Teens from the Lutheran Church of the Palms participated in World Vision’s 30-Hour Famine, an international movement to fight hunger.
PALM HARBOR – A group of teens from Lutheran Church of the Palms recently sacrificed a weekend during Lent to participate in World Vision’s 30-Hour Famine – an event where teenagers fast for 30 hours, learn about global hunger and raise funds to feed and care for hungry children in their community and around the world.
The group of 19 teenagers from the Fellowship of Christian Teens and five adult chaperones – pastor Neil Brady, Gayle Austad, Laurie Clark, Florence Salamak and Roberta Nilsson – participated in the event March 2-3. The Lutheran Church of the Palms sponsored it.
“Watching the kids is absolutely phenomenal,” Nilsson said. “They come in, these tough guys, and God enters their hearts and they focus on people other than themselves.”
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities worldwide to combat the causes of poverty and injustice. It serves close to 100 million people in nearly 100 countries around the world. Every year, hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. and around the world unite to do the famine. This year is the fourth time the fellowship has led a famine at the church.
The fellowship raised funds for the famine through a variety of means. They earned 15 percent of the day’s tally from customers who presented the group’s flyer and ate at Sweet Tomatoes. They earned over $500 in tips and donations busing tables at CiCi’s Pizza on a weekend and held a car wash event, which raised about $300. The teenagers were encouraged to ask for donations from family and friends and a couple of them raised over $500 this way. The church also advertised the famine to their congregation.
“About two-thirds of the congregation is made up of seniors,” Nilsson said. “They are so supportive of our kids and generously support our youth program.”
In all, over $5,500 was raised by the fellowship and was donated to World Vision and the Lutheran Church of Haiti. Mosquito nets were purchased to prevent malaria through Lutheran World Relief. The proceeds also were donated to local charities Resurrection House, FEAST Food Pantry and For Haiti with Love.
The fasting began at 5:30 a.m. with prayer after a hearty breakfast. The fellowship kept busy the entire 30 hours with community service projects including making supper bags rfor the homeless, serving lunch in two different soup kitchens in Clearwater and Tarpon Springs to over 200 homeless men, women and children and participating in a local food drive. The fellowship painted the church’s picnic tables and an office. They played team-building games and kept personal journals of their experiences.
“They could drink water and juice and we stocked peanut butter and cheese in case somebody got really wobbly,” said Nilsson.
The teenagers slept outside the night of March 2 when temperatures dipped to the low 40s. They camped out in discarded refrigerator and dishwasher boxes. Bundled up in sleeping bags and pillows, the teenagers experienced how many homeless children and adults spend weeks or months sleeping on the ground in makeshift homes of cardboard, scrap wood and materials.
“They were very proud of themselves that they did it,” Nilsson said.
The next morning during Sunday worship services, the fellowship served communion and assisted the pastors. They shared some of their reflections that had taken place during the famine and presented a hand painted banner with thumbprints representing each dollar raised. After the service, breakfast was provided by the parents and served to everyone in the congregation.
“The teenagers were inspired and empowered that they made a difference,” Nilsson said.
The Fellowship of Christian Teens is open to students in grades 6 through 12. Anyone in the community can join, not just members of the Lutheran Church of the Palms. Visit www.lutheranchurchofthepalms.org.
Monthly child sponsorships are available for $35 through World Vision. Sponsorships provide children in need with access to clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, education and more. Visit www.worldvision.org.