:::days twenty nine and thirty::: FAST FROM FOOD

saturday, october 17 to sunday, october 18
About one in seven people worldwide do not have enough food to sustain them; 350 to 400 million children are hungry right now; and every five seconds a child dies of causes related to malnutrition, according to the World Food Program. And yet, enough food is available on our planet to adequately feed each of its 6.7 billion inhabitants… if only it was evenly produced and distributed. For thirty short hours, you can choose to taste the kind of hunger experienced by millions on a daily basis by opting not to eat anything between breakfast today and lunch tomorrow. During your time of fasting, be sure to drink plenty of water and juice, but more importantly, let your groaning stomach remind you to pray for others around the world whose stomachs are also empty.
Eat a simple meal this morning before starting your day, and in place of lunch, dinner, and breakfast tomorrow, spend time with Jesus asking how He can use you to bring His Kingdom on this earth. Conclude your fast at lunchtime tomorrow by giving thanks for God’s great provision, and rejoicing in His presence and grace.

May you be filled to overflowing with the goodness of God, the love of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, go change the world.

:::day twenty eight::: FAST FROM CARBS

friday, october 16

Climate changes, droughts, and natural disasters can completely wipe out an entire year’s worth of food in a farming community. Families who rely on their annual crop of wheat or corn are left with very few alternatives if their harvest fails. Limit your own options even further today by choosing to go without any bread, pasta, or grain products.

:::day twenty seven::: FAST FROM MEAT

thursday, october 15
It is estimated that the wealthiest 20% of the world’s population eats about 80% of the world’s meat. A large majority of the grain and corn grown around the world today feeds, not poor people, but cattle, pigs, and chicken, which will then be consumed by the rich. Though meat does provide needed protein, most of us already get twice the nationally recommended amount per day. So, choose beans, eggs, and other staples to fill your stomach these next few days, and pass on the poultry and beef.

:::day twenty six::: FAST FROM SNACKS

wednesday, october 14
Approximately 25,000 people die each day of hunger related causes, and we say things like “I’m starving” when we go more than a few hours without eating. We usually have 3 meals a day, plus snacks in between, and there’s rarely a time when food is farther away than the fridge or nearest supermarket. Starting today, eat only if you are truly hunger and just at mealtimes, no snacking in between.

:::day twenty five::: FAST FROM SWEETS

tuesday, october 13
We eat primarily for pleasure, only if it tastes good and we like it. But many people eat for basic survival, unconcerned with the flavor, just as a necessity to fill the void in their stomachs. Choose to forgo desserts for the rest of the week in order to remind yourself that food was meant first for our nutrition and second for our enjoyment.

:::day twenty four::: FAST FROM LUXURY DRINKS

monday, october 12
While many in our world consider clean water a treat and milk or juice an extreme luxury, it is fairly normal for us to consume a wide variety of different beverages throughout the week. And some of us have become quite dependent on our regular caffeine fix. If you usually drink coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, etc., cut those out for the next five days starting today and enjoy the other luxuries in life.

:::days twenty four to twenty eight::: FAST FROM OVER CONSUMPTION

monday, october 12 to friday october 16
“Man does not live on bread alone but
on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

In five days, you will be challenged to fast completely from food for 30 hours. One of the reasons for going 30 hours without eating, is to show us that our bodies can go 30 hours without eating. They can go quite a bit longer. But, since we rarely have to miss a meal, our stomachs think we actually need the substantial portions we feed ourselves, and grumble every few hours to remind us.
In the coming days, we will practice fasting from various food items so that our brains and bodies can relearn what we truly need, and so we can prepare ourselves for 30 hours with no food. We don’t do this to diet or test our discipline. We do it to learn spiritual hunger, humility, and dependence on God, to be controlled and filled by the Holy Spirit instead of by food.
Use prayerful discernment before committing to the following days’ challenges, especially if you have any health concerns. Just as Jesus was tempted “when he was hungry,” we are often at our weakest when we crave something out of our reach, so ask God to teach you that HE is all you really need. Fill your mind with His Word by reading through the book of James in the coming days.
Each day this week you will fast from a different food item, while continuing to fast from all the previous days’ items as well. This will not only be a healthy way to prepare your body for 30 hours without food, it will be a continual reminder to thank God for all the little things we often take for granted.
What measure of control does food have over you? What do you crave? How can you let Jesus have more control and be the one you crave?

