Category Archives: 40 Day Fast

40 Day Fast

Tomorrow is the last day of the 40 Day Fast. There have been a number of good posts recently, including this one by Kristin about fair trade. Check out in the coming days for a roundup of this year’s campaign.

edited to add: Kat has a post about the end of this year’s 40 Day Fast up now, and included the audio for the JJ Heller song I quoted in my post at the beginning of the 40 days, Little Things. Give it a listen.

40 Day Fast, 2008 – No other hands…

This post is my contribution to the 40 Day Fast. I blogged last year about Blood:Water Mission, and decided to do the same again this year because I believe in the work they are doing. Blake is blogging for team two today

In Frederick Buechner’s book Telling Secrets: a memoir, he recounts in brief a story he had shared in an earlier book:

“I described what from the outside looked like a trivial domestic scene with my mother but which turned out to be such a watershed of my life that I must describe it briefly now. We were just about to have a pleasant dinner together when a friend of mine telephoned to say that his family had been in an awful accident and to ask if I would come wait with him at the airport where he was to catch a plane to where the accident had happened. My mother was furious. She said I was a fool to think of ruining our evening together for such a ridiculous reason as that, and for a moment I was horrified to find myself thinking that maybe she was right. Then the next moment I saw more clearly than I ever had before that it is on just such outwardly trivial decisions as this – should I go or should I stay – that human souls are saved or lost. I also saw for what was maybe the first time in my life that we are called to love our neighbors not just for our neighbors’ sake but for our own sake, and that when John wrote, “He who does not love remains in death” (1 John 3:14), he was stating a fact of nature as incontrovertible as gravity.”

I started writing an essay last year that I haven’t returned to yet, titled On Being Selfish. The gist of the essay was that, while I help others in part because of the consequences for them if I don’t, I’ve come to realize that one motivation for me is the knowledge of what kind of person I’ll become if I don’t, what it will do to my soul if I make every decision based on how it will benefit me, based only on what I can get out of it.

In last year’s post about Blood:Water Mission, I wrote about how often a mother or her children are forced to walk 15 miles or more to get water. They do it to get water to survive, but without a clean water source, the water they go to such lengths to obtain will eventually kill them. I wrote about how the need to travel such distances for water not only affects the health of the family, but, because it can take up most of the day, the ability to become educated and to accomplish other basic tasks, and thus retards the process of a family, a community, rising out of abject poverty.

Today, I’d like to write about another issue that Blood:Water addresses that I haven’t seen talked about much: sanitation. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down for an hour at a coffee shop in downtown Nashville with Aaron Sands, Director of Donor Relations and Development for Blood:Water Mission. While we were talking, Derek Webb, one of the spokesmen for Blood:Water, came over from a nearby table he’d been working at, and we talked about the Ride:Well bike tour, which ends this Saturday, and some of the ways one participant, author Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz, To Own a Dragon), has been able to raise awareness of the work Blood:Water is doing, like with this video.

During the course of our talk, Aaron mentioned the difference it makes if health and hygiene are addressed when they enter a community, and how the benefits are even greater when sanitation is addressed as well. When he got back to the office, he sent me this statistic from the 1000 Wells Project staff: “Our experiences as well as countless studies show that providing clean water in a community will bring a 15-20% reduction in water borne diseases. If health and hygiene training (handwashing, food prep, etc) is provided as well, the reduction improves to 35%. If sanitation is addressed, a 60-65% reduction in water borne diseases occurs. Clean water is a doorway in, but is limited in its effect because habits and practices (and places to do them) must be reformed as well!”

The main campaign Blood:Water has going on is their 1000 Wells Project. Four years into the project, they have been able to fund 340 wells in 11 countries, making clean water available to more than 276,000 people in Africa. Each well provides water to anywhere from a few hundred people up to a thousand, on average. They have wells in smaller villages that provide all the water a community needs, and then they have wells in places like refugee camps in the Sudan, camps that are home to 40,000 people. At one point they had seven or eight wells in one camp, with people still lined up to get water around the clock.

The wells do more than just provide water to live. In places like Rwanda, they have seen communities come together over their mutual need for clean water, people groups with a long history of animosity putting aside their differences, for at least a little while, and beginning to build relationships. Blood:Water works with local groups in each community that are given the task of instructing people in health, hygiene, and sanitation practices, as well as being responsible for maintenance of the well, so that long-term change will happen. “By working in partnership with community members at the grass roots level and with larger organizations dedicated to their empowerment, the 1000 Wells Project is contributing to the holistic development of 1000 communities.”

