Two weekends ago, a number of students and leaders in our youth ministry here at First Baptist Church had the opportunity to participate in an event some might think unconventional by today’s youth group standards. For 30 hours, Saturday, March 15th at 4 am until Sunday morning at 10 am, First Baptist students and leaders fasted in order to gain a greater understanding of the simple need for nourishment that so many around the world go without. Instead of eating and engaging in their normal Saturday activities, everyone took part in a prayer walk around the homeless areas of downtown Boise, challenging games, Bible studies and journaling sessions all leading to one restless night in “cardboard city” (otherwise known as our very own youth center, the Hub).
But more than any of the activities or time spent gardening in the River of Life’s flower beds, students experienced God in a whole new way during those thirty hours. Without food, students found themselves relying on the great and supportive community of students and leaders around them, sharing a few laughs and stories instead of soda pop and French fries. More than that, every attendant found themselves in God’s sustaining presence, relying on his strength and Word to carry them through the craving-filled weekend.
The group pored over a number of Bible passages as they related to the games and activities teams (or “tribes” as we called them) competed in. I encourage you to read them for yourself. Our hope and prayer as a staff is that you will be encouraged by them as we were during the 30 Hour Famine:
- John 7:37-39
- John 11:1-44
- Mark 10:13-16
- Deuteronomy 31:8
- Matthew 10:29-31
- Philippians 4:10-13
- Isaiah 40:27-31
What do these verses tell us about Jesus and His love for us? How can we find strength and encouragement in Him after reading these passages? Reading these verses for myself during the devotion times taught me never to underestimate a familiar passage in Scripture. God is always ready to teach us something new every time we pick up the Bible. For example, normally when I read Isaiah 40, I focus on the “mounting up with wings like eagles;” (v. 31, ESV). The 30 Hour Famine taught me to look at the whole passage and what it is trying to teach me. What does it mean to you that “your way” (i.e., your struggles, your life’s journey) is not hidden from God, but that his strength outlasts it all? I encourage you to pray over these verses and ask the Father to help you be content in whatever situation, as Paul says in Philippians, and trust in his provision.
Some of the best moments of the weekend were the “what are you craving?” videos recorded throughout the early part of the day. From Chick Fil-A to pretzels, students laughed as their stomachs grumbled. But that’s just it! A number of them asserted that they weren’t hungry, but instead were enjoying themselves. Enjoying themselves? During a fast?! It sounds crazy, but sometimes that’s what truly experiencing God and depending completely on his power will get you: joy.
A big thank you to Tori Burchfield for making this event more than an idea and to Mandy Steinmetz for helping it get there.
Thank you to Matt Priebe, Tara Driscoll, and Jeremy Arbon for sacrificing your time (and your stomachs) this weekend alongside your students and fellow volunteers.
Thank you also to Sheila Mader, Brad Smith and Danika Charters for bringing in some wisdom, fun and big laughs.
Big thanks also to Mark Burchfield, who built me an awesome cardboard castle to sleep in.
Finally, thank you to all the parents who cooked an awesome breakfast for us the next morning. It was delicious and much appreciated!
Nick Binsacca - Jr. High Director