30 Hour Famine Leader Profile – Brett Shoemaker


By Brien Bell

bell.leader profile.brettBrett Shoemaker is a twenty-year veteran of youth ministry leadership who, until just over a year ago, had served as youth leader and youth director in churches in Spokane and Puyallup, WA. In the fall of 2014, Shoemaker and his family traveled about 700 miles south to the city of Sacramento, where he was ordained and installed as the youth pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church. One of newly-ordained Pastor Brett’s first big “events” with the Faith youth program would be the 30 Hour Famine, the 20th year for Faith’s involvement. I talked to Brett a little bit about what it was like coming into a new place and stepping into a very important weekend, for everyone involved.

When did you first hear about World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine?

Having been in youth ministry for over 20 years, I have had various experiences with the 30 Hour Famine. We had done it alone with our church, with several others, skipped a few years, and engaged with semi-randomness. Upon arrival at Faith Presbyterian, it was like a re-awakening. The consistency and passion with which the leaders of Faith Youth led this event year after year is remarkable, and wonderful to see the kids respond and really know and understand what is coming with very little promotion.

What was your first experience at Faith with the Famine like? What did you do, what did you learn, etc.?

As the Youth Pastor, I had a big hand in setting up the logistics of the event, but I was amazed at the level of energy put in by volunteers to make all of the extras happen, from huts for the tribes and decoration, to games and icebreakers and service projects. I learned a great deal simply by being a part of the event as a leader, but also gained more insight (along with the kids) about the reality of poverty around the world.

What’s one way that you were challenged by the 30 Hour Famine?

My daughter got sick in the middle of the night, cutting out my own sleep, and I was sad to have to take her home, wanting her first experience to be a good one. I was further challenged though, that she returned in the morning to join in the work projects because she really wanted to take part and make a difference.

Is there anything from that first experience that will shape how you approach the 30 Hour Famine going forward?

I am hoping to build on the momentum and awareness that is already built within this group and church. My hope is to involve other adults and use this as a great way to connect our kids with others in the congregation that they don’t already know in some way.

Why is the 30 Hour Famine important, to you and to the youth you serve with?

It is not only important, I think, but critical, to have opportunities (aside from leaving the country) to really understand poverty on a global level. Even in the church, this is one of the few chances to really focus on the issue and watch the hearts of kids catch fire to want to change the world where they can.