CHILLICOTHE — Within a week, 10 teens raised awareness about world hunger and $1,000 to help fight it.
For a couple of years, Tim Hearn, youth minister at First Baptist Church, Chillicothe, had mulled over and prayed about involving students in Southern Baptists’ World Hunger emphasis. “But the timing just hadn’t seemed right,” he said.
As he watched and listened to students throughout last year, he decided to see how they would respond. “We have a good group of students who are very caring…. It seemed like the right time and I threw it out to them.”
In the week prior to participating in a 24-hour fast Dec. 18-19, students found people who would sponsor their effort for $10 each. Hearn encouraged them to approach their family and friends instead of trying to find one or two church members to cover each participant’s $100 goal. Hearn also developed prayer cards for students to give their sponsors.
Several students who couldn’t participate in the event itself helped sponsor those who could, he added.
Participants began their fast right after lunch on Friday — especially tough for a couple of students whose lunch period is 10:30 a.m. Hearn and wife Kelly hosted the 10 at their home for an overnight of Bible studies about the poor, interspersed with movies and other activities and a little sleep — but no food.
“The first six to eight hours was really hard on them…but I didn’t have anyone to quit,” Hearn said. “After that they settled in.”
The youth minister said the experience taught the teens two things — that they could fast and how many people face hunger. “They didn’t think they could last 24 hours without eating. And their eyes were opened to the plight of those who go to bed hungry every night,” Hearn explained.
He believes students will respond to needs when they learn about them and discover ways to meet them. “Students are not afraid to do big things. Some students have big hearts…. Sometimes we don’t challenge them enough,” the youth minister noted.
“I’m just so proud of them. They took on a big challenge and succeeded. They want to do it again.”