Read... the book of James

:::day twenty three::: FAST FROM WASTE

sunday, october 11
Americans could fill the Rose Bowl every three days with the food they throw away.
While an absence of food ravages millions in poor countries, an abundance of food is thrown away each day by millions in affluent countries. We say things like “eat everything on your plate because there are starving children in Africa,” but does that actually change the way we buy, consume, or think about our food? Some researchers estimate that over a quarter of all food currently available in the U.S. will never get eaten and end up in the trash. Go take a look at your fridge and freezer, cupboards and counters, and choose to not let any of your food go to waste. Postpone your next trip to the supermarket or drive-thru until after you’ve eaten what you already have.
How would you explain the various reasons that millions of tons of food are thrown away each day in the very same world where millions of people are starving to death?

Read... Exodus 16:11-30

:::day twenty two::: FAST FROM LITERACY

saturday, october 10
“I am illiterate. I am like a blind person” ~ an uneducated mother in Pakistan
In the west, we teach our children that their ticket to success and prosperity is getting a good education, and we invest billions of dollars to guarantee it is accessible. But imagine if you never learned how to read or write because you never attended even one day of school; instead you became “literate” in the ways of farming, herding, or scavenging at a very early age. This is the reality of one in six adults in the world today who are illiterate. Today, write down all the many ways your daily life would be impacted if you could not understand road signs, food labels, and instructions, not to mention books, emails, job related materials, or God’s Word. In fact, turn your Bible upside down to read the verses below and see just how debilitating illiteracy would be.
How might the inability to read and write affect your relationship with God? How might it not affect your relationship with God?

Read... Deuteronomy 11:18-22; John 1:1-18

:::day twenty one::: FAST FROM "CLEAN"

friday, october 9
“It’s amazing how much my definition of clean changed” ~Mike Yankoski after choosing to live on the streets for 6 months
One of the first things non-westerners seem to notice when traveling to a “wealthy nation” like ours is the high priority we place on cleanliness. Trash is collected in bins, restaurants undergo strict hygiene inspections, yards are pristine, pets are flea-free, and clothes are worn only once or twice before being washed. We have even been taught to associate “cleanliness” with “godliness” (i.e. good people live in clean neighborhoods, and bad people live in dirty neighborhoods; good people are bathed and well-dressed, and bad people are unwashed and wear dirty clothes). Today, choose to be “unclean.” Give up your shower, toothbrush, deodorant, etc., and identify with those who may rarely experience those luxuries.
What is God’s definition of “clean” for His children? How can you place more emphasis on your inner purity and holiness?

Read... Luke 11:37-41; John 13:1-17

:::day twenty:::FAST FROM IGNORANCE

thursday, october 7
It’s not that rich Christians don’t care about the poor, it’s that we often don’t know the poor. ~Shane Claiborne
Jesus spent a lot of time with the sick, the sinful, and society’s outcasts. When he told His disciples that the poor would always be with them, perhaps He meant that the poor should always be with them…that His disciples should show such unconditional love and acceptance, the poor would be irresistibly drawn to them. For Jesus, the lowly and the unlovely weren’t charity cases, they were His friends who He would laugh with and eat with and learn from. They weren’t projects, they were people He loved deeply and knew intimately. Today, choose to make a new friend—maybe someone easily ignored or judged. Learn each others’ names and interests; discuss life and family, beliefs and values, hopes and dreams… just like you do with any of your friends.
How closely does your circle of friends resemble the wide range of people represented in Jesus’ circle of friends? What might you do to broaden the scope of your friendships?

