Fasting for Serve

My name is John Eigege. I am a church planter from Nigeria working in Houston, Texas. Over the past three years, God has taken my family on a wild ride as we plant a church that connects Houston’s Midtown and Third Ward neighborhoods. These two neighborhoods, separated only by a highway, are polar opposites economically, socially and ethnically. Our church plant, Square Inch Houston, seeks to reconcile, renew, and restore all things through the gospel of Jesus Christ.


God has definitely connected my heart with the collective heart of Youth Unlimited. The Serve experience is one that seeks to help youth join Christ in the renewal of all things. During Serve, this intense, catalytic, week long mission experience, youth gather in worship, grow in community and go out to join in Christ’s mission of restoration in our world.


Every year, my heart says a resounding yes to the privilege of being the speaker at the Houston Serve site. However, this year was a wee-bit challenging. Houston Serve 2014 fell smack-dab in the middle of the 2014 FIFA World Cup! Remember, I am from Nigeria. Any kind of football (or soccer, as it is called here) is a pretty big deal for me. Since it happens only once every four years, the World Cup is the Holy Grail of sports competitions for me.


In ways of poetic justice that only God is capable of, our theme for this year revolved around Isaiah 58. Isaiah 58 is God’s trumpet call to his people to give up “lip-service”, and replace it with true worship and fast. In true worship and fast, we give up something good in order to gain something great! After my initial pity party, it became very evident that The World Cup would have to take the back seat this year. I would have to give up something good for something great.


When we give up something good for the greatness of God’s Kingdom, amazing things happen. At Serve, I saw youth from various churches pouring themselves out on behalf of the poor and oppressed. I saw high school students seeking righteousness through right relationships and justice through right actions. I saw host churches becoming catalysts for spiritual and physical revitalization in neighborhoods and the lives of individuals and families.


I saw young Christians, broken by guilt, shame, fear and inadequacy at the beginning of the week lay those burdens down at the foot of the cross. I saw the Holy Spirit work in them through worship, relationships and acts of service throughout Serve. By week’s end, I saw these same youth receive a new identity in Christ as powerful sons and daughters of King Jesus. They literally became repairers of broken walls,and restorers of street dwellings.


Our acts of service daily ended in worship, and our worship daily lead to acts of service. God used Serve as a catalyst to help us love him with all that we are and love our neighbors as ourselves. Through it all, God used Serve to fulfill his desire; to transform us, in the power of the Holy Spirit, into the image and likeness of his son, Jesus.


Right after Serve, my family and I made our scheduled move from Midtown into Houston’s Third Ward. We seek to be agents of transformation in our community. We seek to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We seek reconciliation, renewal and restoration of all facets of life through the gospel of Jesus Christ. For us, the Serve experience is an invaluable spark that keeps moving our vision and mission of restoration forward the remaining fifty-one weeks of the year. We are carrying the momentum of Serve with us as we learn to forever find our sense of purpose, our identity, and rest in Jesus Christ as his agents of transformation in this world.


“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, too him be glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”

Fast Without the Furious

A pastor I’ve known for a long time challenged me to fast periodically. I used to grit my teeth and commit to grind out the duration of the fast, believing it was good for expanding my heart’s passion for the Lord and compassion for others. I joked about reversing the Daniel Fast and only eating meats and sweets. Of all the spiritual disciplines, fasting is the one I’ve struggled with the most.

In the book, Fast Living, I finally caught a glimpse of fasting that touched my heart and moved me to a more genuine act of worship. The author points out that there are moments in the human experience that no one would consider eating, such as a bride taking the arm of her father to walk down the isle. At that moment stopping for a meatball sub would never cross her mind. Similarly, no one approaching the scene of a tragic accident reaches for a snack. No one enters an appointment to hear a serious diagnosis with a to-go bag.

There are moments in life, points of impact, when human appetites fade due to something more significant. Life priorities shuffle. We realize the most important things in life are unseen, untouchable by hands and only touched in the deepest places of our hearts.

This is a good introduction to fasting.  As we get a glimpse of this world the way God sees it, our human appetites for the things of this world fade and laying them aside for a season is just reasonable or even welcome. With a true view from God’s perspective one could ask: “How can I consume so much when others have so little? How can I enjoy such comforts and excess when God’s heart is broken for people in need of basic life resources? Can’t I use more of what he has given me to help them?”

We are convicted that for a season we could:

  • Eat less and less often so that, through God’s leading, we can pray more and more fervently for those around the world in need.
  • Shower quicker and pray more as an act of solidarity with those who have little water.
  • Abstain from an entertainment in order to spend more time with the Lord and others following him so we can pray, listen and then act.

Listening to the Lord and becoming educated on his view of the world is essential then for True Fasting.

This is why Youth Unlimited has collaborated with both LIVE 58 and World Renew for the 2014 Serve theme material. Together, we just sent 2,500 copies of Fast Living to church pastors across Canada and the U.S.

LIVE 58 has become an amplifier for Isaiah 58, making the message of God’s heart for a hurting world simple to access. Their website and resources are creative, fun and meant for friends and groups to do together. Check them out at

World Renew has many real life stories not just of need, but of courage and hope and followers of Christ around the world who pull together the assets of a community and make a difference through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Check them out at

This year, we want to help your students sense the heart of the Lord for this hurting world. We want to see the appetites of this world fade in the light of God’s longing for his people to help others. The Serve experience will call students to fast for a week from ordinary comforts and conveniences and inspire them to engage in praying, fasting, giving and being an advocate in their church for the rest of the year.