Giving up something for Lent has been taking place for almost as long as Christianity has been around.
Initially, it focused primarily on giving up something that one ate or drank, even fasting of one meal or more each day.
Soon, it evolved into giving up certain luxuries or types of food.
In more modern times, it has often meant giving up something which a person deems harmful in their lives – alcohol, salt, sugar, meat, candy, soda, etc.
Sometimes, any material gain that is realized by giving up something is given away to some charitable cause at the end…
Like most tenants of Christianity – think Christmas, Easter, All Saints Day (Hallowed Eve) – this practice of giving up something for Lent has entered into culture. Thus, we begin to see things popup like lists of “The Top Ten Things to Give Up.”
Many atheists claim this tradition of giving something up for Lent has no religious connotation. People give up chocolate or Facebook or pizza or popcorn or shopping, or whatever it is, and much of it has nothing, or very little, to do with the original meaning of sacrifice as a means of penitence (of joining Jesus in his ultimate sacrifice), but becomes just another momentary fad.
At Hope, we enter into the season of giving up something for Lent each year with something very specific – namely our hard-earned money. Over the years during Lent, we have raised nearly half a million dollars for malaria nets in Africa, dug more than 140 wells for clean water in Ghana (at $8,000 per well), built 116 churches in Ghana, and provided more than 1.6 million meals for Haiti.
In 2014, through our “If We Build It, They Will Come” campaign, we are again encouraging people to “give up” so we can build scores of new churches in Ghana, and help introduce thousands of new people to Christ.
This year, with every $3,500 that’s donated, a church structure, drums, seating, altar, gas lamp and five Bibles will be provided to a village in need. Our mission partner, Globeserve, has been working hard to train leaders to lead these future churches – and now, all they need is a place to send them.
A pretty neat thing about these Lenten projects is that by giving to a specific need during Lent, it has far more resonance and lasting quality than giving up a particular food or drink, for example.
Long after Lent has passed, and people go back to doing whatever it was they gave up, the wells and the new churches will still be providing water, and living water, for thousands of people.
So, this Lent, consider being a part of “If We Build It, They Will Come” – a Lenten project that is transforming lives, villages, churches… and nations.
Learn more about Hope’s 2014 Lenten Project, “If We Build It, They Will Come” here.