Read... Luke 10:30-37; Luke 14:12-14

:::day nineteen::: FAST FROM POSSESSIONS

wednesday, october 7
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” ~ Jim Elliot
Do you possess your possessions or do they possess you? When we forget that our earthly treasures will one day pass away, it is easy to hold our belongings with a tight fist. But when we live like we believe that our real treasure is only found in Jesus, we can consider everything else as “rubbish.” What if our possessions had so little control over us that we would happily give someone the coat we were wearing, or the shoes off of our feet, or even the keys to our car? And instead of feeling a sense of loss, we felt liberated. Choose today to experience the freedom of giving something away… maybe not just the stuff you don’t like or don’t need, but something you do like or do need.
How can you practice storing up your treasures in heaven, for “there your heart will be also?”

Read... Philippians 3:7-8; Luke 12:13-21; I John 3:17

:::day eighteen::: FAST FROM YOURSELF

tuesday, october 6
If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito. –African saying
Have you ever looked at your life and felt powerless to make significant changes in the world because you’re “only one person?” What if, instead of being paralyzed by our own inabilities or overwhelmed by the world’s great needs, we lived as though our little acts of kindness really mattered … because they do matter to someone. Mother Teresa was known for saying, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
She was determined to see the face of Jesus in every person she met, remembering His words, “whatever you did for the least of these, you did for Me.” Choose today to do something “small” for someone with the knowledge that you are serving Christ himself.
What if you actually saw Jesus starving, or suffering, or sick? What would you do for Him?

Read... Matthew 25:31-46

:::day seventeen::: FAST FROM VANITY

monday, october 5
13 billion dollars is spent by Americans on cosmetic surgery every year
How much time do we spend staring at ourselves in front of the mirror, whether in dissatisfaction or admiration, compared to the time spent looking at God and His world? The beauty of creation is all around us, from sunsets and trees, to pets and people, so instead of being distracted with our own reflections, may we desire to reflect the wonder of our Creator God. Discover the liberation that the world’s poor unknowingly experience by having little concern for outward appearances, and choose not to look in the mirror today.
What could we do with the money we might save if we spent less on our “outward beauty which fades?”

Read... I Samuel 16:7; Psalms 104 and 139; I Peter 3:3-5

:::day sixteen::: FAST FROM SHOES

sunday, october 4
“That bread which you keep belongs to the hungry… those shoes which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground to the needy.” ~Augustine
Most children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores, or simply getting around, these children are unknowingly at risk. Walking is often the primary mode of transportation in developing countries, and just wearing shoes enables people to fetch water or medical help from distances that aren't possible barefoot. A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted parasites, which penetrate the skin through open sores; however, wearing shoes can eliminate this risk. Many times children can't attend school with bare feet, which means they don't receive an education...all because they don’t have shoes (adapted from tom's shoes). In their honor, today is Go Barefoot Day.
If you counted all the shoes you own and averaged the cost of each, how much of an investment have you made on your feet?

Read... Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 10:7-10; Luke 22:35

:::day fifteen::: FAST FROM SPEECH

saturday, october 3
“The poorest of the poor suffer silently, too weak for activism or too busy raising the next generation of hungry.” ~A voice from Haiti
To be poor often means to be powerless, even to feel voiceless. Our world is so full of other noises and stronger voices that the quiet cries of the weak and hungry are easily drowned out. Many people have even put their hands over their ears to silence the sounds of suffering when it becomes too uncomfortable. But followers of Jesus have another choice. We are blessed with the ability to raise our voices and communicate the fears, pains, or longings of those too weary or resigned to do so themselves. Next time you have the opportunity to speak out on behalf of the poor, don’t waste it, but for today choose a time when you can relinquish the use of your voice to gain a clearer understanding of what it might feel like to suffer in silence.
What will you say the next time someone disparages or diminishes the plight of the poor? How can you speak on their behalf?

