SINGAPORE - Youths aged 14-23 are invited to step into the shoes of the suffering and the poor of Asia by participating in a 24-hour FAST from Aug 18 to 19. By literally fasting, these youths will experience hunger and poverty, and they will be asked to reflect on issues of globalization and oppression.
FAST, which means For Asia Solidarity Together, is organized by acts29, a Catholic youth ministry whose objective is to invite young people to enter into a dialogue of life with the poor through overseas mission programmes.
FAST came about when acts29 members Sylvester Singh and Sherlyn Khong were in Brunei last Lent to run sessions on mission and poverty for Catholic youths to prepare them for their 30-hour fasting exercise, "Famine".
This experience inspired and empowered Sherlyn. "We were very touched by the eagerness of the youths as young as 13 years old coming together to fast for a cause. These youths were as affluent as our Singapore youths and they were willing to give up all comforts and food for 30 hours. There was great solidarity and energy. One would not have guessed that 30 hours later, the youths had not taken a single bite, not even a drop of milk. They were still energetic, vibrant and praising God."
"If these youths could come together for a worthy cause, how about the youths in Singapore?" Sherlyn pondered.
Since Sylvester's and Sherlyn's return from Brunei, acts29 has been working to make this event a reality.
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Sherlyn also shared their recognition that Asia is a vast continent but where Christianity has only a minor presence in the Asian population of billions who practise different religions. This is an opportunity for youths to recognize their roles to help eradicate poverty in Asia and to learn how to be a witness for Jesus in Asia.
acts29 spent a few months working on the programme for this FAST and studied "Redemptoris Missio" and other documents on mission and the church in Asia.
It hopes FAST will help Singapore youths play a role as communicators of hope in Asia. Participants can look forward to games, activities, interaction and sharing on how they can help eradicate poverty in Asia. Sharing will be based on the teachings of Christ.
Youths aged above 15 will also be invited to take part in acts29's exposure immersion programme. Youths can choose from a seven-day or 14-day programme beginning in December or a one-day programme in January 2008. acts29 hopes that through these activities young people will be inspired to continue on the mission of Christ.
FAST will be held at the Catholic Archdiocesan Youth Centre (CAYC) at No. 2, Lorong Low Koon from Aug 18 at 9.00am to Aug 19 at 2.00pm at a cost of $15. It is open to all youths, Catholic or non-Catholic. Adults and families can join in a Night Vigil to be held on Aug 18 at 7.30pm. There will be Taize prayers till 11.00pm.