i’ve been a fan of world vision’s 30 hour famine for a long, long time. in fact, i participated in what was then called the “planned famine” when i was a teenager myself. every year, 30 hour famine engages thousands of youth groups around the world in activism and education to provide food and other basic necessities to the millions of people around the world who suffer from hunger. 30 hour famine is one of those very tangible youth ministry experiences that doesn’t involve putting teenagers on planes and taking them on costly trips. and yet, it provides a great combination of expanded world view, understanding god’s heart for the poor (a pretty good place for us to meet god ourselves!), and developmentally helpful “getting my attention off of myself” that’s so rare in the everyday lives of teenagers.
in the years that YS had a partnership with world vision around a very cool program called One Life Revolution, i had regular contact with the famine team. and i was always impressed by their passion, their expertise, their desire to serve youth workers, and their hearts to see teenagers moved.
and — this is just one guy’s opinion — but i felt like famine went through a little slump in recent years. i have no interest in trying to guess why, other than that all efforts like this (just like all organizations) have natural life-cycles, and significant renewal is needed if the effort (or organization) is going to continue to experience vibrancy and truly serve and engage their “customers” (in this case, youth workers).
but i’m feeling downright bullish about the next chapter of the 30 hour famine, due to a couple conversations i’ve had in the last few months with the new leadership. in particular, leah swindon has come on board as the new national director. i’ve had two lengthy conversations and multiple email exchanges with leah (and michele tvedt, famine’s “youth leader advisor”), and i leave every conversation and email exchange with more energy then when i entered. they’re passionate about what they do, passionate about teenagers and youth leaders, and (this is probably the part that encourages me the most) open to ideas and change. any organization that stops saying “this is how we do things” and starts saying “we want to change” puts itself in a place where great things can happen.
30 hour famine is partnering with The Youth Cartel on The Summit, and maybe some other stuff. and i’m pleased about that. but, honestly, hand to heart, i would choose no partnership but a vibrant season of fresh development and hopeful growth for 30 hour famine over the opposite (partnership, but with a 30 hour famine that is anemic and same ‘ol, same ‘ol).
i read leah’s 30 hour famine blog post about her new start after these conversations; and i can confirm that it’s not spin, not fake promises. she’s the real deal, and i’m truly pumped to both be partnering with them, and to see what will develop in famine-land over the next year or two.