Broken Shells




By Brian Mateer

I live with my wife and four daughters in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.  As the weather warms and the season changes to spring and summer, many people in this region travel approximately five hours to the beaches of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.  Like many other families, the Mateers loaded the minivan and headed to Myrtle Beach, SC for a week over spring break.

The temperature was wonderful for the week reaching the mid-seventies, but the water was too cold for us to enjoy.  Much of our days consisted of building sand castles, flying kites, walking the beach and collecting shells.

My daughters’ favorite way to spend their time was by collecting shells.  Each one wanted to bring home a shell to her classmates, teachers, grandparents and friends.  As we walked down the beach with their sand buckets, I was looking for the perfect shell without blemish.  They on the other hand were just gathering shells left and right.  My head was on a swivel as all four came running and saying, “Look at this one daddy!”

I would look at the shell and say, “That’s nice!” all the while thinking “That’s just a broken shell.”

With each broken shell going into a bucket I began to soften.  Their infectious wonder, amazement and enthusiasm began to rub off on me.  I began to wonder and be amazed.

“I wonder how old this shell is.”

“Could we be the first humans to see and touch this particular broken shell?”

“How much of God’s creation will remain unseen to humans for its existence?”

“The colors and layers of this broken shell are truly amazing.”

In January 2013, I was honored to have the opportunity to go on a youth leader “Vision Trip” with the 30 Hour Famine team to Zimbabwe.  We had the opportunity to meet children that benefited from funds raised by teenagers that participated in the 30 Hour Famine.  We also met children along the way that did not have this vital support.  The contrast between the two was striking:  lifeless eyes versus bright gleaming eyes, blank stares verses big grins, lethargic standing or sitting versus chasing bubbles and soccer balls.

By participating in the 30 Hour Famine we have the opportunity to give the gift of wonder, enthusiasm and amazement.  Teenagers make a real difference in the lives of real children, giving opportunities for children to wonder in the simplicity Jesus spoke of in Mark 10:15:

‘Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

I invite you to wonder and be amazed.  I invite you to do the same for others.  Really, that’s what Doing the Famine is all about!