Dropping The Ball


By Joel Dunn

I remember leading my very first 30 Hour Famine back when I was just a wee lad (at the age of 22). I thought I was a big deal because I finally was a Youth Pastor and I was one at a fairly young age. I thought I had it all together and that this 30 Hour Famine was going to be one of the best in the history of forever because I [clap] AM [clap] AWESOME! Wow… let me tell you I get served a piece of humble pie that night.

So there I was with 40+ teenagers who were dropped off at 7pm at the church. We started our fast that morning at 6:00am and we fasted on a Friday, so the students did a whole day of school, sports, and extra curricular activities before we met up. As they showed up to the church they were already in a cranky mood (a.k.a. ‘hangry’). I knew exactly what they needed that night… DODGEBALL and GAMES! I thought, “what could go wrong?” 

Lots of things went wrong… Lots [clap] Of [clap] Things! As we started playing some crazy games with lots of running around I noticed a couple of the students were feeling dizzy. They were also losing color in their faces. I went to go grab them juice to get their blood sugar back up and gave it to them. Within 5 seconds of this student chugging the juice, that same juice decided to come back out into this world and all over me. As that happened other students were watching and it turned into the carnival scene from The Sandlot. Please Google that scene if you don’t know it (or maybe just use your imagination).

As we started cleaning up that mess we saw that we were missing multiple kids. They decided to leave and to go to the mall that was a couple of blocks over. Luckily one of the students had a cell phone and PICKED up! They said they weren’t going to come back. We ended up calling their parents and they were furious with me and my team. 

After that whole ordeal got sorted out around midnight, we decided to go into worship. As we were finally getting centered and calming down one of my leaders said, “Hey there are 6 cop cars outside and a police helicopter. I think something bad is happening across the street.” So we went into our lockdown procedures and we started hearing banging on our doors. We got everyone into a small room and I realized one of my leaders was not there. I went searching for him but I also brought a bat in my hand as a “just in case”. I went outside to see what was going on. My leader was handcuffed and on the ground. The cops immediately see me with bat in hand and draw their weapons and tell me to put the bat down and to get on the ground. I chucked the bat and laid down. I was so confused with what was going on. The cops then asked me questions as I was laying face down on the sidewalk. I told them who I was and what was going on. The Sergeant said, “We had neighbors call in that they heard violent noises coming from the inside and they also heard teenagers yelling “Help me, I can’t move”. (Note to self: don’t play freeze tag at 11:30pm.)

The cops walked into the church saw 40+ students, laughed, and said, “Good luck.” After that I told the students, “Time to go to bed”. I threw away all of the others plans we had for the night because I dropped the ball and basically failed. I was ashamed and thought I would never do a 30 Hour Famine again. I sat with all the bad feels that night.

The next morning when we all woke up after the whirlwind of the night, the students wanted to have solo silent time. They decided that they wanted to spend quiet time with God. I was completely blown away! Then at 11:00am the students all started helping in the kitchen as we prepared our noon victory meal. As we made Pasta, some of the students said, “Wow last night was crazy! I love Youth Group!!!” and “I’m so excited for the next one of these!” Again I was in shock. I thought I did damage to these kids, but luckily God is in charge. I dropped the ball so many times during this event but I can honestly say GOD was in control. Sometimes we go through crazy things so that we can be sharpened, humbled, and stretched. I know I approach every event differently now because of how GOD stretched me during that first Famine event.

So noon hits, and kids started scarfing their food… and let me tell you it basically turned into the blueberry pie scene from Stand By Me. Please Google that scene if you don’t know it (or maybe just use your imagination)!