...which is why I am so proud to be a member of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Tallahassee. Holy Comforter's youth group participates in the 30 Hour Famine each year. The Famine is a 30-hour fast (only juice is consumed) sponsored by World Vision. Through their participation in the Famine, the youth raise funds for World Vision with the purpose of funding projects in developing countries that will aid sustainable development of agricultural and hydrating systems.
Each year, World Vision selects one country to focus on for the creation of games, studies, and other activities to help the youth better understand the dire food shortages in other countries. This year, World Vision chose Haiti.
The Famine is observed through a 30 Hour Famine Lock-in; the youth started at noon on Friday, February 25 and broke their fast with communion at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 26. During the event, the youth participated in a service project that raised awareness of the needs in Tallahassee while recognizing the growing needs in other communities.
I met with the youth group briefly Wednesday night to learn a bit about their expectations (as well as the experiences of "veterans"). Our youth shared these comments:
"We raise money to give to a country that World Vision picks out." (Chris)
"We do a service project." (Youth Group Member)
"Food never tasted so good as when the Famine ends." (Matthew)
"We helped at the food closet last year." (Christina)
"My family plans to help Honduras in addition to participating in the Famine through Living Water for Roatan." (Bailey)
"My parents were astonished." (Youth Group Member)
"One of our goals is to raise $360." (Logan) (Note: if the group raises $360 they have raised enough to help feed and care for a child for a year.)
It's not just youth who invest emotionally and physically in the Famine. Our Assistant Priest, Mother Teri, shared her nervous excitement about participating in the Famine for the first time. She said she had never gone without food for that long and admitted her apprehensions. She also said that our Priest, Father Ted, had shared that facing those anxieties is probably something that the Famine will help her do - this will be a needed step in her spiritual journey. I caught up with Mother Teri after the Famine ended, and she had this to say:
This time together helped us to bond more as a group, but the bonding was just the beginning. Because we didn't have anything in our stomachs for 30 hours, it helped us spiritually to got more in touch with ourselves, our goals, values, and most importantly, our brothers and sisters in Christ across the world. We watched videos on the devastation in Haiti, participated in activities that helped us to understand lack of food, water, and education, and helped each other understand our desires for the future. We walked away from this experience knowing that we were different and that we would make a difference in our world from now on.
Other churches in Tallahassee participated in the Famine also, such as St. Paul's United Methodist Church. My daughter's friend, Genna, participated at St. Paul's and had this to say:
"it was amazing, we did sooo many activities that it was impossible to think about eating. i loved it so much."
To quote from the 30 Hour Famine materials:
Like all things, progress begins with a first step.
History begins with a single word.
And sometimes that word is "NO."
(special thanks to Bailey Spitzner for significant contributions to the text of this post)