:::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.