Read...Proverbs 31:8-9

:::day fourteen::: FAST FROM MONEY

friday, october 2
"It's not about what you own, but what owns you. It's not about what you consume, but what's consuming you. It's not about how many people serve you, but how many you serve." Steve Roa, Grove Community Church Volunteer
The money in our wallets and bank accounts is not really ours. It all comes from God and we are merely entrusted with it, not entitled to it. Most Westerners don’t usually have to make excruciating financial decisions, like whether to spend our last dollars on food for our children or on medicine for our dying spouse. We unconsciously act as if money could take care of all of our needs, while many poor people have learned the secret to desperately waiting on God for even their most basic necessities. It’s hard for us to understand that feeling of vulnerability and powerlessness, so choose today not to spend any money and instead taste the kind of freedom that comes from relying ONLY on God.
What if we let God have a say in every single purchase we made?

Read... Ecclesiastes 5:10-20; Matthew 6:19-24; Matthew 19:16-30

:::day thirteen::: FAST FROM THE INTERNET

thursday, october 1
“Today we live in a media-saturated, internet-connected, cell-phone-equipped world in which everything that happens anywhere is available everywhere.” ~Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel
The internet allows us incredible access to information, communication, and entertainment, usually for our own personal benefit, but it also provides an easy “on ramp” to learning and being involved in different issues of global need. Lack of information is not the problem. The question is: has the increased awareness influenced the way we care for our neighbors, or caused us to become detached and indifferent to the constant images we see of human suffering? Today, only use your internet access as a means to educate and engage yourself in the plight of our worldwide family.
Have the images of poverty repeatedly bombarding our screens moved us into action or caused “compassion fatigue?”

Read... Job 30:25; Proverbs 19:17

:::day twelve:::FAST FROM SLEEP

wednesday, september 30
“The more we pray for people, the more we will come to love them. So then, if we do not pray for people, can we say that we love them?” Richard Foster
Most of us already don’t get enough sleep each night, but that is usually due to our own choices. There are those in our world, however, whose sleep is continually interrupted, painful, or full of fear. It is often during those long nights that their cries reach the ears of a Father who cares. We too can choose to spend more than the average 3-4 minutes per day in prayer to One who sees, knows, and hears all needs. Tonight, set your alarm for a time in the middle of the night to seek God not only on your behalf, but to intercede for the hurting people who God places on your heart.
Is it easier for you to pray for general world issues or individual people you know? What could you do so that your prayers become more personal and specific?

Read... Psalm 121:3-4; James 5:13-16

:::day eleven::: FAST FROM HURRY

tuesday, september 28
"No Hurry, ... In Africa." bumper sticker in Tanzania
Our days are so full of appointments, to do lists, deadlines, and activities it’s no wonder we can’t often find time to “help the poor.” We seem to be running at a fast pace, sometimes late everywhere we go, which makes it difficult to be concerned about lives and plans other than our own. In many parts of the world, people seem to have a different notion of time, which values relationships over schedules. Choose today to slow your life down so you can be more present in the present. Try to get somewhere 20 minutes early, or cut something out of your calendar completely. Practice “African time,” focusing more on people than planners. See how God might fill your day in other ways.
How can you schedule more “breathing room” in your days and weeks to allow for an unplanned opportunity to minister to someone in need, instead of racing by?

Read... Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5


monday, september 28
“Maybe I need Africa more than Africa needs me” ~ the voice of an American Christian
People living in extreme poverty do not have the option to be totally independent and self-sufficient. For sheer survival purposes, villages and families must join together to share food, shelter, water, transportation, skills and more. In America, however, we are not accustomed to being dependent on other people for our daily survival; in fact, we could go weeks without even seeing our closest neighbors. Perhaps, living in such a way where we truly need one another isn’t shameful, but beautiful. Practice being dependent on someone else today, like borrowing your neighbor’s lawnmower or carpooling to school or work, so you can catch a glimpse of the kind of community the poor are uniquely privileged to experience.
Instead of typically being in the position to give, or teach, or offer our skills to the poor, why is it important to also receive from them? How do we need Africa sometimes more than Africa needs us?

