40 Eden challenges for Lent

Published on February 28, 2017

This Lent, why not try these 40 challenges to help you explore your proximity to people and perspective on poverty? Share your thoughts throughout Lent using #EdenLent.

1. Share a Bible verse on social media today because you can.

Many people worldwide lack this freedom.


2. Use no hot running water either from your taps or shower.

More than 2.3 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation, let alone hot running water.


3. Compare your constituency with elsewhere in the country.

28% of children in the UK live in poverty.


4. Only communicate face-to-face or by phone call today.

No texts, emails or instant messaging. (If you shop, avoid self-checkouts and chat to the till operator). Almost 45% of households with children say they often send texts to each other, even when they are all at home.


5. Don’t clean your teeth for 24 hours.

A 2012 Public Health England report reveals that while improvements have been made, significant variations persist between children in different areas of the country and from different backgrounds.


6. Leave the light off when it gets dark tonight.

An estimated 1.2 billion people – 16% of the global population – do not have access to electricity according to the 2016 World Energy Outlook database. Encouragingly, this is 15 million fewer than reported in the previous year.


7. Take a box of chocolates to your local police, fire or ambulance station and thank them for their public service.


8. Drink only water today.

One in ten people worldwide (around 663 million people) lack access to safe water.


9. Ask somebody you don’t know if you can pray with them.


10. Visit your local library.

Start a conversation with somebody about what they like to read (to make it easy, start with the librarian). Young people in England are the most illiterate in the developed world, according to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report.


11. Have a ‘free week’.

That means no spending on extra luxuries and entertainment. Make a donation to a good cause instead. Why not support Eden? The average UK household spent £68.80 per week on ‘Recreation & Culture’ in 2014.


12. Write a letter to someone in the persecuted church.


13. Use no more than five litres of water to wash, eat and drink today.

Twenty litres per day from a source within one kilometre of the household is considered the minimum requirement per person per day for adequate drinking and personal hygiene. People in Rwanda average just five litres per day.


14. Only pray prayers of gratitude today.

Take stock of how many things you can say thank you for.


15. Write a letter of encouragement to staff at your local school.

34% of children receiving free school meals do not achieve expected standards of reading, writing and maths compared with 17% of those not receiving free school meals.


16. Leave your mobile phone off all day.

Every time you think to check it, pray for those struggling to quit a life-damaging addiction.


17. Sleep without a duvet tonight.

Twenty-five million people in the UK experienced destitution (when a person can’t afford the basic essentials they need to eat, keep clean and stay warm and dry) at some point during 2015.


18. Eat rice for breakfast, dinner and tea.

Rice is the staple food of more than half of the world’s population – more than 3.5 billion people depend on rice for more than 20% of their daily calories.


19. Write to your MP.

Register your concern that nearly a third of the population of Britain is living on an ‘inadequate’ income. According to research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation 45% of all children in Britain are among the 19 million said to be below the Minimum Income Standard.


20. Turn off your gas and electricity – no heat, no cooking.

Research from 2015 on behalf of the Debt Advisory Centre found that approximately 4.7 million residents in Britain are often cut off from their pre-paid electricity. Over 4 million British residents have said that they often cannot afford to top up their gas meters leaving many without heating at least once every week. Residents using prepayment meters often do not have the necessary information and access to cheaper price plans that could prevent them from falling into fuel poverty.


21. Spend time with an elderly neighbour this week.

You could introduce yourself for the first time. Two fifths of all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company (Age UK, 2014). Lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%.


22. Don’t watch any TV today.

Instead, use the time to litter pick your community. If anyone asks what you are doing, invite them to join in. Average television viewing time per day in the UK in 2015 was 3.7 hours for Smart TV and 3.4 for traditional TV.


23. Eat only fair-trade food today.

Volumes of Fairtrade tea, coffee, cocoa and bananas all grew in 2015 as consumers show support for Fairtrade. Increased volumes will lead to greater financial premiums to Fairtrade farmers and workers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Caribbean.


24. Don’t use soap or shampoo today (except hand washing).

You could also wear the same clothes as yesterday. A World Health Organisation study in 2012 calculated that for every $1 invested in sanitation, there was a return of $5.50 in lower health costs, more productivity and fewer premature deaths. Achieving universal access to a basic drinking water source appears within reach but universal access to basic sanitation will require additional efforts. The situation of the urban poor poses a growing challenge as they live increasingly in mega cities where sewerage is precarious or non-existent and space for toilets and removal of waste is at a premium. Inequalities in access are compounded when sewage removed from wealthier households is discharged into storm drains, waterways or landfills, polluting poor residential areas.


25. Pray for the launch of Enable, a new Message missions team.

A 2016 Joseph Rowntree Foundation report suggests half of people living in poverty are either themselves disabled or are living with a disabled person in their household.


Eat for a day for less than £1.

Nearly half of the world’s population – more than 3 billion people – lives on less than $2.50 (£2) a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty – less than $1.25 (£1) a day.


27. Give a Bible to somebody you don’t know today.

If you need to buy one, check out the Higher Bible – the Bible in a user-friendly design.


28. Don’t access the internet today on any device.

Adult users in the UK currently spend an average of one day per week (25 hours) online, while 60% of the world’s population has no internet access.


29. Eat yesterday’s leftovers.

Why not invite your neighbours round with their leftovers and make a meal together? In the UK in 2015 alone, £13 billion of edible food was thrown away from our homes.


30. Live for a day without food.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one in nine of the 7.3 billion people in the world were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.


31. Write down your highlights from the last nine years.

A child born in a deprived neighbourhood will die an average of nine years earlier than a child born in a wealthier area, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.


32. Only use water collected from your friend’s house.

Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources.


33. Don’t use your car for a day.

Help to improve air quality.


34. Buy your week’s food from shops you can walk to.

Chat to the shopkeeper, too. Low-income families may end up spending more on food because they can’t access better deals in big supermarkets because they don’t have the storage or money to buy in bulk.


35. Prayer walk your neighbourhood bare foot.

300 million children around the world don’t have a pair of shoes.


36. Go for a drink at a local pub and start a conversation with somebody.

Twenty-seven UK pubs close every week.


37. Twin your toilet.

Encouragingly, nearly one third of the current global population has gained access to an improved sanitation facility since 1990, a total of 2.1 billion people. However, 2.4 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines, approximately 32% of the world’s population.


38. Cook your tea outside.

Why not invite some neighbours round to join in? More than 2.7 billion people – 38% of the world’s population – are estimated to have relied on the traditional use of solid biomass for cooking during 2016. Overall, nearly three-quarters of the global population living without clean cooking facilities (around 2 billion people) live in just ten countries.


39. Do a random act of kindness in your neighbourhood.

Use the hashtag #goodfriday to tweet @JoinEden with your ideas and stories.


40. Invite a neighbour to your Easter Service tomorrow.


Eden sends urban missionaries to live sacrificially, share the gospel and build authentic community. Get more great content like this delivered straight to your inbox. Find out more today: joineden.org.