After Your 30 Hour Famine Event is Over: Now What?


By Eric Woods

I boarded the plane for home. It had been more than six months since I had set foot on American soil, and in my heart there was a mix of excitement—for things like fresh bagels and Pop-Tarts and seeing my mom—and apprehension. Every week during my time living and serving in that orphanage on the north coast of the Dominican Republic I had asked the same question of the members of the American mission teams who had served with us: Now what?

Actually, the question was more like, “What are you going to do or do differently because of what you experienced this week?” And now it was my turn to answer that question.

What were my wife and I, and our kids (then 4, 6 and 8 years old), going to do, or do differently, because of what we had experienced living and working in one of the poorest places in the Western Hemisphere?

This is the critical question. It’s the question that turns a “mission trip” into a lifelong mission. It’s the question that transforms a world traveler into a world changer. And it’s the question that can extend the impact of events like 30 Hour Famine long after the breakfast is shared and the checks are mailed.

Asking this question brings the mission home. It gives students, leaders and donors a chance to have a continuing impact among the poor and marginalized in your own community.

Asking this question embeds the mission in their hearts. Participants get the opportunity to see how involvement in missions is more than just checking boxes. (Mission trip? Check. Money raised? Check. Stayed up all night? Check.) It serves to connect God’s heart for his world and people with ours.

And asking this question extends the mission. Because, let’s be honest… God doesn’t just call us to be 30-hour-missionaries or 30-hour-Christians. God calls us to live a life committed to his mission. Every day.

It took me longer than that flight home to answer the question for myself.

In fact, it took me several months to realize how my time living and working with orphans in the developing world would change my life forever. Eventually I stumbled on the reality that there were thousands of children in my home state (13,000 in Michigan) living apart from their families of origin, mostly in foster care… and that there was a chronic shortage of families willing to welcome them into their homes.

We decided this was our answer. And, since 2009, our family has welcomed more than a dozen children into our home (not all at the same time!). Our biological children have been able to see firsthand how they can love and serve those in need wherever they are. And it has changed the direction of my ministry—I now serve as the pastor for about 70 kids living in a residential treatment facility.

So, Famine may be over for this year… but your mission isn’t. Take time this week to ask your students what they’re going to do or do differently because of their Famine experience. Who and how will they serve in their own community?

And, then, answer the question yourself. How has Famine changed you? What’s next?

(By the way, here’s a shameless plug: May is National Foster Care Month. It’s a great time to identify and bless families in your church or community who welcome children in need into their homes. Consider offering a night of free childcare for foster families so parents can get a much needed date night. Collect and pack diaper bags with essentials, then deliver them to your local hospitals for families bringing newborns home into foster care. Send notes of blessing and encouragement to the foster care case workers at agencies in your county.)