Last weekend both Janaya and I participated in an event called the 3O Hour Famine. I helped to organize/lead it and Janaya was one of 13 jr. highers who participated. Each student pledged to go 30 hours without eating, and got people to sponsor them by the hour. The event takes place in youth groups all over the country and it raises money to fight hunger through World Vision.
At one point during the 30 hours, Paul (our youth leader) and I set up 600 candles around the room. We lit them all, then turned off the lights. The kids sat in a circle of candles on the floor, and one-by-one, we began to blow them out. There were so many candles in the room, that 5 people were needed to extinguish them all--when a person ran out of breath, someone else would filled in. After about a 1/2 hour, only one candle was left.
Paul asked the students what they thought the visual represented. One kid guessed that it stood for the 600 people who die of hunger every year.
He was close.
But in fact, the candles represented the 600 children who died of hunger in the 30 minutes it took us to blow out all of the candles. Each light stood for a little boy or girl who had died in the last 1/2 hour because they had nothing to eat. It was a sobering realization.
The single candle that was still lit at the end was a symbol of how our efforts were worth it if they allowed even one child to live.
We also spent some time at Feed my Starving Children packaging food. I was so proud of everyone because even though it had been 26 hours since we had eaten, they all worked really hard. We had been to Feed My Starving Children before, and the volunteers commented that we weren't as alert and moved a lot slower this time. They challenged us to think about how hunger affects people who have to go to work everyday on an empty stomach.
We did some other fun activities to pass the time, like 4-square and Guitar Hero.
When the 30 hours were finally up, we ate a big meal together. We felt blessed in knowing that even though we had been hungry, we never doubted the fact that we would eventually eat again. So many people don't have that luxury, and we were truly thankful.
This whole event was especially meaningful to me because Aaron was so close to becoming another one of those candles that was blown out. I can't even allow myself to think of what would have happened if he would have went a little longer without nourishment. His referral picture is heart breaking, and to think that there are millions of children in the same situation is devastating.
The weekend was another reminder that I need to be focusing my resources (time, money, prayers) on issues like poverty and hunger. In the words of Mother Theresa:
"When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed"
Candle pic credit