Once Upon a Time…


once-upon-a-time-30-hour-famineBy Luke Lang

Once upon a time we changed the world…

We came together on a humid, north Texas night in a church gym that smelled like sweaty corn chips.

It was a small group, but we were about to change things.

It was a lock-in.

Honestly, I wasn’t super excited.

I’m not a fan of lock-ins.

AND, we were doing a lock-in WITHOUT food!!

There would be no late night pizza or Mountain Dew fueling the festivities.

There would be… water, lots and lots of lukewarm bottled water.

We were doing the 30 Hour Famine with some students who usually couldn’t go 30 minutes without food.

It was an action packed night designed to keep students from thinking about the absence of Doritos.

We did some real life role-play; students drew cards that told them who they were.

They became someone other than themselves.

There is a liberating AHA in that.

They were each assigned a hurt or hurdle that they had to deal with for the next 30 hours.

Some were given a limp, some a backpack with rocks they had to carry everywhere, some blindfolds.

We became OTHER.

We built shelter from cardboard boxes.

We had really good intentions for a canned food drive. We loaded up the church van and set out in search of lima beans and potted meat.

But, our attempt to drive around town collecting canned food was thwarted by all the water we had consumed. We had to stop at a gas station or fast food place every 6 minutes for a bathroom break.

The Famine deposited some forever stuff in the lives of our students.

It gave students pause to SEE the other.

There is nothing like living in a box–even for a couple of hours–that forces you to look outside your everyday box.

They walked in the shoes of someone OTHER than themselves. It forced them to think and to feel.

Their hearts got bigger that day. They saw things they had never seen before, things that can’t be unseen.

It gave students permission to BE the other.

Walls came down.

(And not just cardboard walls).

Walls between US and OTHER.

Strange things can happen at 2:00 am when you’ve had no food.

Stomachs rumbled and so did emotions.

Students (and leaders got cranky).

And somewhere in the middle of the night, students started to let down their guard.

Real tears flow and raw stories are shared.

One of our students had been homeless and we had no idea. Several parents were out of work.

We discovered that WE were OTHER.

The world is forever changed when our perspective is changed.

It gets bigger and smaller at the same time.

Suddenly, the world is closer than you thought.

We walked away from the Famine tired and hungry and forever different.

There is a freedom in stepping outside of yourself that changes everything.

It changes you.

It changes your attitudes and perspectives.

It changes the world.

The world is changed when you see it with OTHER eyes.

Once upon a time we changed our world.