Read... Acts 2:42-47 ; I Thessalonians 2:8

:::day nine::: FAST FROM FEAR

sunday, september 27
“On Sunday morning, safe in our church pews and surrounded by friends, it can be all too easy to leave the world’s violence, suffering, and turmoil outside—out of sight, out of mind. But as Christians, are we really given the option of turning away from the world’s problems?” Richard Stearns, The Hole In Our Gospel
One of the reasons more Christians aren’t recklessly changing the world like Jesus taught us is because of fear. Fear of physical harm, fear of a ruined reputation, fear of offending, fear of failing. So we stay safe in our comfort zones and “do our part,” while billions are suffering and longing for the kind of spiritual, physical, and societal transformation only the Gospel can bring. How will this hurting world (and our next door neighbors) truly experience the Kingdom of God unless we take risks, live radically, and love authentically? So today, release your fears and boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus to the person or people God will prayerfully direct you to.
What if every Christian lived without fear every day?

Read... Deuteronomy 31:8, Romans 8:15, II Timothy 1:7


saturday, september 26
Americans spend $705 billion on entertainment and recreation every year.
We are a well-entertained society! We can hardly go anywhere outside, or even inside, our homes without being bombarded by the sights, sounds, and sensations of our media industry. The billions of dollars we spend amusing ourselves each year could be used to literally change the world. Imagine if, rather than transporting our “American culture” to the developing world via movies, magazines, and music, we brought clean water (for 6 billion) and education (for 9 billion) and medical care (for 13 billion) instead. Choose today to forgo all of your typical means of entertainment and spend your extra time or dollars in a way that makes a lasting difference.
What kind of statement would the American church make if we collectively cut our recreational spending in half and proved that we love our global neighbors as ourselves by putting our money where our mouth is?

Read... I Tim 6:17-19, James 5:1-5

:::days six and seven::: FAST FROM OPTIONS

thursday & friday, september 24 & 25
"Many of the poor in our world own only the clothes on their backs. They have no closets. " -Richard Stearns
Our closets are FULL of various options, and yet how often do we complain, I have nothing to wear!? We easily grow discontent from season to season, wishing that our dressers and drawers didn’t provide such a “limited selection”. But what if we had NO other options than the clothes on our back? Our choice in the mornings would certainly be easy and maybe our contentment would be found elsewhere. Today and tomorrow, experience what “life without a closet” would feel like and choose to wear the same clothes both days.
Do you think you would care as much about wearing the same clothes 2 days in a row if everyone you knew only owned a few outfits?

Read... Proverbs 19:17, Matthew 6:25-34


wednesday, september 23
The wealthiest 20 percent of the world’s population consumes 86% of the world’s goods.
We in America have more than enough, yet we are generally unaware of our excess. What we often think of as a basic essential for everyday life, many people in our world would consider a luxury. Try redefining your idea of a daily necessity. Ask yourself what your true needs are and consider everything else an extra that you could potentially live without. Then choose five “necessary” items that you will actually give up for today… perhaps toothpaste, coffee, your watch, makeup, and socks…or your backpack, jewelry, chapstick, sunglasses and wallet…? Sacrifice some items that you’ll notice are missing and practice saying, “I have more than enough.”
How do you respond to this statement by GK Chesterton? “There are 2 ways to get enough—one is to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

Read... Leviticus 23:22, II Corinthians 8:13-15


tuesday, september 22
“Water is life; because we have no water, life is miserable” a voice from Kenya.
A child dies every 15 seconds of a waterborne disease. Imagine if you woke up today and every water-related fixture or appliance in your home was gone— your fridge, sinks, dishwasher, sprinklers... all gone. Your only access to water now is a murky pond or stagnant canal. Your choice is to go without water or fetch the potentially disease-ridden water, which, when consumed, could introduce deadly parasites and bacteria into your body. The quest for clean water would probably begin to dominate your daily thoughts and activities. Choose today to experience the reality of 1.2 billion people in our world by relinquishing your water supply in some way.
How much water do you think you use or consume on an average day? What if you found out it was all unsafe?

