The 24 Year, 30 Hour “Mission Trip”

Danny Kwon

Danny Kwon

By Danny Kwon

When I was recently asked to be part of the team of writers for the 30 Hour Famine blog, I was like, “Sure, we love that event. Been doing it for 24 years now.”  I didn’t know at that time that this is actually the 25th anniversary of the 30 Hour Famine. I thought, “Wow,” and wondered if that was some kind of record.  Thinking more soberly, I thought to myself, “Why have we done the 30 Hour Famine for so long?”  So I started thinking about that for my first blog post.  And I came up with a few reasons.

First, as a long time youth (and family) pastor at my church, I love all the ideas and suggestions that come with doing the 30 Hour Famine.  It is not that I have used and done every event or activity that came with the materials that World Vision sends for the Famine.  But they certainly give this youth worker quality choices of things I can do with my youth group for the event.  Some years, we used only the videos they sent us.  This year, we used two of the games/activities as part of our event (and those two activities took 90 minutes!).  I also really like the materials that are provided for in-depth study and looking at scripture more in depth, as well as learning about hunger issues worldwide.  My favorite activity ever was when, one year, our youth group made shelters out of cardboard and slept.  Overall, the variety of activities and material gives students various ways to experience so many different things about hunger, brokenness, the needs in our world, and how students can be change agents for God’s kingdom.

Second, with recent critiques about the value of youth ministry short-term mission trips, I understand where some of these critiques are coming from.  Probably one of the biggest critiques of STM trips is that they are “short” term.   In other words, our churches and youth groups must have a healthier missiology and more than just a “short-term” summer thing.  The 30 Hour Famine has provided for my youth group a way to do “missions” more than just as a “short-term” or summer/spring break event.  It is a time during the school year where I can emphasize to our students that a life of missions and service is not just a summer or “short-term” thing.  Just the timing of the 30 Hour Famine, as we do it in the spring of each year, reminds our students that we are called to a life of missions and as Christians, we are always on God’s mission.  So for us, the 30 Hour Famine is more like a 30 Hour “mission” trip, where mission is not just a summer thing, but something to remind us that Christians are called to mission as part of their whole lives, year round.

Finally, I love the 30 Hour Famine because it has become, for our students and me, an opportunity to serve.  This may take some work for the youth pastor and adult leaders.  But we have made the last 24 years of doing the 30 Hour Famine a time to partner and go and serve a community or group as part of our Famine event.  For example, our youth group has gone to a local mission organization to do a clean-up day for their missionary compound, served at a home for neglected and abused children, and gone to food banks; and this year, we helped serve Easter meals to those in need with other churches in our area.  And one note on this, every few years, we also stay at our own church to do service projects and clean-up for our own congregation.  Any youth pastor will know that their Senior Pastor (and church) will love that.

Ultimately, there are a lot more reasons why I love the 30 Hour Famine.  There must be, because I can’t believe it has been 24 years of doing it!  But what I can say as a long time, veteran youth worker is that if you take some time and a little effort, it can be an amazing blessing for your church and youth group.