FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - A Fort Wayne pastor is planning to fast for 40 days as a statement against gun violence that's killed 15 people in the northeastern Indiana city so far this year.
The Rev. Bill McGill told his congregation at Imani Baptist Church on Sunday that he'll fast for 40 days starting Wednesday and running through May 19. He wants to highlight the preciousness of life and empower fellow Christians "to act as agents of change in their environment," he told The Journal Gazette.
Two of the 15 Fort Wayne residents killed by gun violence this year were relatives of congregation members, he said.
He got the idea for the fast from yard signs promoting 40 days of fasting and prayer to end abortion.
"I thought '40 Days for Life' - why not '40 Days to Defeat Strife?'" McGill said.
The fast also has parallels with Scripture. Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days to prepare himself to start his ministry.
"Jesus is our example," McGill said. "You know, he made some claims that we would do greater things than he. If he is going to be our living example, we ought to be able to do this."
The 56-year-old said he did a prolonged fast about 25 years ago and experienced no ill effects.
McGill has enlisted a family physician for guidance during his fast and plans to drink a liquid nutrition supplement if he becomes too weak. He said he plans to drink at least two quarts of water daily and monitor his blood pressure weekly.
The pastor is encouraging other members of the congregation to give up one meal a day and use the time to pray for the community.
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