Read...Matthew 25:35, John 4:1-15


monday, september 21, 2009
“Violence done to women and girls is on the rise since African Union troops were forced to abandon "firewood patrols", which once escorted them to the periphery of the camp to collect wood for fuel.” A voice from a refugee camp in Darfur, Sudan.
Jesus said that His followers are the light of the world. Sadly many people in His world live in literal darkness with no access to electrical power for miles. This means they must gather firewood in order to cook their meals, boil water, or have warmth and light when the sun goes down. When girls must venture far from home to find the needed fuel, they are often subjected to terrible harm. Choose today to go without electricity in some way so you can remember to pray for those who go without it every day.
What would you do if having light, heat, and the ability to cook required more than flipping a switch or turning a knob?

Read... Genesis 1:3, Matthew 5:13-14


Tell us how your night on the floor was for you or your family, and how you're practicing being "inconvenienced" today. Use the comment button below to share what you're thinking, discussing with others, or learning.


sunday, september 20
Women and children in developing countries usually spend around 5 hours a day just fetching water.
Poverty is incredibly inconvenient. One of the most restricting factors in the life of a poor person is their limited access to transportation. If you think it’s inconvenient to drive all over town for your various activities, imagine walking or taking a long bus ride instead. If you also had to fit into your daily schedule several trips—on foot—to your nearest source of water, even the simplest tasks like washing your clothes or dishes could become overwhelming. Experience the inconvenience of going without transportation in some way today (like walking to the grocery store or carrying a bucket of water around the block) to understand the limitations faced by the poor.
How inconvenienced would you be today if you did not have any access to a vehicle?

Read... Psalm 81:6

before we begin...

Next Saturday, September 19th, kicks off our 30 day challenge! Each day we'll be choosing to go without certain things that we tend to take for granted in order to better understand the plight of the poor here and around the world. As we fast from shoes, sleep, money, tv, fear, vanity, and more, our prayer is that God will break our hearts for the things that break His heart. So stay tuned over the coming weeks to find out what we'll all be giving up each day, and share your thoughts and experiences here as we are being changed... and causing change.
(Sneak preview-- Day One, Saturday September 19: Fast from COMFORT... sleep on the floor tonight!)

:::day one::: FAST FROM COMFORT

saturday, september 19
Around 11 million children live on the streets in India, according to UNICEF estimates.
A typical bed for some of the poor in our world might be a thin piece of foam or simply a light blanket on a hard floor or dirt ground. Millions of children grow up on impoverished city streets never knowing the shelter of a roof over their head and the comfort of a soft bed. But in their distress, many will cry out to God as their Comforter and place of Refuge. Feel what many of our global brothers and sisters feel every night and choose to sleep on the floor beside your bed, just for tonight…. maybe even without a blanket or pillow. Practice finding your comfort in the shelter of God’s arms.
How might years of sleeping on the hard ground affect your daily life?

Read...Psalm 18:2, Luke 21:37, Matthew 8:20, II Corinthians 1:3-5

:::a prayer of committment:::

Lord I confess that I am often blind to the pain and suffering that millions face around the world today. Please open my eyes to see people as You see them, and allow my heart to be broken by the things that break Your heart.
I want to be faithful to the calling You have given me, to be quiet enough to hear Your still small voice, and to live my life modeled after Jesus’ life.
May I be transformed as I take these steps out of my comfort zone and learn to love You and love all people as Your Word teaches.
I present myself as a living sacrifice. You are worth whatever I must do in order to pursue a deeper relationship with You.