ELCA Malaria Campaign reaches $10 million milestone

12/19/2013 12:00:00 AM

            CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have contributed $10 million to support the ELCA Malaria Campaign in their effort to raise $15 million by the end of 2015. Through the campaign, ELCA members have joined with companion Lutheran churches and partners in 13 African countries to prevent and treat malaria, educate communities about the disease and more.
            "We have been overwhelmed by the motivation and hard work of synods and volunteers, the creativity of ELCA congregations and the generosity of ELCA members in reaching this milestone of $10 million," said Jessica Nipp Hacker, ELCA Malaria Campaign coordinator. "The ELCA is thankful to everyone who has contributed to the success of the campaign. Every gift makes a difference."
            Rolled out by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign provides mosquito nets, insecticides, medication, health care, education and more. Although malaria is preventable and treatable, each year more than 200 million people in sub-Saharan Africa become infected with the disease and more than 600,000 people die, many of these children under the age of 5.
            "The $10 million that has been given so far has been leveraged by our Lutheran partners in Africa to produce comprehensive malaria programs that are changing lives and changing communities in Africa. We are very excited to help our partners to accomplish all of their program goals when we reach the full $15 million fundraising goal," said Nipp Hacker.
            "Reaching this milestone enables our companions to continue working in countries where programs are already operating, and it also helps support initiation of programs in additional countries," said Rebecca Duerst, ELCA program director for health care. "We have added two new countries, Burundi and Namibia, to the original 11 that were planned for a total of 13 countries in which the programs will be operational."
            Programs in Burundi were implemented earlier this year. In Namibia, programs are scheduled for implementation in 2014.
            ELCA congregations across the country have embraced the ELCA Malaria Campaign with creative fundraising projects. Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa, established a three-year fundraising goal of $10 for every member, which would amount to $6,000. Children in the congregation made pipe-cleaner mosquitoes, which were placed on bed nets -- one mosquito for every $10 gift.  It took nine months to reach their target, so the congregation doubled the challenge and nine months later achieved its second goal.
            "(Members) were inspired to put people (who live) far away ahead of their money and what it could do for them," said the Rev. Gary Hedding, pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. "The impact I saw on the members of Bethlehem was an increased awareness of and respect for our brothers and sisters around the world who live with malaria. It drew us closer to people it would have been easy to forget. Children learned that they could have an impact on the lives of others, and they enjoyed being part of a campaign that could help children sleep safely and be healthy."
            Duerst reflected on the ways children and families from congregations such as Bethlehem Lutheran in Iowa are having an impact on children and families in places like Katakwi, Uganda.
            "A father brought his child to be tested at a community outreach," said Duerst. "The test was positive, and the health worker carefully described how the treatment should be taken before giving it to him and questioned him to make sure he could repeat how it should be administered back to her accurately. These outreaches continue to draw high numbers of people, exceeding expected targets, providing testing and treatment in remote areas that might otherwise not be reached, and removing the barrier of traveling long distances to the nearest health facility" she said.
            "(The members of Bethlehem) were impressed with the dedication and hard work of Christians in Africa, who are working so hard to address both poverty and malaria. They inspired us to do something as well, said Hedding. "We were able to express some of the love that God has poured into our hearts through Jesus, by providing malaria nets to families and individuals who just want to sleep safely."
            "It's fitting that we should reach this campaign milestone in the season of Advent, as we prepare for the coming of our incarnate Savior into the world by living out our baptismal calling to work for justice and peace," said Nipp Hacker. "We have two full years left to raise the remaining $5 million of our $15 million commitment and to fully fund life-saving malaria programs in 13 countries in Africa. Knowing the generosity of ELCA members, I am confident that we will reach and even exceed, this goal," she said.
            Information about the ELCA Malaria Campaign is available at http://www.elca.org/malaria.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

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Candice Hill Buchbinder
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