A “Famine” Community


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By Kali DiMarco

I became a youth minister by accident. Actually, it was God’s plan, but I knew nothing about it. When I think of the lovely “Footprints” poem, I can’t help but think about what the beach looked like around the time of my becoming someone who works with teens full time. I see Jesus’ feet and two long wiggling lines: me, being dragged.

This was around the year 2000 and my life was simple. I had a successful career as a graphic designer, a wonderful husband and three small children. And then, overnight, I was a full-time youth minister. Without a clue as to what a youth minister was. I stumbled through the first couple of years and then a couple of the teens asked me about something called a “30 Hour Famine.” None of this sounded good to me. The thought of 30 hours or the thought of no food for anyone involved. Finally, in 2004 they wore me down and we embarked in our first Famine.

We had 29 high school students and a handful of adults to help out. We had no clue (see the theme here?) what we were doing, but we jumped in fully. We made a “hunger chain” out of 29,000 cable ties which was almost ½ mile long. The kids raised $4,000 and we thought we were all that.

You can probably guess where this has led, but at that time, I could not. Last year our Famine consisted of more than 200 high school and middle school youth and they raised more than $48,000. Over the past 12 years, they have raised almost $260,000. It is mostly a blur, but it includes a popsicle stick cross, Hunger House, five of our students traveling to Africa with World Vision, two art shows, a little boy named Abel in Malawi, a water bottle arch, toilet paper fashion show, prayer wheels, a wall of canned food, a prayer service in silhouette, one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan speaking to us, pink hair, pies thrown in faces, toilets moving all over town and the kissing of a pig.

It all makes me smile and gives me much joy, but it is what happened to our small parish that holds the most meaning for me. During those 12 years we went from one very unsure youth minister doing something fun with a group of teens for two days, to a community that is committed to something much bigger than ourselves. From the youngest member of our parish to the oldest, we are a “Famine community.” The entire parish is involved and we have now included many other churches in our yearly 30 Hour Famine. Each and every person has a part in this endeavor, and we have committed ourselves to the plight of hunger in our own town and in our world. It is mind-boggling for me to realize what we have done and will continue to do, and how it has impacted our teens, our parish, our town, those we serve, and me. God is Good.

And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.  Job 8:7