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The time is now!

The time is now! That’s what we keep saying about the ELCA Malaria Campaign.  The ELCA is proud to be a part of a global movement, a movement that has been picking up speed for the past ten years.

At increasing speeds in the past ten years, mosquito nets have been distributed to affected communities. Technologies have been researched and circulated. Educational programs have taught countless households. Medications have been administered. And at an increasing pace in the past ten years, the incidences of malaria have gone down!

When I began my position at the ELCA Churchwide office a little over a year ago, we often used this statistic: every 30 seconds a child in Africa dies of malaria.

But this year? This year it’s every 45 seconds. Correct me if I get the math wrong, but I think that means that global efforts to roll back malaria have resulted in saving the life of an African child every two minutes.

That’s amazing work. But we know that as long as even one life is threatened by a preventable and treatable disease, we must keep working.

This article from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says a little more about the progress we’ve made as a global community in rolling back malaria in the past ten years. And we’re glad to be a part of the work in the next years.

-Jessica Nipp,
ELCA Malaria Campaign

Malaria and the Military…

As it closes its doors, Walter Reed Hospital has been featured in several NPR stories over the past few weeks.

Here’s a fascinating and well-written story about malaria research that’s happening there, on live volunteers, with the hope of finding a vaccine.  It also includes some interesting information about how malaria has affected the course of military history.

Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Jessica Nipp,
ELCA Malaria Campaign

missionaries and malaria

Last week, one of the voting members at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly urged us to remember Will Herzfeld, who served as the executive of ELCA Global Mission and who died of malaria that he contracted while on a trip to Africa. In addition to the impact malaria has on the lives of our African sisters and brothers, let us also lift up our ELCA  mission personnel whose lives can be affected by the disease. A few days ago we received this note from Anne Langdji, the ELCA’s Regional Representative for West Africa.  She wrote:

“Nice to read the good news about the Malaria Campaign this morning. And it came in between phone conversations with Pastor Jackie Griffin, who arrived in CAR two week ago to start work with that church’s Women’s Organization, “Femmes Centrafricaines pour Christ”.  I welcomed her in Bangui and got her settled in the village of Bohong, where she is spending two months learning Sango.  She spent the past year in N’gaoundere, studying French, and had earlier served in Congo, so is somewhat comfortable in this new setting.

Unfortunately, since this weekend she’s been experiencing her first case of malaria and it’s been hard.  She’s getting good care both from local Catholic health centers and the staff of Lutheran health centers who are visitors in Bouar for a training.  She’s our only ELCA personnel in country right now as Pastor Deborah and Joe Troester and daughter are still on home assignment.

I would ask you to lift her up in prayer.  Many others are suffering tonight as she is, but she is one who has been sent by the ELCA to serve and right now she’s suffering and receiving the compassion and expert care of our Central African brothers and sisters, as well as a German missionary doctor.”

So together, let’s remember Will, and praise God for the good care that Jackie is receiving.  And let’s support the work of the ELCA Malaria Campaign that will make possible excellent malaria treatment and prevention  for many more people in the near future.

Jessica Nipp
ELCA Malaria Campaign

The Boy Who Saved Cleveland

Looking for a way to engage the youth of your congregation in the ELCA Malaria Campaign?

Might I suggest this book: “The Boy Who Saved Cleveland,” by James Cross Giblin, illustrated by Michael Dooling. It’s a chapter book for early readers, and is based on a true story. In the settlement of Cleveland, Ohio, Seth Doan’s family farms the land. An outbreak of malaria hits Seth’s family and all of their neighbors. While the adults are ill with malaria, Seth takes over the very adult tasks of carrying and grinding corn to keep his family and their friends fed.

“The Boy Who Saved Cleveland” is a great way to introduce the subject of malaria to a group of youth. It describes the symptoms and relates them to likable characters. It brings one story of malaria to life, and will doubtlessly engender interest in other, contemporary stories — stories of our brothers and sister in Africa who struggle with the daily realities of malaria.

(Note: while malaria used to be prevalent in the Unites States, it has been very nearly eradicated here since the 1950’s.)

Out of the mouths of babes…

Mark Anderson is an assistant to the Bishop in the Northeastern Iowa Synod. He and his whole synod have been working energetically and passionately to raise money for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

(If you haven’t yet, consider “like”-ing the group “Friends of the ELCA Malaria Campaign” on Facebook. This is a group administered by Mark, but open to anyone who wants to be in conversation about the Campaign and how we can support it.)

Mark posted this last week on the Friends of the ELCA Malaria Campaign page:  “I just met Skyler in Dubuque who had been saving her allowance. She donated her entire savings to the ELCA Malaria Campaign during Vacation Bible School. On the way to church she said ‘Mommy, I think a child is more important than a new toy.'”

You’re right, Skyler from Dubuque…. a child’s life is so much more important than a new toy. Thank you for teaching us to prioritize!

ELCA Churchwide Assembly!

Today is a pivotal day in the life of the ELCA Malaria Campaign. The 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly opens today! One of the first orders of business for voting members will be to determine whether the ELCA Malaria Campaign, which until now has been in the pilot phase, should be rolled out to the whole church. We’re hoping for an overwhelming– maybe even unanimous– vote in favor of the Campaign.

We’re so excited to offer the ELCA a campaign that unites us to look outward…
A campaign that bridges the gap between continents and finds us hand-in-hand with our African companions…
A campaign that builds on the health infrastructures of our companions and takes them to new levels…
A campaign that  allows us to do God’s work with our hands in a very concrete way.

