Over 100 expat kids and 40 leaders came together for a large 30 Hour Famine event in Beijing, China. 6 youth groups from three churches joined in (One Way from BICF ZGC; ReGen, 21st MS and Crossroads from BICF 21st; Rev and Bongos from CCC).
This report was written by Chloe Harris. Chloe was an English TCK in Hongkong; she now works with TCKs in Beijing, where she studies poverty relief. The accompanying photos were taken by Josh Haller, another ATCK who works with TCKs in Beijing.
Beijing’s 30 Hour Famine took place on the 4-5th April this year. It was an amazing event combining worship, poverty, justice, mercy, compassion, and youth. The kids raised…well…you’ll have to get to the end of this blog post to find out, but lets just say that it was enough for several youth leaders and kids to lose head, face, and leg hair.
[Two kids raised money by shaving their heads. The city’s two youth pastors also promised to lose some hair if the kids managed to raise $30,000 USD by the night of the famine event. Matt Banker shaved his mustache, beard, and head; John Sorrell had his legs waxed. All this in front of a crowd of (hungry) teens!]
Jonny, Jason, Matt and John losing hair for the cause...
On the Friday night, 6 hours after kids had eaten their last mouthful of food, the 30 Hour Famine event began. Immediately, we were reminded that people in Haiti lost their families, friends, homes, and access to clean water, shelter and education in just 35 seconds. We looked to God and began worshiping Him in song.
Shortly afterwards, there was a power cut in the building and everyone was evacuated. Once outside in the cold, we were informed that the building behind us had collapsed, and we needed to make our shelter for the night out of the rubble that we found on the ground. Our group set about making a giant cardboard igloo. [Thanks to Santa Fe for donating 200 packing boxes for our shelters!]
Various cardboard constructions made by Beijing youth. Yes, they slept outside in these shelters! After two weeks of mild weather, the temperature dropped below freezing during the night.
We grabbed our sleeping bags, snuggled in our home for the night, and marvelling at how warm and cosy we were, with a great sense of satisfaction at our architectural and constructional abilities, we fell asleep. At 4am, Beijing, one of the driest places on earth, decided to pour down with rain on us, and we moved inside, sadly abandoning our cardboard igloo.
Painting with kids at Bethel
The next day, we set off on a coach to Bethel Orphanage, home for over 40 Chinese kids who are blind. Watching some of the youth play guitar and sing songs was absolutely inspiring. It was amazing to see how a group of TCK youth, and a group of kids who are blind, met together to share in their love of God, and their desire to worship him. The youth painted, cleaned play equipment, and did some serious digging. Some kids had the task of baking chocolate chip cookies, surrounded by amazing baking smells, a painful task for someone who is fasting…
Back at the centre, with 2 hours until the end of the famine, we had more times of sharing, praying and worshiping God. We broke the fast with communion, an incredible reminder of the body broken and the blood poured out for us on the cross. However, we weren’t allowed to take communion for ourselves, it had to be served to us, and we broke into small groups to pray.
Afterwards, we were handed a spoon of peanut butter, a small cup of some kind of mushy, grainy substance, and a mini orange. Kids were thankful, but a little confused, until it was explained to us that when severely malnourished children turn up at a World Vision relief camp, this is the meal that they are given, as it’s gentle on their bodies and easy to digest. [The break-the-fast meal was prepared using recipes supplied by World Vision: a corn meal mush and a peanut-butter-plus mixture served to severely malnourished children. The mandarin oranges were added to the meal because, as we told the kids, “we love you”.]
Each handprint represent one child fed for a month
There were no complaints, no grumbling, we realised that hungry kids live on this earth, and we hardly ever think about them. Some kids shared the way that we always complain ‘Mum, I’m starving’, yet millions of kids around the world actually understand what it is to be starving, and we have no idea.
The 30 Hour Famine is all about ‘Students around the world loving God and fighting hunger’. It really has to be in this order. I felt that this weekend, students understood that worship isn’t just about singing, its about living our lives as a response to God, in response to his outpouring of love poured out for us through his death on the cross.
So how much was raised? The total is now over 250,000RMB, over 38,500 USD. The amount of money raised was enough to feed one child in Haiti for nearly every Beijing youth who was there, for a whole year. This is an incredible amount for 111 kids to raise, they did an amazing job. My lasting prayer is that its not just about the money though, that is would always be about transforming lives in the name of Christ, and in order for us to help change lives, we need to allow God to change and transform us first.