What’s the one thing you want them to remember?


By Katie Swift, 30 Hour Famine Director

It’s that time again – national 30 Hour Famine weekend is upon us! If you’re hosting a Famine event this weekend, you might be feeling a little frazzled right now (in fact, I’d be surprised if you have time to read this!). But I just want to offer you a question to focus on as you are preparing for this weekend: What’s the one thing you want your students to remember after the weekend is over?

I participated in the 30 Hour Famine back in Middle School. It was held at a camp, and churches came from all over the United Methodist Conference that one of my best friends was a part of. I would go to this event with her church because I loved that camp, and then I came to love 30 Hour Famine. My first year doing the Famine, there was a guest speaker from West Africa. He spoke to us about his childhood and how it was to grow up not having food for three full meals a day. At the time, his country was going through a devastating civil war. While I don’t remember all the details of what he told us, I do remember that it was one of the first times that I truly understood that there are things that happen all over the world that are causing people to suffer. For the first time, I realized that I have some power to help, even if it’s just by feeding and caring for one child with a $40 donation. I do vividly remember him saying, as he pointed to a spot on a map, “If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this weekend, it’s that I’m from Sierra Leone. Remember that place.” 

And I remembered that place. Years later, I went on to spend a college semester in Ghana, less than 1,000 miles from Sierra Leone. I’ve thought of that man a lot as I traveled in West Africa and as I learned about different issues, from hunger to civil wars, facing millions of people around the world. I remember him and that 30 Hour Famine experience as the first time I was introduced to the needs of the world and my ability to make a difference, even if it’s a small one. 

So, my question for you as you prepare for this weekend is: What is the one thing you want your students to remember – next week, next year, or even 15 years from now, as they look back on this experience? It might be different for your group than other groups, or maybe even for different students within your group. Maybe you just desperately want them to remember that God loves them, because maybe you’re not sure they know that. Maybe you want them to remember that there are people in need around the world and that they have the power to change things (and that they ARE changing things by fundraising for 30HF!). Maybe you want them to remember that you are there for them as perhaps the only adult in their life they can depend on… 

I want to challenge you to think about that this week, pray about it. And if things don’t feel 100% organized, or all the way prepped, just remember that not getting the schedule perfect, or having to skip an activity, will ultimately probably not make a huge impact on their experience. Just remember that one thing that you want them to walk away with, and focus on how you achieve that. 

We’ll be praying for you this weekend. May God give you clarity and focus as you prepare, good sleep these next few nights, and extra energy and strength this weekend! And may God be working in the hearts of your students, as they grow closer to Him and learn about the call that Jesus has for us to care for our brothers and sisters around the globe, from your own community, to Sierra Leone, and beyond.