Letter from Thomas Kemper
A Season of Prayer and Fasting
Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten season. In the weeks that follow, Christians reflect on Jesus' journey leading up to his crucifixion and ultimate triumph over death through resurrection. From the beginning of the early church, the time from Ash Wednesday to Easter was also a time of fasting. Fasting means "reduction," or "giving up," so that we are able to concentrate on the essentials. Many people very intentionally decide what they will not do or eat and what they will give up in these weeks. Very often we talk about giving up alcohol, sweets, television, or even all three together. This can be good, and it can be a healing experience, because it shows that we have the freedom to be different--that we can do things differently--and experience a new freedom.
Last year, more than 40 Global Ministries staff members participated in a B1 Fast during the Lenten Season. B1 stands for "one being, being one." This youth program, housed in the office of The Advance, seeks to connect youth to issues facing their sisters and brothers both in their immediate communities and around the world. The staff raised $1,500 for Advance mission projects around the world during their Lenten fast. Since last year's office event, youth from all across the country have also participated in a B1 fasting event in their local churches. Learn more about the B1 Program.
The participating staff at Global Ministries fast each Wednesday, beginning on Ash Wednesday. Participating staff members are encouraged to drink only water and juice the day of the fast, donating the money they would have spent on food that day to one of the B1 Advance projects they choose. Alternatives to food fasting are also available.
Weekly reflections, written by young adult missionaries and Global Ministries staff, are disseminated each week, and a time of worship and reflection takes place at the end of the event. I invite you to journey and fast with us each week as we lift up the needs of young people around the globe.
I also invite you to journey with SPSARV, the Special Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence, during this Lenten season. SPSARV is offering a 2011 devotional, Hope for the Transformation from Addiction to Abundance (PDF, 29 pp., 1,122 KB) for the friends, families, and beloved children of God who are challenged by the disease of alcoholism and addiction. This downloadable, free resource is bound to challenge, inspire, and comfort readers.
The 30-page devotional is organized around the themes of hope, health, healing, and wholeness. Each of the 16 meditations offers a Bible passage, a story, and reflection questions. The authors share diverse personal, professional, and Christian perspectives on hope in response to the scourge of alcoholism and substance abuse--diseases that strike every stratum of society.
During this season of Lent, let us continue to journey with Jesus to the cross, standing in solidarity with people around the world who suffer from spiritual and physical needs. Let us continue the journey forth with a spirit of hope, health, healing, and wholeness to build God's kingdom and connect the church in mission all around the world!
General Board of Global Ministries