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What is Global Fast?

Contact: Global Fast, 310-873-7566


OPINION, Feb. 20 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is submitted for publication by Rich Halvorson, the founder of Global Fast:


What is Global Fast?


Beginning this year, Ash Wednesday comes with a new twist – millions fasting not only for personal piety, but to create global change.


We're all familiar with our world's many ills – but are there any present cures? Global Fast proposes one small step: What if some of us who ate our fill yesterday chose to give up our food just for today?


On any given day, over 2 billion people lack clean water and adequate food to sustain good health. Over 20,000 children die each day due to easily preventable diseases – most often a result of unclean water or inadequate nutrients.


One American giving up one day's food cost can provide clean water for one person in Ethiopia for ten years. Ten Americans giving up their day's food expense can provide a micro-loan to help a struggling family start a business in the Philippines – a business that will help provide food, employment, and shelter for years.


But Global Fast is about collective action. Not the collective action of protests and petitions, but real charity – giving of ourselves for others – on a large scale.


By giving our food for just one day, we can create global impact for a lifetime.


Ten million Americans giving our food for a day could help start one million new businesses for struggling families, or provide water for 10 million people for 10 years.


Fasters are not asked or required to give through any specific charity. However, if they choose to donate to any of seven Global Fast charity partners, their gift will be matched to create a double impact.


Kicking off on Ash Wednesday – the most widely observed day of fasting on the Christian calendar – Global Fast aims for spiritual impact as well as material. Fasting is considered an important means for personal spiritual growth, but can also be a time to pray for national or global change with one's fellow penitents.


Although fasting is an ancient spiritual practice, it remains recognized today as a useful self-discipline for physical health and vitality. Most of us are not accustomed, however, to telling our stomachs a firm 'no' when they growl and pang for food.


During a fast, this experience of hunger is an opportunity to identify in some small way with the billions who suffer with hunger on a daily basis – and pray for relief to their pain and poverty through our own hunger pangs that pale in comparison.


Too often, however, we pity their visible poverty as though we were separate and untouched by it. But our poverty simply looks different – ours is a spiritual poverty we express through body issues, eating disorders, plastic implants, depression and meaningless violence.


We should not really pity the poor, then, but consider ourselves as equals and fellow travelers. We hope that they will pray for our bondage in materialism and spiritual poverty, and we fast for them in their dire need and material poverty.


As we have launched a grassroots effort to spread the idea of Global Fast, I have been surprised by the one word we hear over and over – "beautiful."


What makes Global Fast beautiful? The best explanation I can conceive is that fasting for the sake of others is a way to truly participate in the 'good news' of compassion and charity that are at the core of Jesus' powerful message to the world.


Perhaps that compassion is the key spiritual kernel that has given Jesus over two billion followers – the idea that "God so loved the world" to make a sacrifice on our behalf.


In some small way, Global Fast is an invitation to live out that altruism and compassion. By giving our food for one day so that another might live, we are participating in a personal sacrifice that is the true heart of real love and human purpose.