The Global Challenge: Eat Refugee Rations

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Five days of eating just oatmeal, rice, beans and flour? The whole church? Yes! Because when we experience something, we remember it, and it changes us. The whole family and the whole church gets involved. Let’s shake things up and take The Global Challenge: Eat Refugee Rations.


Why do this Global Challenge?

We do these kinds of experiences to pray for refugees and unreached people groups through experiential prayer and a form of fasting in a fun way that includes the whole family and the whole church. We'll also expand our worldview about global realities and the desperate refugee situation around the world today. While we go without the luxury of eating whatever we want, whenever we want, however much we want, we'll experience the self-discipline of being content with less. As we eat the same amount and type of food served in refugee camps, we identify with the other half of the world who live with less. And then we get to give generously to people in a suffering and strategic place, using funds we didn’t spend on food we would have bought.

Here’s how it can work for a whole church to do the challenge together:

  1. Plan the Global Challenge around a weekend sermon series on God’s heart for that nations.

  2. Adapt and design your own Global Challenge: Refugee Rations Guidebook to highlight an unreached people group or two that happen to be refugees. Use the information below to create your own version of the Global Challenge: Refugee Rations. Check out this example of a customized Global Challenge called Give it Up that one church created on their own combining elements from all three of these Challenges.

  3. Kick off the series by providing a Rations Kit, with enough oatmeal, flour, beans and rice for five days), a Refugee Rations Guidebook (that you create), and a Gameboard printed on cardstock. Also, make sure you create a way for them to sign-up when they pick up their Ration Kit so you can communicate with them throughout the week. Do you have to provide the actual ingredients? In my experience, yes, if you want them to actually do it, and to create a buzz around it at the weekend services. Look at it as an investment in giving towards a refugee cause.

  4. At the following weekend services, invite people who participated to give the money they would have spent on food. In the services, you could highlight an overseas field workers or an organization you know helping refugees. And then send them the funds!

Optional ideas for churches:

  • You could include a copy of Across the Street and Around the World to read during the Global Challenge, or offer it as a gift for those who complete the challenge. People will get inspired by this experience and they’ll want to know what to do next. This book will help them! (Call ChurchSource at 1-800-727-3480 for deep discounts on bulk orders if you are a church).

  • Encourage any mid-week gatherings like small groups, youth groups, and Bible studies to cook and eat the rations together, debrief with each other, and pray about refugees.

  • Create an online space like a Facebook page or a blog for participants to interact and share experiences throughout the week. For example, here’s a journal blog I posted while living for a day without lights.

  • In the Global Challenge guide you create, use Joshua Project to highlight unreached people groups and link to some of the videos recommended for each book chapter.

  • Do the Global Challenge the same week you're sending a short-term team on a vision trip. You could even video chat live in the service with the team overseas the second weekend, tying the theme into the all-church experience.

  • Plan a Saturday serve day at an apartment complex housing newly arriving refugees in your city.

  • Plan a Friday night celebration night of worship and interactive prayer for the nations. Break the "fast" this night by eating food together to encourage community and sharing of experiences.

  • Offer the chance to sign up for upcoming short-term trips, goer missional small groups using Across the Street and Around the World, a Perspectives course, or welcoming a refugee in your city, at the end of the Global Challenge.

Q&A For Participants who do the challenge

What should be in the rations kit?

3 cups of dry oatmeal for each person for the whole 5 days

3 cups of dried beans for each person for the whole 5 days

3 cups of dried rice for each person for the whole 5 days

3 cups of flour for each person for the whole 5 days

Instructions and ideas for recipes.

An printed game board on card stock.

What are optional additions to the rations?

Milk, sugar, salt, oil, spices, tea and coffee. You can purchase those on your own.

What might the simple daily meal plan look like?

Breakfast – Oatmeal – ½ cup of dry oatmeal (makes 1C cooked)

Lunch – ½ cup of dried pinto beans (makes 1C cooked) and 1/3 cup of dry rice (makes 1C cooked) and a tortilla.

Dinner – ½ cup of dried pinto beans (makes 1C cooked) and 1/3 cup of dry rice (makes 1C cooked) and a piece of bread.

Do I have to do it exactly like this?

These suggested servings are just suggestions. If you can only do one meal, do one. If you only can do two days instead of five, go for it. If you’re gluten-free or allergic to something in the kit, just supplement it with something similar your body can process. Be creative.  The point of the Global Challenge is not to adhere to a strict set of rules or worry whether you’ve done it just right.

Why should I do the Global Challenge: Refugee Rations?

Because you will PRAY when you’re hungry (or tired of beans), EXPAND your global awareness, PRACTICE contentment in self-denial, IDENTIFY WITH and BE generous towards the rest of the two-thirds world.

What about my children? 

Your children can do this too!  It’s nourishing enough and they won’t go hungry.  We’re all a little spoiled and this might help them really get a different perspective.  They can learn prayer, global realities, contentment, and generosity too.  Use the daily questions in the kit  -- and make sure to roll the dice every day on the game board to see what twists will happen for the day!

How much does it cost to eat like this?

About $1 dollar per day per person. 

How will this help the hungry? 

We encourage you to estimate what you would have spent on your usual food–either at the grocery store or at a restaurant. Bring it to church the next weekend if you’re doing this as a church, or give to people working with an unreached refugee people group that is both physically and spiritually hungry.

Daily Debrief Questions

  1. What surprised you today about doing the Global Challenge?

  2. Jesus said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” How did it feel today to eat less? What other areas of your life do you need to “deny” your desires so you can follow Jesus with clearer focus?

  3. How did you pray for refugees today? To learn more about refugees, read Chapter Three in Across the Street and Around the World.

  4. You have experienced limited choices in food. How would it feel to be spiritually limited?  How can you know Jesus as your Living Water and your Bread of Life?  Do you “hunger” for God like you hunger for good food? How would you feel if you didn’t have a spiritual choice?  If you had never seen or read a Bible?  If you couldn’t go to church because there wasn’t one around?  If no one ever told you about Jesus and the Kingdom of God?

Roll the Dice Each Day!

Print this game board to experience a twist in the game each day. This is how refugees feel, often at the mercy of their circumstances.


Print this recipe list to get creative with your oatmeal, beans, rice and flour.

What do you think of these ideas? How did it go for you? Comment here or post your version of a Refugee Rations Guidebook!