Thanksgiving. As you read that word, do images of turkeys and all sorts of other savory foods come to mind. It is a wonderful event often marked by spending time with family; a time to enjoy and remember all the things that we should be thankful for. Yet as we celebrate with a large feast, there are millions throughout the world that go hungry. UNICEF reports that every 3.6 seconds, someone in the world dies of starvation (typically that person is a child under the age of 5). You might be thinking to yourself, wow, that turned bleak very quickly. But this is what is happening in the world around us no matter how much we may try to ignore it. I share this with you not to sadden your day – quite the contrary actually. I share this with you to remind you just how much we have been blessed and should be giving thanks, but also with the hope that in this time of thanksgiving, you are moved to help others.
These numbers are not some abstract idea, but represent real people. World Vision shares one story of an 11 year old boy, Salissou, living in Niger. With his dad away looking for work, young Salissou has to carry his younger sister on his back walking for 2 1⁄2 hours on a dirt road in the hot sun to get to a health center. She has a fever, and the clinic says that she is malnourished. This is a country where 1⁄4 of all children die before the age of five. And if they survive, many suffer from serious malnutrition which can cause damaging effects for the rest of their lives. As you see a picture of young Salissou telling his story, your heart breaks as you realize that this is a story shared by all too many children.
Hunger is an enormous problem in the world, but the solution starts with just one person choosing not to ignore it any longer; making a choice to do something about it. That’s what our youth have chosen to do this year by participating in the 30 Hour Famine, a lock-in at our church on Nov. 20-21 where they will fast for 30 hours.
Why fast? It’s one of those spiritual disciplines we read frequently about in Scripture often in conjunction with prayer, but simply doesn’t seem to be practiced as frequently anymore. But just because it isn’t done as much now, doesn’t mean that it isn’t important and beneficial in our Christian walk. It is a practice that should be done more often. The act of withholding food is a way to take our focus off of the things of this world and turn our focus and complete attention towards God. Fasting is a way to humble ourselves before God, gain a new perspective, and deepen our relationship with Him as we turn to Him and realize our dependence upon Him.
This is an opportunity for our students to grow closer to Christ and to each other as they fast together for thirty hours putting themselves in the shoes of those who go hungry every day throughout the world. They will raise funds to help make a difference to fight hunger. Every $35 raised will help feed and care for a child for an entire month. If you would like to help, there are three ways to do so. First, pray for them. This may be the first time some of them have ever fasted. It will be hard. Pray that their focus isn’t just on being hungry, but also in their relationship with Christ, and that this experience will produce lasting change in their lives. Second, encourage them. Ask them about this experience and let them know that you’ll be praying for them. And third, financially support this fundraiser to fight hunger. You can drop off a donation in our church office or give online by going to www.30hourfamine.org/donate/ and selecting the “Find Now” button on that page. Then type in “Mililani Baptist Church” and select one of the team members on that page to make a donation.
As a church family, we will also be collecting for SBC Global Hunger Relief (formerly known as the World Hunger Fund) where every penny collected will go directly to meeting hunger needs throughout the world. Special envelopes for this offering will be placed in our church sanctuary this month. Giving can also be done online at www.e-giving.org/mbc under the SBC Special Offerings section. There are many in need, but we can make a difference. We truly are blessed. Give thanks to God. And I hope that you are moved to pray and help the needy.