Fearing the Famine: How not participating is starving your ministry



By Sara Clark

“Students loving God and fighting hunger.” What’s to fear about that? That’s what our ministries are supposed to be all about –seeing our love for God radically transform our lives, and positively impact the lives of those around us. This sounds a lot like what Jesus did in his ministry. More than that, it’s what Jesus told us to do:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.-John 15:12 (NRSV)

I hear stories of the amazing ways youth are showing their love by feeding the hungry and advocating for the oppressed after experiencing the 30 Hour Famine. I have to ask myself why, in my four years as a Youth Director, I have not participated in this event.

It’s not that I don’t know about 30 Hour Famine, because I participated with my youth group in high school. We did an amped-up version where we decided to “go big” and do a multi-church 40 Hour Famine. Call us overachievers, but we committed to start fasting that day during school. Throughout the weekend we learned about world hunger, and stayed busy with different service projects.

I still remember the moment we completed the canned-food scavenger hunt. We were making our way back to the church, when we came to a stoplight. There he was, a homeless man, sitting with his cardboard sign asking for help. I decided to jump out of the car and hand him some cans of food. He politely thanked me, and I turned and got back in the car.

In the following weeks, I wondered if that was really what Jesus meant when he commanded us to love. I mean, did that man even have access to a can opener? Did I even look him in the eye or think to ask him his name? The straight answer is no.

I guess that’s why I fear the Famine. I fear that inevitably, teens will focus solely on the need, and overlook the person in need.

Unfortunately, I’ve allowed this fear to feed the ignorance of my teens, and I’ve starved them of knowing about a growing world issue that affects their very own classmates. You see, it’s not just about spending 30 hours without food. It’s about giving teens the chance to care; the chance to be a part of the solution. Because in order to care about the need, we have to first care about the person in need. Like Jesus said, it starts with love.

For me and the ministry I lead, it’s time to take the Famine off the shelf and dig in.