Starving to serve
"You will be Jesus today for somebody," Lisa Courtney, minister of music, youth and children at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, told her youth group on Saturday. "You are never more like Jesus than when you are serving."
The youth group, along with another group from the First Presbyterian Church of Boone, participated in a 30-hour famine this weekend. The groups did not eat for 30 hours and conducted service projects throughout the county. The goal was to show the youth what it would be like if they lived in an area where food was scarce and they still had to work to support their families.
"I just want them to realize how much they have. The theme of our youth group is revolution. I want them to know they can change the world," Lisa said.
The weekend began with a lock-in at the church on Friday evening where the youth saw first-hand what it was like to live in an area where people are starving. They were asked to build a house out of cardboard that they would sleep in for the night and to scavenge for food.
"Each youth was given a child from an area without food that they pretended to be last night. Some of them were handicapped so they had to pretend to be blind or deaf or something like that. We had a contest to see who could build the best house and who scavenged for the best food," Lisa said. "It really was a simulation of what the world would be like if there wasn't food."
On Saturday, the groups went out into the community to conduct service projects. They built wheelchair ramps, did yard work, visited nursing homes and helped clean a soup kitchen.
"My favorite part of this weekend so far is becoming unified and experiencing something we aren't used to. The best part is working while we are hungry because we are going to be feeling what they do," said Colton Courtney, youth group member. "They starve every day but they have to keep working."
As part of the weekend event, the groups began raising money to donate to the World Vision organization a few months ago. Members asked for donations from friends and family.
"We fundraise all the time, so for this I wanted to do it differently. I had every kid set a goal individually about how much they thought they could raise. Those came to $950," Lisa said. "We have raised $958 and we still have more money coming in. I know that is a God thing."
According to its website, World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. The organization partners with communities to address immediate food needs and to grow sustainable food for the future.
"World Vision is a great organization. They are out there in the field and all of the money goes straight to the children," Lisa said.
Lisa said she hopes that this weekend made the youth realize how blessed they are.
"It's been a good thing for the children. The goal is that I hope it makes them start opening their eyes," Lisa said. "I came here two years ago and we had five people in the group. We have about 30 now. The kids are excited about their faith."