Tyconda Millsap, left, and Paige Young arrange bedding inside a structure held together by duct tape in preparation for a cardboard campout. The South Church of God youth slept outside as a part of their 30 Hour Famine to experience how it may feel to not have a home. Daily Leader photo/Lauren Vincent
By LAUREN VINCENT
• Daily Leader
In recent weeks, 20 local youth set aside 30 hours to abstain from food. Placing comfort aside, they caught a glimpse of what life is like for thousands of children living in poverty.
In developing countries, more than 25,000 children under the age of 5 die each day. Most from preventable causes such as disease, poverty and hunger. That’s one child every seven seconds.
World Vision is a Christian not-for-profit organization that confronts poverty by bringing nourishing food, clean drinking water, immunizations, clothing and an education to children in need across America and around the world. World Vision has created an experience especially for teens called the 30 Hour Famine.
Thousands of youth participate annually raising approximately $10 million for kids who are not as fortunate as they themselves. Averaged out it costs only one dollar a day to care for a child.
For a generation passionate about bringing poverty to an end, the 30 Hour Famine is a tangible tool to help young people make a difference in their world.
During the famine six youth from the South Church of God not only endured 30 hours without food but also played games helping them identify with real Ethiopian children being assisted by World Vision, watched a movie detailing the brutal war in northern Uganda and slept outside in cardboard boxes overnight. They collected canned goods and helped set up at the Bread of Life Pantry for Saturday distribution. The group also lent a hand by walking dogs at the Liberal Animal Shelter.
The First Southern Baptist youth group traveled north to join efforts with the First Baptist Church in Holcomb. During the 30 Hour Famine these 14 students participated in a prayer walk of the Holcomb area. They collected canned goods for Emmaus House in Garden City and did a Religion Opinion Survey for the First Baptist Church. They also participated in games that helped them experience what it would be like to be hungry on a daily basis.
While many teens do not abstain from food for 30 seconds, Elizabeth Artis of the South Church of God confirms it is no easy task to shy away from eating for 30 hours.
“The 30 Hour Famine was an eye opening experience where I learned what some of the kids all over America, and the world, go through every day of their lives,” Artis said. “Going without food was the hardest for me. It seems as though the only thing I do all the time is eat. When I was sitting at the lunch table at school and everyone around me was eating, my stomach was talking to me like never before.”
Artis went on to explain that, although difficult, it was an important experience that she was glad she had not avoided.
“I encourage everyone to at least do it once to get a glimpse of what these kids go through,” she said.
Desirae Courkamp, of the First Southern Baptist group, points out that it was when she united with others to serve that her stomach pangs lost their bite.
“The 30 Hour Famine was much more than just 30 hours with an empty stomach,” Courkamp said. “It was funny to me how food didn’t even cross our minds when we were solely focused on the needs of the community and the hungry children we raised money for. It was amazing how God united our two youth groups as His hands and feet to serve with selfless hearts for a weekend. The team challenge games, the prayer walking, and the work we did in Holcomb’s community gave us all the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones and be who God calls us to be.”
This call was heard by more than one local youth.
“I have never been to anything like the 30 Hour Famine,” said Blake Brenneman, also of First Southern Baptist. “Getting over the hunger was hard but all the mission work we did made us forget about it. Not eating for 30 hours really makes you realize that God wants you to get out there and do stuff for him and not think about how hard it’s going to be.”
Together the three groups raised more than $1,200. This will help improve the lives of three children for slightly longer than a year.
To emphasize the importance of his experience with the 30 Hour Famine, Brenneman concluded: “Really the only thing better than eating for 30 hours, is not eating for 30 hours.”
More information about the famine can be found at www.30hourfamine.org or www.worldvision.org.