Campus Crusade for Christ members continue five-day fast

By Kristen Rains

Members of the Campus Crusade for Christ convened Sunday to prepare for what is a very hungry week for them, with not so much as a Flintstone vitamin to suppress their hunger.

Tuesday marks the second day of this student-initiated fasting period that started Monday morning and will continue through Friday. According to the tradition of fasting, the goal of this self-deprivation is to contribute to a growing relationship with God. As a means of coming together during this difficult week, prayer meetings are offered every night for members to share each other’s experiences and sufferings.

David Bernthal, the student coordinator of the event and a senior in LAS, has experienced the effects of fasting before. At Sunday’s meeting, he took the time to list the negative aspects of fasting as a way of forewarning those who have never participated, and who do not know what to expect.

“You’re going to feel hungry, fatigued, uncomfortable, sore, stiff, sleepy, tired,” Bernthal said, “You’re also going to have bad breath.”

Bernthal, however, insisted that the experience would be a spiritual one.

“This is a time of purification and separation from the world; a time of spiritual truths,” Bernthal said.

Nicole Winte, a nutritionist at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, expressed some concern for students participating in the fast. She said the students are going to be depriving themselves of much needed energy, and as a result, they could experience difficulty concentrating and excessive tiredness.

“Fasting is going to play a mind game on them,” Winte said. “They are going to be losing important nutrients every day.”

Bernthal said this is all a part of the experience and said when one feels hungry, one becomes more attune to one’s spiritual need for a relationship with God.

The event is not designed to put students at risk, which is something Bernthal addressed at the meeting. He encouraged those with serious health problems to abstain from the event. As an alternative to fasting from food, Bernthal suggested the idea of fasting from something more material which might be equally difficult to give up, like cell phones or television.

Bernthal said an important part of fasting is to be able to say to yourself, “Lord, I want you more than I want this thing.” Traditionally, fasting means abstaining from food, but this is not always an option.

For those who have never fasted before, Bernthal suggested that they ease into it. He offered the option of discarding only one meal from your daily routine instead of all of them.

Participants include a variety of people with a common goal.

“Giving up something essential is a good way to draw yourself closer to God,” said Lisa Garnett, senior in ACES.

Garnett’s fellow Campus Crusades attendee, Keith Brown, junior in Engineering, said he hoped this week would help him feel better about his relationship with God.

Bernthal was good humored about the event and jokingly suggested that participants not take the easy way out by sleeping all week as a means of avoiding the discomfort. The discomfort is meant to add to the spiritual experience, he said.

Winte said that anyone worried about the pain will find some relief.

“Eventually, you start to lose the feeling of hunger,” she said.