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Experiencing hunger first-hand

Wednesday, Mar. 5 | By Hannah Dellinger
Young adults Madeline Oliveri, John Kiser and Kendra Wright (above) play crab soccer to burn energy during a 30-Hour Famine event.
Photo by Adam Goings
Most of us are fortunate enough to not be familiar with the feeling of genuine hunger.

For this reason, Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Warrenton, and many other churches of all denominations across the nation, hold annual 30-hour famine events so that the congregation can experience firsthand what others suffer through every day.

“We’re blessed in this community,” said Tom Bartkiewicz, a member of Our Saviour. “We don’t see or feel hunger. This is an opportunity for youth who are 'victims' of comfort. They don’t know any different, everything in provided. To learn that that’s not the way that it is in much of the world and for them to actually experience hunger for 30 hours make a huge impact on their lives.”

This is the 10th year that the church has partnered with World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization that works to tackle world poverty and injustice.
Each year the church holds the 30-hour famine event in order to raise money for starving children around the world and as an educational opportunity for the youth of the church.

“Helping the poor and the needy is what drew me into ministry and it’s one of the most primary things that the church does,” said the church’s pastor, Terri Church. “We’re here for worship and to help the poor and sometimes in a suburban setting in a congregation, it’s easy to get away from that. This gives a real visceral way for the kids and adults to physically experience something about the people that they are helping.”

The first night of the famine, a funeral service is held for all of the children in the world who have died from hunger and malnutrition. During the service, a church member strikes a drum once for every time that a child in the world dies from hunger.

“When we first started the drumming was on the order of once every two and a half or three seconds,” said Tom. “We’re down to nine seconds this year. What World Vision is doing is making a positive impact. For the youth who have been doing it over the years, that message to the kids is that they are making a positive difference in the world.”

Tom’s daughter, Hannah Bartkiewicz, a senior at Fauquier High School, has participated in the famine since she was in sixth grade. Last year she organized the entire event and this year she is helping another youth to run it.

“Not only is it fun, but we’re doing for a good reason and raising money for people in need,” said Hannah.

The children are each sponsored by family and friends with donations ranging from $10 to $425 per child. In the past, the congregation has raised more than $20,000 for World Vision’s efforts and plans to raise the same amount this year.

Thirty-five children ranging from sixth to 12th grade, as well as nine adults, participated in this year’s famine.

During the 30 hours the children broke up into small “tribes” that were led by an adult and an older child. In the groups the kids learned about different countries and cultures and respective hunger and nutrition challenges. This year the children learned about the people of the Amazon Rainforest.
The tribes competed against each other in various team building games and exercises over the course of the famine. This year the tribes had to work as teams to find a way to cross an imaginary Amazon River made out of warped two by fours.

After the famine, the congregation comes together for its worship service followed by a potluck dinner to break the fast.
For more information, visit oslc-warrenton.org

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