During May, College Lutheran Church in Salem, VA experienced a mosquito infestation! “Miss Quito” arrived and deposited over 200 of her peskiest friends in the fellowship hall. Congregation members were challenged to remove these pests by donating $10 to the ELCA Malaria Campaign (enough to provide a family with a mosquito net).
Leaders at College Lutheran Church made great use of materials that are available from the ELCA Malaria Campaign. The idea and artwork for the mosquito infestation came from the Congregation Action Kit (available here). They showed the ELCA Malaria Campaign video in their congregation, and used several of the available bulletin inserts for Sunday worship.
A former pastor of College Lutheran Church and frequent visitor to East Africa, Pastor Dwayne Westermann visited College to address the congregation in support of the ELCA Malaria Campaign from a personal and passionate perspective. Pastor Westermann shared his mosquito net with the children as they covered up to protect from the swarming mosquitoes during the children’s sermon.
“The most important thing I have ever learned,” Pastor Westermann said, “is You don’t think your way into a better kind of living. You live your way into a better kind of thinking. But for that to happen, you have to get out there into the world, to be with your neighbor, to grieve with the poverty-stricken mother who managed to live through the trauma of child birth on the side of the road as she tried to reach the nearest clinic only to have her child die of malaria a year later. You have to understand what it’s like for one of our students who was so thrilled to get a scholarship to attend high school, but spends days or weeks shaking and shivering in a sweat soaked bed away from her classes because malaria has attacked her again. You have to get out there!
“And, by ‘get out there’ I don’t mean you have travel to East Africa. The poverty of Appalachia is not that far away. The homeless families that spend nights at College Lutheran Church are right here. I mean just understand more about these people, learn about them, care about them! Then live it out by doing something to help change their lives. Okay, I lied; I do care if you buy a bed net today. But, there are also so many other things you can do to live your life like Jesus did on behalf of those who so desperately need you. Be their friend. Find out how you can help them. Live at least part of your life for them.”
Thanks to the efforts of Miss Quito and her friends, the generous support of members of College Lutheran Church, the inspiration from Pastor Westermann, and a matching grant from Thrivent, College Lutheran Church has raised over $3000 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign (so far)! They will continue to support the ELCA Malaria Campaign and hope to have a fund-raising dinner in the fall with the support of the Roanoke College community.