…is not this the kind of fast I have chosen:

Fasting is the denial of self to allow us to become more sensitive to God and more passionate towards the things God is passionate towards. And then to act on those things.

Fasting does not change God. Fasting changes us.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”

Recently around a thousand people at my church fasted for a week on rice and beans, just to more closely identify to people who do not have the food options most Americans have.

Most of us are not worried about whether we will eat enough today. In fact, most of us are worried that we will eat too much today.

I know there are hungry people in America, but compared to third world hunger, even hungry Americans have great access to food.

For most third world countries, rice and beans are a delicacy, yet in America, we take these nutritional staples for granted.

Rice and beans may be a step down for us but it is a delicacy in poverty stricken nations.

In Haiti moms have come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country’s central plateau.

Haitimothersdirtcakes

A meal of rice and beans costs nearly $1, but a dirt cake only costs a few cents.

By eating these dirt cakes, patties, Haitian children almost certainly ingest intestinal parasites.

The parasitic worms that were in the dirt will devour up to 25% of the nutrients you eat. Without a 2 cent de-worming pill these parasites will linger in your digestive tract perpetually, thus drastically stunting a Haitian child’s mental and physical development.

When I shared these facts about Haitian mothers and children, our congregation was humbled and broken.

We handed out a starter pack of rice and beans at the end of every service, with a list of things to pray for during the fast and a list of organizations they could support.

At every meal people prayed for those around the world and in our own country who were hungry.

Because rice and beans are a delicacy in poor countries, we were not really sacrificing too much.

But by not eating anything else for a week, it taught many how to simplify. It taught many to be more thankful.

After the fast was over, many realized how much food Americans waste, and how we should and could eat more simply.

wastedfood

Since that week of fasting, grocery bills have been less, because people learned they could still eat well, with a smaller budget.

Since that week, a 20 thousand square foot organic garden was started on our churches property by people who are passionate about people eating healthy food.

It was interesting how children led the way.

One family was going to fast one meal a day, on rice and beans, until their 8 year old son, broke down and told them in tears that if they were really going to be like people who are hungry, they needed to eat rice and beans for all three meals. The family followed his lead.

One woman during the “fast” realized how much she was spending on diet Coke. She decided at the end of the week to stop drinking diet Coke (her husband called it rat poison) and she has used the savings to sponsor another child through Compassion International.

That one week has made our church more compassionate towards the things God is compassionate for.

The definition of compassion is: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

That one week taught us that true fasting is always “accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate suffering.”

We are doing a better job of following the words of Mother Teresa, “Live simply so others may simply live.”

I would challenge churches to try this “beans and rice” fast. It will change you and bless you..

——————————————————————————————————————————–
This is the information we handed out with the starter pack of rice and beans:

“…and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10

Get the facts about hunger and how it affects children and their families:

>One person in seven battles hunger every day.

>More than 9 million children under age 5 die every year, and malnutrition accounts for more than one-third of these deaths. Most of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

>About 5.6 million deaths of children worldwide are related to under-nutrition. This accounts for 53 percent of the total deaths for children under 5. Worldwide, 161 million preschool children suffer from chronic malnutrition.

       >923 million people worldwide are undernourished, and there are more than 9 million deaths related to hunger each year.

Sources: http://www.wfp.org, http://www.unicef.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.un.org

WHAT CAN I DO?
>Fast and Pray for those who are hungry (Join us for a 5 day fast of eating rice and beans, while praying for the hungry and discussing ways to solve hunger with family and friends. Let us know about your conversations and how the fast has affected you by posting your experiences on GVCC’s facebook page. Remember, rice and beans are a delicacy in third world countries.)
>Sponsor a child through Compassion International. (Sponsored children and their families are given proper nutrition through education and balanced meals. For more information go to Compassion.com)
>Tithe and get involved with GVCC’s Saturday Morning Café. (GVCC is able to buy groceries for our Saturday morning giveaway for 10 cents on the dollar. Your tithe allows us the buying power to have adequate amounts of food. Plus volunteering in the Café will help you see and understand the face of hunger.)
>Volunteer and help support GVCC’s organic garden. (This garden will help supply the hungry of El Dorado county with nutritious fruits and vegetables. Food that is not often available to the hungry.)
>Be a voice for the voiceless. (Proverbs 31:8 says to be a voice for the voiceless and to speak up for those who cannot be heard. The hungry need more voices to speak up for them.)

2 thoughts on “…is not this the kind of fast I have chosen:

  1. This message is so right on the money. You can read and comprehend the words, but for many it’s difficult to understand the reality of hunger. I can tell myself that there is nothing in the house to eat. But if I look around, there is still food in my refrigerator and in my cupboards, just not what I was in the mood to eat. The families I work with here in Mexico don’t have refrigerators or cupboards. When they say they don’t have anything to eat, there is literally nothing there.

    As an example, just yesterday, Raul came to ask for food. He was just laid off from work. I know that they had food for Christmas day, so for them to not have food just two days later shows how difficult it can be to get from one day to the next. And it speaks volumes as to relationships that Raul came to ask and not his wife Araceli. Here, a man would never come to ask for food for his family.

    I use them as an example, because this is a family who fast, often each week so that they will grow closer to God and hear his words more clearly. It’s not all that difficult to fast when you know when your next meal is. But to deny yourself food, when there is food in front of you, but not knowing if food will be available later is such a demonstration of faith and obedience to me. They inspire me.

    And your are so right about rice and beans being a delicacy. If you’ve not eaten today or for the past couple of days, rice and beans can be a feast! From my time here, I would have thought that people would grow tired of rice and beans, but not so. I would have thought that given the opportunity to buy what ever they want, they would pass by the rice and beans, but also not so.

    I no longer take for granted that I have food to eat. I remind myself to give thanks to the one who has provided me with the blessing. And I need to remind myself more to pray for those who don’t have anything to eat this day.

  2. This picture and story of Haitians as touch me like no other poverty story. I don’t want to exaggerate but I think I daily think of this despatate kind of poverty and this picture comes to mind. It says 1000 words. That whole weekend was so inspiring. I pray that your stay in Africa will give you inspiration, so that you will come back and inspire us again. As I went through Christmas and enjoyed the Christmas eve service so much. I was aware that losses in life, hunger, death, disappointments – Suffering all physically feel the same. There is a hurt in your whole body, their is a weakness in your spirit, there is a relinquishing of control and a need for a healer. It is a physical pain in your heart. I am starting to view suffering different, there is a change in my thinking. A starving child in Africa hurts like a mother who has lost a child. Both are unbearable. I am learning when I can grasp that life is suffering, I can be like those who have nothing in Africaand have joy. Who praise God like no one else. Because why should we be bitter because we suffer. It is a for sure. After I come to terms with the for sure. I can look at the then what? Hope. I know we talk about this all the time. And I am preaching your sermon. Just know I appreciate all you are doing. And as you hold up the arms of others. Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you where ever you go. Joshua 1:9

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