If you want to be a part of the work Blood:Water Mission is doing, they have a number of suggestions on their website of ways you can contribute. Their Two Weeks of Sacrifice campaign is an easy way you can help make a difference, and one I’d recommend.

Quoting Frederick Buechner again, in his book Secrets in the Dark – A Life in Sermons, he has one sermon that I find myself returning to again and again, Waiting. He writes,

“Much of what goes on in churches, I’m afraid, is as shallow and lifeless as much of its preaching, and as irrelevant to the deep needs of the people who come to church hungering for a sense of God’s presence that they more often than not never find. The church is not just in the hands of the charlatans and clowns who are apt to be the ones who represent it to millions on television, but in the hands also of good and faithful people who nonetheless often seem to be going about the business of church, the busyness of church, with so little real conviction or passion or joy that it is no wonder pews tend to be emptier every year. And yet, in spite of all this, the church is also, in St. Paul’s unforgettable metaphor, the Body of Christ. On this planet at least, church is the only body that for the time being Christ has, which is to say that you and I are the only bodies Christ has. He has no hands to reach out to people with except our hands, no feet to go to them except our feet, no other eyes to see them with, no other faces to show them his love.”

I’m reminded of a quote that author/musician Michael Card has on the wall of his recording studio: “Let the excellence of your work be your protest.” While Mike was thinking of his music when he had that quote printed there, it applies across the board. So when I get frustrated with what I sometimes see in the American church or on religious television, when I don’t like the image presented of the Church, my response should be not one of despair or cynicism, but an increased desire to be the body of Christ, to show his love to others. To take personal responsibility for the perception those around me, and those across the world, have of Christ’s body. To live as if the Gospel were true, as if Christ truly will make all things new. As if Christ has made all things new. And hopefully I’m tending toward the latter response a little more every day.

40 Day Fast – Natalie Grant

Today’s blogger for the 40 Day Fast is Natalie Grant. She’s writing about The Home Foundation, an organization she started a couple years ago to address the growing problem of human trafficking in the world today. Read her post here, and remember to keep checking every day to read the new posts in the 40 Day Fast campaign.

I’m sitting here at Cafe Crema, having just interviewed Aaron Sands, the donor relations coordinator for Blood:Water Mission, in preparation for my post on Monday about Blood:Water. Remember you can follow the progress of the Ride:Well bike tour that is raising money for Blood:Water on the tour’s website, They left Nashville yesterday, and should be arriving in D.C. the end of next week.

40 Day Fast – Shaun Groves

Today’s blogger for the 40 Day Fast is Shaun. He writes:

If my children grow up to be average Americans I’ll have failed them as a parent.

If they spend four hours a day watching other people live on a television screen. If they’re bored.

If they go to school to get a job so their kids can go to school so they can get a job so their kids can go to school…If they’re without purpose.

If they take more than they give and want more than they have. If they’re greedy.

If everyone in their prayers looks like them. If they’re unaware.

I’ve failed.

Here’s the link to the rest of his post.

40 Day Fast: Day 9 – Jason Gray

Jason Gray is today’s blogger for Day 9 of the 40 Day Fast, and he shares his story about working with World Vision. Here are a couple excerpts.

I’m a singer/songwriter living in the Minneapolis area and I’ve always believed in music and the power it has to move people, to comfort, to elucidate truth, the help us feel in a world that seems determined to leave us numb to the beauty, terror, hope, and longing all around us and even inside of us. So with a guitar and scraps of words I do my best to feel the weight of my times and hope to help others feel, too. I’m grateful for my work but it involves a lot of time away from family and friends, modest pay, and criticism or indifference with occasional moments of appreciation for my work. I don’t mean to sound like I feel sorry for myself – I’m grateful for what I get to do. But I mean this to say that I began to need more than the vain promises of rock and roll glory to make the requisite sacrifices I make…

The last time I was in Africa, I spent most of my time wrestling with God. Besides personal struggles and trying to process what I had seen of the abysmal poverty there, there was also the matter of our friend Carol who became severely ill the day we arrived in Lesotho and was eventually hospitalized from what appeared to be food poisoning. She and her husband had worked hard to be able to go on this trip in hopes of meeting their sponsored child and seeing the work of World Vision first hand. Though our team prayed fervently for her Carol fell deeper and deeper into the clutches of a violent sickness. “God must have a purpose in this,” some said, or offered similar sentiments to the effect of this somehow being a part of God’s plan.

I get that thought, and it may even be true, but I’m always troubled by how easily those words come to us and I wonder if, sometimes at least, it isn’t our way of dismissing situations that we’d rather not engage, a way of avoiding the mental and spiritual wrestling matches that are troubling and notorious for leaving us re-named and with a permanent limp.

