The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 1, 2013

Rich Brown: Fasting youths leave lasting impression

By Rich Brown
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — Today marks the end of Lent for many Christian denominations, with Easter to be celebrated on Sunday.

Lent, of course, is the 40 days leading up to Easter as a time to search one's soul, reflect, take stock and repent.

Not many years ago I learned of the sacrifices made by a Carthage youth group toward this end, and it gave me new meaning and purpose for this holy season. The huge step of faith taken by the youngsters from Grace Episcopal Church during Lent remains etched in my memory and becomes even more vivid as Easter rolls around each year.

On Ash Wednesday, those youngsters began a 40-day fast, which ran through the day before Easter. Their goal was to give up so much in their lives to raise money for people with so little left in theirs. In this case it happened to be the people of Haiti in light of the earthquake that left their land devastated.

As I thought about the sacrifices these teens made, I realized that what they were doing was not just for a few days, or perhaps a week, but 40 days. Then I was reminded of the significance of the number 40 throughout the Bible.

The 40 days of Lent, marked by fasting from both food and festivities, as well as other acts of penance, often include a time for people to give up a vice of theirs, add something that will bring them closer to God and give the time or money spent doing that to charitable causes.

Some have called Lent a season of grief that necessarily ends with the great celebration of Easter. In fact, those from the Eastern Orthodox world have labeled it the "season of bright sadness."

Whatever it is, I am blessed -- not only because of what it represents, but also from the actions taken by these Carthage youths, who remind us of what Easter is all about.

Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email