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Thirteen churches in the Marshall County area gathered on Saturday, August 24th to celebrate what they have and will accomplish in the effort to end death from malaria.
Around 90 gathered for the event, which was held at Hope UMC in Marshalltown. Burgers and brats were served as part of the meal that kicked off the evening and then everyone gathered in the sanctuary for music, witnesses, and encouragement.
Organizers Wally Paige and Kevin Gowdy hoped that the event would help to capture the excitement of this moment. “We have made a heartfelt investment in ending the malaria plague in Africa. We are watching a miracle in progress,” Gowdy said. Paige also noted that it was exciting to have eight pastors join together for the planning meeting, noting that they had rarely, if ever, done something big together like this before.
Throughout the night, churches encouraged one another on as they shared what they have done so far.
Pastor Brian Oliver of Christ UMC in Tama and the Living Faith Parish said that his churches were “ankle deep in butter tubs and cheese wrappers” and that together his churches had already worked to save 151 lives.
While the Gilman and Albian churches are just getting started, Pastor Cheryl Ridenour said that they were, “small but mighty.” They have sent home a jar, wrapped in netting, with every family in the church. On the outside is a mosquito and they are challenged to put something in that jar for every bug bite and mosquito they kill this summer. As she shared, Pastor Ridenour said, “right now, we don’t have anything to contribute… but we will!”
The Beaman UMC focused on malaria around Mother’s Day with “Mothers Against Malaria.”
The Conrad UMC is collecting cell phones to recycle for the cause and has already raised over $800.
First UMC in Marshalltown has focused on Imagine No Malaria at a number of events throughout the last year and a half and has already saved over 420 lives through their efforts.
Pastor Marvin Siems of the Laurel UMC added to his congregation’s total to bring their offering to $2020.
The churches of State Center, Rhodes and Melbourne are just getting started but Pastor Brent deSilva announced they had saved over 50 lives together!
Kathy Baker, the mission chair at Hope UMC, talked about their monthly birthday offering. Church folks are invited to give to missions in honor of their birthday ($5 for turning 5, $50 if you turned 50, etc).
In between testimonies, a joint choir from First and Hope UMCs sang and David Gray and Danielle Honig shared their musical gifts.
The Field Coordinator for Imagine No Malaria, Katie Dawson, shared a video from Admiral Zeimer of USAID that congratulates the United Methodist Church for our key role in this battle. She highlighted the clinics that are now seeing zero death rates from malaria and the $53 million dollars United Methodists have now committed towards this effort.
Dawson also shared how twelve churches have been built in the Bo District in Sierra Leone, a predominantly Muslim region of the country, because we were committed to a country-wide net distribution there. Islamic leaders came to Bishop Yambasu and invited him into their villages because the impact of our work went deeper than just a bed net. “We are joining with our brothers and sisters in Africa to truly live out the gospel.”
As the event concluded, Pastor Nan Smith invited everyone to join in a litany with a simple response: “We can make a difference!” The event itself raised $1859.50 for Imagine No Malaria, adding to the $8,550 these churches had already given.