It wasn’t quite the sub-zero temperatures I was coping with last time I did Slum Survivor but the thought of rice and lentils for dinner and breakfast, of sleeping on a thin piece of card, or brushing my teeth over a drain with a bottle of water still remained as 19 of us gathered last Friday to take part in a Slum Survivor event.
Slum Survivor is a resource designed to give young people the opportunity to connect with the lives of some of the poorest people around the world. It’s a simulation exercise with challenges to help the young people engage- these involve building slums to sleep in for the weekend, other challenges affecting daily life like collecting water from a far away tap and eating a limited diet for the weekend. A whole group of Soul61s gathered to take part in a Slum Survivor event and here are some thoughts from the weekend…
Hosea 1:2-3 says;
‘When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.’ (NIV)
This passage came up in one of the Bible studies we looked at over the weekend where we discussed the importance of identifying with others as we let God change our hearts towards the issues of pain, suffering and poverty around the world.
Personally, this challenged me the most over the weekend. God wanted Hosea to speak to God’s people, Israel, about their unfaithfulness to him and how that was breaking his heart. So he asked Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman- having experienced firsthand what it felt like, Hosea would have spoken to the people of Israel more passionately. In a similar way, once we’ve experienced Slum Survivor and a snapshot of something of the daily reality for 1 billion people in our world, we can act more passionately to change the situation so many find themselves in. We’ve let an experience change our hearts and so from our hearts we can act. Out of a deep and real love and compassion we can work to change the unfair reality so many people find themselves in.
The great thing about Slum Survivor is that it affects different people in different ways- coming away with different personal highlights and lowlights, challenges and lessons learnt means that as a group we are so fired up to make a change in this world and can support each other in different ways according to our gifts and passions. I’ve asked a few of the great people who took part in Slum Survivor last weekend to put their experience into their own words.
After signing up to do Slum Survivor with 20 of my friends, it’s safe to say that I approached the weekend with a different perspective to how I left it. It gradually dawned on me that despite the fact that this was a weekend spent hanging out with others and strengthening friendships, it was also filled with so much more.
I can’t honestly say that I experienced true hunger, and real sleep deprivation but Slum Survivor helped to give a glimpse into the lives of some of the world’s poorest. The difference between my weekend and the lives of millions around the world was that I still clung to the fact that when I returned home and all the slums had been packed down, I’d get into my comfy bed and have a warm coffee.
I’m so grateful for the weekend as it allowed conversations to open with peers, and views to be challenged and discussed. It was an experience that will contribute to the way that I view others that are less fortunate than myself and the actions I take to start making a difference locally.
Will (who prefers to go by his official title- Slum Making Champion 2014)
My prayer just before Slum Survivor was that I wouldn’t enjoy it, I thought if I did then I’d completely miss the point. Unfortunately I did really enjoy it, but despite that, God still spoke. It soon become apparent that at the other end of the weekend there was always a hot shower and coffee to look forward to. Realising that what we experienced for a couple of days was only a fraction of what a large percentage of the world experience on a day to day basis with no hope of anything else, was scary. There isn’t a nice warm bed awaiting them at the end of it. Doing Slum Survivor really made that a lot more real for me.
I went into Slum Survivor looking at it no more than a sleepover with a difference. Less than 24 hours in I was hungry, thirsty, scared and so exhausted. God met with me in such a powerful way and broke my heart for the people living like this. It has been a life changing experience that I hope to never forget!