This would be the first major campaign of its kind in the ELCA.

Here are some places where you can find the latest on the ELCA Malaria Campaign and the action of the Churchwide Assembly:

1.) The ELCA Web site: (make sure to watch the live- stream of Churchwide Assembly Plenary Session #2 tonight!)
2.) The Living Lutheran Web site:
3.) The ELCA Malaria Campaign Web site will receive a facelift this
4.) The new ELCA Good Gifts catalog will have a section about (new catalog coming soon)
5.) The Hunger Resource packet that is sent to each ELCA congregation in August will include ELCA Malaria Campaign materials.

Thank you, Calvary Lutheran Church in Edina!

Dorothy Fergus wrote us this inspiring note:

“Just a quick note to let you folks know about our tiny little Sunday school in Edina, Minnesota and what they have been doing this past year.

On Rally Day in September, the 24 children of our small Sunday school took on a new mission project for the year – to raise money for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

We put together a large bulletin board complete with story book about malaria, a real mosquito net, a world map and pins to hang up mini-nets.  For every $10.00 that we received, the children were invited to attach one mini-net to the board.  Thoughout the year we learned more about malaria and how it can be devistating for whole families.

By Mother’s Day, we had taken in $804.72 and had pinned 80 mini-mosquito nets to the map.  Here is a photo of some of our students in front of the board the Sunday following our VBS program.  The kids, some still wearing their teeshirts, are celebrating their accomplished goal.”

Thank you, Calvary Sunday School!

Getting the word out, WELCA-style

In early July, I represented the ELCA Malaria Campaign at the Women of the ELCA Triennial Gathering in Spokane, WA. (A shout-out to those of you in Spokane: the locals were amazingly friendly, helpful and cheery!)
     My colleague and I staffed an exhibitor’s booth in “Camp Dianoigo,” which was the Triennial exhibit hall. Dianoigo is a Greek word meaning “to open one’s mind to new experiences,” and the Triennial participants certainly came to our booth with open minds… and crafty hands.
      We offered a craft project for the participants: they could sit down for a few minutes, hear about the ELCA Malaria Campaign, and make a lovely corsage out of netting, fabric and ribbon. The netting that we used is meant to remind us of the mosquito nets that are one part of the sustainable prevention, education and treatment programs that we’re funding through our companions in Africa.  Colorful corsages make a great conversation piece, too: if you receive a compliment on your lovely corsage, let your conversation partner know what it represents!
     I was impressed by the number of Triennial participants who had already heard about the ELCA Malaria Campaign; indeed, many had already raised funds for the campaign in their home congregations or WELCA chapters. Some of them had already experimented with crafting their own net corsages.  To that I say, “Keep up the great work!”

     After a short article appeared in The Lutheran a few months ago, many congregations have seized the idea of net corsages, often using them to raise money for the ELCA Malaria Campaign. If a net corsage brings in a donation of $10, that’s the equivalent of supplying a mosquito net to a family in Africa! (A $2 donation covers a dose of medication to treat a case of malaria.)
     There are so many creative ways to get a congregation involved in fighting malaria. Check out these activity ideas, one of which contains a set of instructions for making your own net corsages.
     Do you have other creative ideas for getting the word out about the ELCA Malaria Campaign?  Have you raised money in your congregation? Let us know what worked for you! Tell us your success stories!

A Franciscan Blessing…

Friends, I wanted to share this “Fourfold Franciscan Blessing” with you. In the context of the ELCA Malaria Campaign, I find this blessing to be inspiring and challenging.  May God bless all of us with these “gifts,” so that we are motivated to work with our companions to bring just and comprehensive health care to communities in Africa, as well as preventative and educational measures to overcome malaria!

“May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.”


All ears





When I have the privilege of hearing Presiding Bishop of the ELCA Mark  Hanson speak, I pay attention.  Recently I heard Bishop Hanson speak to a group of people gathered to help shape the future of the ELCA Malaria Campaign. Bishop Hanson speaking about malaria? I was all ears.

Here is my interpretation of some of the things that I heard (with apologies; my notes were taken in haste, trying to keep up with his enthusiasm for the topic!):

This is “an Advent moment” in the ELCA. We’re excited to see the new thing that God is doing with us, and we’re leaning into the Holy Spirit for guidance. Because a church can’t be sustained by overcoming challenging times, we must also find a way to make an impact in the world, to do something concrete and forward-looking. The ELCA Malaria Campaign is one of the primary ways we as a church can do that.

Overcoming malaria is doable.  It’s something that will tap into the energy of our young people and the passions of our leaders. It’s something that will give ELCA members the joy of being part of what is happening in the world. It’s something that will deepen our existing relationships with our companions and provide achievable goals for us to strive for together.  The ELCA Malaria Campaign will begin with the capacity we already have– and our companions in Africa have– and grow from there. We will deepen our partners’ capacity to engage in sustainable development and holistic medicine.

The ELCA is poised to jump wholeheartedly into the ELCA Malaria Campaign, because who we are as a people of God is inseparable from what we do (and what God does through us). Working toward healing and justice is a mark of our self-understanding as a church.

The need is there. ELCA members “get” the vital importance of overcoming malaria and the impact that our partners can make on countless lives. The ELCA Malaria Campaign reflects the priorities of the church and the commitments that we have made to our companions. The time is now!

Amen. May it indeed be so!

~Jessica Nipp, ELCA Malaria Campaign