Read his full post here.

40 Day Fast: Day 3

Today’s blogger for the 40 Day Fast is Brian Seay. I got to know Brian while attending a weekly Bible study he taught with his brother-in-law, Shaun Groves, and he has gone on to become the Artists Relations Manager for Compassion International. So today, he wrote about the work Compassion is doing in addressing the global food crisis, and what the high cost of oil means for those in other countries.

“I spent most of my life in a naive state of bliss. I just figured what happened in my world stayed in my world. A trip to Uganda in 1997 changed that for me and I realized how interconnected the entire world really is. You see, our high gas prices are a pain for us but the reality is I still fill my car up and drive off upset but with a full tank of gas and usually a Mountain Dew to go with it. The reality is that the rising cost of oil is crippling the poorest of the poor throughout the world and forcing families to go to bed hungry every night. That truth makes my frustration about the price of unleaded just plain ridiculous.

In Haiti, Jehu’s home, the price of rice went up 78% in less than a month earlier this year. In Ethiopia, the cost of buying the ingredients for their staple food, injeera, doubled in the last few months. In Bangladesh, 90% of the children Compassion serves are being directly affected by rising food prices.”

Read Brian’s post here.

40 Day Fast, 2008

About this time last year, I wrote a post about making a difference, about giving a damn, explaining why I was participating in the 40 Day Fast. And when my day rolled around, I blogged about killing ourselves, about what it does to us when we ignore the needs of those around us. I wrote about Blood:Water Mission and the ways we can make a tangible difference in the lives of our neighbors, others created, like us, in the image of God. And I ended my post by trying to articulate why I think it is important to live this way, to live as if the Gospel were true. I wrote, “Toward the end of his song White Dove, Andrew Osenga keeps repeating the line “Every sad thing will become untrue.” As we live in the tension of the already-and-not-yet of the Kingdom of God, as we embrace its paradoxical nature and hope and wait for everything to be made new, let us live our lives today as evidence of the redemptive work of Christ so that others may hear and see the echoes of His Kingdom in all we say and do.”

Today marks the beginning of the 40 Day Fast for 2008. I encourage you to follow along on the Inspired to Action website, a site birthed out of last year’s event. I’ll be contributing a post on July 21st, writing once again about Blood:Water Mission. Brant Hansen, who was also a part of our group last year, has kicked things off by writing a post about Where God Lives.

In her song Little Things, my friend JJ Heller (and her husband Dave) reminds us that it’s the little things we do that make a difference, a good reminder at the start of this event where there is the danger that we will be overwhelmed by the needs we are exposed to and so remain inactive.

There are not enough minutes in the day
I am crippled by the thought of wasting time
I don’t have enough money to heal the poor
So I don’t want to try

But it’s the little things that make a difference
It’s the little things that show love
It’s the little things
A simple cup of water that can change the world
That can save our sons and daughters

I’ll be praying for the widow all alone
Sewing clothes for a loaf of bread
It is not my fault that she is hungry
It’s my joy to make sure she’s fed


We are all related, children of the King
We may not have much, but what we have we bring

But it’s the little things that make a difference
It’s the little things that show love
It’s the little things
A simple cup of water that can change the world
That can save our sons and daughters

40 Day Fast – Get a Goat

Today is the last day of the 40 day fast that Kat organized, and she is asking people to help buy a goat. “A goat nourishes a family with fresh milk, cheese, and yogurt, and can offer a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market.”. World Vision has a program set up to provide goats for families in need, and Kat has already donated money for two goats from the donations that have come in since yesterday morning. If you want to take part in this, do so before midnight tonight by going here. Kat is asking for just one dollar, but you can give more if you want.

40 Day Fast: Andrew Osenga (Day 25)

I’ve been meaning to write more about the 40 Day Fast here, but my work schedule over the last couple weeks has been so crazy (90 hours last week) that I haven’t had the chance. So here’s another post, finally.

Andrew Osenga is today’s blogger, and he draws attention to the Dalit in India. He writes:

I got to travel to India a few years ago with Caedmon’s to write and record an album based on stories of the Dalit.

The first night of our trip was in Mumbai, formerly Bombay, and we stayed in a hotel called the Leela. It was nice, very nice, actually. And down the street was a really nice Hyatt. In between them was a big garbage heap, and over a hundred people living in it. Children were living in it. Children were living in the garbage right outside my window. And somehow I still went to sleep.

We were just surrounded by incredible oppression. It’s not just poverty. Poverty is when no one has anything. Oppression is when one of the richest countries in the world has over half of its people living in poverty.

Read the rest of Andy’s post here.