30 Hour Reunion



By Matt Andrews

One of the classic frustrations we face working with students is the “selective memory” of young brains.  We put together a great lesson or a great event, knowing full well that the whole thing might be forgotten six months from now.  Maybe three months.  Let’s face it: we’ll be happy if they still remember the point we were trying to make next week!

The first generation of students I worked with are all adults now, and one of my favorite things to do is ask them if they remember anything I taught them.  It’s always surprising, usually humorous, and sometimes profound to be reminded of something that God laid on my heart back then that I’d forgotten completely.  In those cases it’s hard to blame them for forgetting things, too!

Interestingly, it’s often “events” that students remember later: lock-ins, fundraisers, camp, or mission trips.  Some have mentioned the 30 Hour Famine specifically when I ask.  After I’d had several of these same conversations it occurred to me how often I moved right from one topic to another in ministry, failing to reinforce or re-visit lessons later, even when I knew they were especially important ones.

In Luke 4 we read the story of Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness: the classic tale of his temptation by Satan after he reached the limit of physical weakness and hunger.  I’ve always incorporated this story of Jesus’ epic fast into preparation for Famine events, because I wanted to make sure the students understood that 30 Hour Famine is more than a fundraiser.  It’s also about facing what happens to our hearts when we deprive ourselves of something for just a little while, and we become more vulnerable.

Recently I read Luke 4 again. But this time it was the end of the story that stayed with me; the last word about what happened after Jesus successfully endured the fast and Satan’s temptation: “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13, NIV).  In The Message translation it reads, “That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.”

I hate to think of students learning profound lessons during an event, only to forget them and give in to the world’s temptations later.  A great way to reinforce the 30 Hour Famine experience (and remind students of what they learned) is to plan a “30 Hour Reunion.”  Three to six months after the event, schedule a “feast” or an ice cream party, and put together all the photos and videos you took during the Famine into a presentation.  Give students the mic to share their favorite funny and serious memories from the event.  Take the opportunity to remind them of the lessons they learned that might have faded.  Decorate your space with 30 Hour Famine props and pictures and enjoy the time together, knowing that–even though temptation is always lying in wait–your students are twice as likely to remember the important lessons you tried to teach them by participating in the Famine.