all-nighters and road trips were.

I don’t remember all of the details of the next 24 hours. I know we played some games. I know were learned a lot about global hunger. I remember experiencing the hunger pains and connecting that to children without food in other parts of the world. I remember getting far too little sleep. And I remember doing a service project where we laughed more than worked. And I remember a family from the youth group hosting a big celebration at the end when we all got to eat.

The Famine’s Impact

For me, the 30 Hour Famine was a turning point.

A by-product was raising money for World Vision. But, to steal a line from this year’s Famine, the 30 Hour Famine RELEASED A FEAST in me personally. Those 30 hours were the first 30 hours of good news I’d experienced in a dark, dreary time of starvation in my life. Those 30 hours, even the part where we ditched class to go get pizza– were like feeling the sun’s warmth cutting through a winter chill to remind you that summer was coming.

For me, my first 30 Hour Famine experience marked the beginning of Spring in my walk with Jesus.

I share this for this reason: I’m a firm believer that in a post-Christian world students need to experience good news before they can experience THE Good News of Jesus. As you’re preparing for your 30 Hour Famine, whether it’s your first time hosting it or your 20th, please don’t forget that connecting the good news of raising money to end world hunger with the good news of inviting teenagers into your ministry.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” And that good news is desperately needed in your neighborhood.