MILL CREEK — More than 100 teenagers with empty bellies filled the worship hall at Faith Fellowship Church in Mill Creek on Friday night for a youth rally of live music, games, juice — and 30 hours of fasting.
On Saturday, the hungry teens headed out to their communities to serve meals at two missions and to collect food and money for charities.
The youths were from a dozen churches in Mill Creek, Snohomish, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Everett, Redmond, Shoreline, Silvana and Sedro-Woolley. They gathered to support each other in their fasting and to play games, listen to the Christian rock band Skybridge and do service work.
All this was to raise awareness of world hunger and to raise money for World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization. The fast started at noon Friday and ended at 6 p.m. Saturday.
"This really gives me a chance to feel how maybe another child feels who doesn’t have enough to eat," said Jamie Aanenson, 18, who helped organize the rally at her church, her senior project at Bothell High School.
The rally provides fellowship with other Christians, "and it helps keep you strong in what you are doing," Aanenson said.
Each student solicited sponsors to pledge money for their fast. The teens raised a total of $16,000 for World Vision.
World Vision uses the money to provide food, water, sanitation, agricultural and health projects to children in poverty-stricken countries such as Ethiopia, Peru and Zimbabwe, said Debbie Diederich, national director of the World Vision 30-hour Famine.
"The 30-hour famine changes the lives of not only the children being helped, but the teens themselves, who really stretch themselves and sacrifice to put others before them," Diederich said.
"This year, our fund-raising goal is $8.3 million, but the overall impact of the funds raised and hearts changed through the 30-hour famine is incomprehensible," she said.
Last year, half a million teens across the United States participated in similar events, raising $7.7 million through pledges from sponsors and group fund-raisers.
Rebecca Hastings, 15, of New Hope Christian Church in Mountlake Terrace said this was the first time she had fasted.
"It’s been hard. There’s been sometimes when I’ve wanted to grab a cookie or something, but it’s pure determination for me, and this is such a good cause," Hastings said. "It’s really showing me I can do this and make a difference."
Angela DeBell, youth director of New Hope Christian Church, said she encouraged her youth group to participate "because I really wanted the kids to step out of their comfort zone and experience true hunger, because they have very comfortable lives. I wanted them to see the bigger picture."
On Saturday, several of the youth groups headed to the Everett Gospel Mission and Union Gospel Mission in Seattle to serve breakfast and lunch. Others went door-to-door collecting canned food for the missions and money for World Vision.
"Serving food at the mission is hard, especially when you are hungry, but we just pray about it and support each other," said Carrie Wooldridge, 18, of Shoreline.
At the end of the fast, what’s the first thing she wanted to eat?
"The parents of our youth group are cooking dinner for us, and I’m heading straight for the macaroni and cheese," Wooldridge said with a laugh.
Reporter Pam Brice: 425-339-3439 or firstname.lastname@example.org.