For the past 15 years, we have challenged students to step up and meet the ultimate test... can you take 30 days, avoid media that is not focused on God, and spend that extra time working on your relationships with others and with God.
I can honestly say that every year, I am so proud of how we have High School students who not only take the challenge, but inspire others along the way. Over the past 15 years, we have averaged over 20 students per year who step up. Add to the the 3-5 families who join in. We still have former students who participate in the fast each year!
We have written over 200 daily-devotionals... we have utilized book studies, prayer practices, and Bible study methods. About 10 years ago, we started this blog page to keep track of past experiences. Each year we challenge adults to not only sponsor students, but also to join in the fast... and every year I hear from 2 or 3 adults who are sponsors that join in with the students.
We do use this opportunity to raise money for our mission trips and over the last 15 years we have raised over $9000 per year to send kids onto mission trips to grow in their leadership skills, grow in the their faith, and learn how to share the Gospel with other people. We have no idea how many people have heard and seen the Gospel through these trips, but I know it has always impacted the students who go.
God is good! I have seen how He uses this simple expression of fasting from something that nudges us away from Him and I've seen how it impacts our students every year. For the first time in 15 years, I took this month to just observe, listen, and see how God is moving in our kids. It was not easy avoiding commenting on each blog post because I saw God working in so many ways (I am going back through now and commenting... haha). The Holy Spirit was definitely moving in their hearts!
I work within a culture that can only measure success on numbers. We say that we don't but the reality is that every time I talk to someone from another church, I get the same question: "How many kids are in your youth group?" I wonder if Jesus ever had a question like that? "How many kids in your group, Jesus?" "Well, it's been 3 years, we have 12 leaders, still... half of them are under 18... and then we have a few who show up from time to time," Jesus.
What inspires me every year is not how many High School students who do the fast... it's how those that step up to the challenge are changed by focusing on God for 30 days... and this year, I love what God has done through our kids. Stories of taking stands for faith in class, having Gospel-centered conversations with friends, being asked to pray for sports teams, inviting friends to youth group, serving in children's ministry, sharing spontaneous devotionals for radio stations' Facebook pages... it has been an amazing month! It has been an amazing 15 years! There is something amazing that happens when the Gospel is elevated and centralized in our lives.
As we close out this year's fast, I want to give this final challenge... What are you doing to make Christ known? What are you committing to in order to grow in your faith? How is your faith nudging you to grow closer to God and others? Maybe... just maybe... a 30 day Media Fast will help you answer those questions, too!
Great job everyone! I'm incredibly honored and proud to be a small part of your spiritual journey. I can't wait to see what God does next in your lives!