Jeff Farmer Sr., retired president of Open Bible Churches, shares a story of how the Lord challenged him with the reality of suffering caused by malaria, and how this sparked his passion to see the future changed. Read his story, and learn more about how you can be involved.
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Last December, God spoke to me suddenly and unexpectedly.
I had picked up my Bible to memorize Psalm 91 when I noticed a letter from World Vision. It was about their fight against malaria — about the millions of senseless deaths around the world caused by this disease. It talked about mosquitoes that stalk the night, and how a simple bite can be a lethal injection that terrorizes children and their families.
I put the letter down (not thinking much about it) and turned to my Bible.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
As I began, I was struck by the imagery in the Psalm: the “terror of night,” “the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,” and the “plague that destroys” thousands upon ten thousands. I couldn’t ignore that God offers Himself as a refuge for rest and safety. He is a shelter for us.
I thought of the children and families fearing for their lives because of a tiny insect. I thought of their need for shelter — from the physical threat of disease-carrying mosquitoes, from the emotional toll of fear day after day, and from the pain of losing loved ones. There was no reference to Psalm 91 in the World Vision letter, but the Lord’s alignment of these two ideas was riveting. I felt God calling me to take action on the issue of malaria and to give the gift of life.
When God arrested my attention that day, I did not know that malaria is one of human history’s biggest killers. I did not know that a child dies every 60 seconds from malaria — more than 1,500 people every day. I didn’t know malaria is 100-percent preventable. And I certainly didn’t know that a simple insecticide-treated bed net — a “shelter,” if you will — could help save the lives of children.
Did you know that malaria was eradicated in the United States more than 60 years ago? Americans can put their children and grandchildren to bed without the fear of a parasite-carrying mosquito infecting them. But in developing countries, this has not yet been achieved. So children continue to lose their lives needlessly — one every 60 seconds.
I shared my story with World Vision and pastors across the nation. Now, a movement has begun. Churches are uniting to help end malaria deaths by 2015. We’ve named this new movement Malaria Sunday. Churches are calling on their members to donate bed nets for every man, woman, and child in their congregations.
Countless stories have been shared about the Lord touching people’s hearts on the issue of malaria. Pastor Chris Hansler of Puyallup, Washington, challenged his church to save the lives of children from this night predator. Chris’s goal was one net per person in his church: 250.
To his amazement, even the children rallied to raise funds. The church gave enough to purchase 750 nets — triple his goal!
Malaria Sunday is an opportunity to embody God’s desire to provide refuge, rest, and protection to those living in fear of the pestilence that stalks the night. Let’s cover children and families with the shelter of a bed net. Can you imagine if every person in every church across the nation were to provide one net?
Think about the impact it would have on families — parents being reassured that their child’s life won’t be taken by a mosquito bite. Think about the witness we would bear — the church uniting to meet the needs of others as an expression of God’s love.
I truly believe that with the Lord’s blessing and your partnership, we can put an end to the suffering and death caused by malaria. Join with World Vision, and churches around the nation, and host a Malaria Sunday. One Voice. One Church. One Vision. End Malaria.
Read more about the Malaria Sunday campaign, and consider joining with your congregation to help bring an end to preventable child deaths at the hands of malaria.
Visit our End Malaria site to learn more about malaria and how you can join World Vision’s efforts to stop it.