Thirty area teens fasted for 30 hours last weekend to raise money for the hungry in famine-struck areas of the world, as part of a global "teen famine" event.
The youths raised pledges from others who supported them in their efforts. The pledges, as well as the proceeds from a dinner the youths sold tickets to and served Friday evening at Park United Methodist Church in Brainerd, will go to World Vision, Inc., to feed the hungry.
Jackie Price, Light of the Lakes Church youth ministry leader and wife of Light of the Lakes pastor David Price, said the World Vision 30-hour teen famine project took place in 21 countries, with more than 1 million participants worldwide.
Price, the key person in organizing and carrying out the area effort, said, "We're all working together toward a goal. We've been studying Rwanda and the conditions there ..." which are desperate among much of the population.
"The kids love that they're saving lives," Price said, emphasizing how impressed she is with the kids' attitudes and dedication to this cause. "I can't really take too much credit. These kids want the real thing. They want to be authentic with it (their Christian spirit). We have fun, but they're really looking for some authentic faith."
Tim Munns, son of Mississippi Horizons principal Carol Munns, is counselor and assistant coordinator for the Light of the Lakes youth group. His grandparents, parents, wife and two children all are members of Light of the Lakes Church.
Munns, who recently returned home to the lakes area after a term in the Army, was glad to be part of the event. He tolerated -- along with the teens, Jackie Price and Gary Gunderson, another adult counselor -- the diet of nothing but juice for almost two days, and sleeping on the floor of the church office with other famine participants.
Many stayed together through the night between service projects, Bible study, spiritual song and fellowship, which began after school last Friday and continued until 2 p.m. Saturday. At that time, the group's fast, which began at 8 a.m. last Friday, ended with a ceremony at the church's office in Baxter.
Light of the Lakes currently holds services at Mississippi Horizons School, and has an office in Baxter. The parish is working steadily toward funding a new church.
"We'll break our fast with communion and prayer, and then have rice, because that's what poor children get to eat. Some only get one bowl of rice a day," said one of the teens.
"This helps you realize what children in poor countries go through," said Holly Zelinske, who recruited five friends from Mississippi Horizons School to join her in the cause. Most youths who participated in the event are Light of the Lakes youth group members.
Zelinske's classmates are not, but as one of the five said, "It sounded fun, so I came." Another, Jill Teufert, said, "This is my first year. I hope to do it next year, too."
For other kids in the group, this year's wasn't their first famine event. It was 30-hour famine No. 4 for youth group member Margret Price, and it was the third year for members Chris Smith, Rob Ocel and Chris Bean.
"One of the girls raised $75," Price said. "She looked up what that amount of money could buy (through World Vision) and said, 'Wow, I can buy a goat for a family, and they can have milk for as long as the goat lives.' She was really excited she had done something like that."
Just $10 feeds two children for three months, Price said. "100 percent of the money the kids raise goes to help save lives."
When asked what motivated them to participate, one teen summed it up with the comment, "To help kids that are starving to have food."
Besides raising pledges, serving the benefit dinner and going hungry for 30 hours, the area teen famine group went on a "drive-by prayer" run last Friday evening and embarked on a food drive Saturday.
"You can't believe the excitement about this," Price said of the drive-by prayer. "They just love that. They put themselves 'in the back seat' and still have fun!"
One of the teen participants said, "We left prayers on people's doors and rang the doorbell and ran back to the cars."
The drive-by prayer said: "You have been targeted by a drive-by prayer group from Light of the Lakes Church youth group. We hope and pray that you will experience God's presence and blessing tonight."
Most of the prayer recipients were parish families or acquaintances of the teen famine group, and were aware they might be "targeted" by the group on its drive-by.
Lots of food was collected Saturday, Price said, from homes around the community. The group left grocery bags with people who agreed to place at least one or two nonperishable items in them. The group then returned for the bags an hour later. Even though the group only asked for a few items, Price said, most people pretty well filled their bags with edible donations.
"We took the food to the Salvation Army (which is associated with World Vision, Inc.) and the kids got to see the Food Shelf," Price said. It was a real eye opener for the kids, she said, in that they learned how many people rely on the area Food Shelf to eat.
"I think they were pretty changed by the experience," Price said.
Participant Ashlee Hoppe described the experience of many of the teens involved in the 30-hour famine when she said, "Before starting, you think you won't be able to do it. But once you get going, you realize you can. It's only for one day."
This group of teens knows other kids aren't so lucky.
Anyone interested in contributing to this cause can do so by visiting the World Vision Web site at www.30hourfamine.org, or by calling 1.800.7.FAMINE.
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