Troutdale youth group participates in World Vision fasting event
By Slacking with Cause contributer Rob Cullivan
If you want to experience what it’s like to live abroad, stop eating.
You don’t have to leave home to feel what many people in the world experience constantly – hunger.
By fasting, you can also learn how some local people live each day, wondering if they’ll be able to put food on the table for their families.
Young people from all over the Portland/Vancouver area learned about hunger firsthand last weekend, consuming only liquids for 30 hours during a fast sponsored by World Vision – a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to tackling the cause of poverty worldwide by helping children and their communities, according to www.worldvision.org.
Now in its 17th year, World Vision’s 30-Hour Famine is designed to raise awareness and money to fight hunger around the world. More than half a million teenagers nationwide hoped to raise more than $12.5 million to fight world hunger through the fast, the organization stated.
About 700 young people representing 40 churches and groups from throughout the Portland/Vancouver area participated in the fast, according to Clark Leighton, director of family ministry at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church near Clackamas Town Center, and a regional fast organizer.
Leighton says hundreds of young people attended an evening rally at Beaverton Christian Church Friday night, Feb. 23, to bolster their spirits and learn about such issues as the need for clean water in the Third World to cut infant mortality rates.
The rally was also designed to show young people what they could do collectively to fight hunger.
“I know a lot of kids – even adults – look at the problem and say it’s so big we can’t do anything,” he says.
But people can do something when they work together.
“It’s not just our group, it’s groups around the world that are contributing to this to make a huge dent in this problem in the world.”
Middle- and high-school students from Columbia Ridge Community Church in Troutdale raised $1,470 for World Vision and collected 670 cans for the Oregon Food Bank, according to Pastor Jared Alcántara.
The young people, who fasted between 11:30 a.m. Friday and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, raised the money by soliciting pledges from friends, relatives and church members.
“It’s a really great way for our kids to understand and relate to those who are hungry because of the fasting we do, and also to raise awareness of hunger among people they know.”
He notes that by the end of the fast, the young people were “pretty weak, pretty tired and quiet.” However, they perked up when the fast ended, and they ate a dinner of pizza, salad and juice, he says.
Among those young people was Braden Thelander, 14, an eighth-grader at Dexter McCarty Middle School.
“I thought that it would be a good opportunity to do as much as I can,” he says.
He says his father traveled last fall to the African nation of Swaziland with a church group on mission to a poor area. Braden wasn’t old enough to go on the trip, so participating in the fast was the next best thing.
The young people split up in teams to collect food from Troutdale homes, and played games and prayed together during the fast.
Going without food taught Braden some valuable lessons, including giving him a sense of solidarity with the hungry.
“When people here hear that people go to bed hungry every night, their first thought is to send money to help, but just something as simple as sponsoring a child and writing them letters will show them that you care,” Braden says.
He adds that his family sponsors a little girl in Swaziland, and that his father had the privilege of meeting her and seeing the letters and drawings family members had sent her.
“She cherished them with all of her heart,” he says.
He added that he was sustained through the fast by the fact that Jesus called his followers to welcome children.
Chelsea Reardon, 17, a junior at Barlow High School, decided to fast “because I know that it will help me to remember what it feels like to be hungry and because I know that World Vision does some amazing things in Third World countries and can make a big difference in places that we can’t be.”
“I now know and understand how most people feel each day, and I’d be more than happy to fast again because I know it impacts so many people with the help of World Vision.”
She adds that she enjoyed the Beaverton rally.
“It was cool to see so many other people who were going to be hungry with us.”
She notes that collecting food for the Oregon Food Bank was also interesting.
“It was a powerful experience to see how much we collected and how generous people were! I must say, I was definitely tired after a couple hours of walking around, because we hadn’t eaten anything in awhile.”
Still, her aches and pains were worth it, she says.
“I learned that God can work in powerful and amazing ways when his believers get together and are all working toward the same goal. I learned what it feels like to be hungry and feel what it’s like to truly be hungry when all we ever feel is the feeling of ‘full’ in America.”